Brace yourselves. I’m about to state a handful of really obvious facts.
Fact number one: Education is important and essential. That’s why we have a public education system — not only is it necessary to create a well functioning society, it’s a fundamental right.
Fact number two: Technology is important.
Fact number three: Being tech literate is becoming increasingly more and more important — so much so that the Internet is being viewed as a utility in many parts of the world, with free WiFi access increasing around the globe (thanks Zuckerberg and Google, you are our overlords).
Fact number four: Technology will eventually become an intrinsic part of education and supercharge it in a way that teachers have only dreamed of.
Okay, that last one wasn’t a fact, but it may as well be. For those youngsters reading this, the Internet wasn’t always as readily available as it is now. When it was first on the market, web access was really only attainable by a handful of individuals, namely people who worked in the technology sector and higher education.
Technology has changed the way we interact with each other and gather information, and it’s definitely going to change education, as well. Here are four ways that technology is making a big impact on education.
Online Courses Bring the Classroom to Your Room
We spoke with Ellen Keohane, CEO at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, about how she’s seen technology impact higher education. One of the ways in which they’ve been able to quickly integrate technology into the classroom is through videos.
“Our faculty are using video capture systems to support learning in and out of the classroom,” Keohane said. “The videos range from short segments to explain difficult concepts, allowing students to replay content as often as they need, to capturing an entire course, making it available online.”
The use of video is a popular trend in education, and one of the easiest to implement. In THE Journal’s article “10 Major Trends in Education,” the education journal highlighted ten of the most impactful ways technology has been making a difference with responses from over 9,000 schools in the country. In the study, they found that 46 percent of teachers were using video in their classrooms.
In fact, simply having a course online is one of the most popular ideas that students responded to. Respondents stated that the “desire to have more control over their learning and believing that they will get more support from an online teacher” were the main reasons why students were gravitating to this idea, and it’s a sentiment Keohane has seen in practice.
“We feel there is great potential to enhance what we do here at Holy Cross by supplementing the wonderful face-to-face experience our students get with our faculty,” she said.
Technology in the Classroom is Cost-Effective
If you’re concerned that technology in the classroom will hike up taxes, you’ll be relieved to know that, actually, it can reduce it.
“Certainly there is great attention to containing the growing costs of higher education and questions about value,” said Keohane. “IT can help in both areas, by finding efficiencies and enabling data driven decisions.”
The Cloud Will Bring Ease of Access
Thanks to the cloud, new services can be deployed quickly and with cost-effectiveness, including system upgrades.
“The cloud is lessening the demand for those professionals who install, configure, and upgrade server hardware and applications, as well as the developers who customize applications,” said Keohane. “With most cloud systems, there is minimal customization allowed or needed. This is a good thing, since there are growing demands elsewhere in IT for security and data experts, as well as instructional technologists.”
The Internet of Things is Changing How We Interact with Information
Wearables have gotten mixed reviews, and are currently one of the declining areas of research and development. However, hand-held devices hold a potentially significant amount of learning opportunity for students.
According to THE Journal’s study, the numbers back up the idea that mobile is a big area in which students can take advantage of technology. Among high school students, 89 percent had a smartphone, 60 percent had access to a laptop, and 50 percent had tablets. In grades 3 to 5, 50 percent of those students had access to a smartphone.
How are they using their phones? According to the survey results:
Sixty percent of students are using mobile devices for anytime research, 43 percent for educational games and 40 percent for collaboration with their peers. Thirty-three percent of students surveyed use mobile devices for reminders and alerts related to their academic lives, 24 percent for taking photos of their assignments, and 18 percent for in-class polling.
“A smartphone with a camera, a wireless connection, and access to cloud applications forms a powerful set of technologies in the hands of students,” said Keohane. “It will be interesting to see what innovations are actually driven by the students themselves.”