As a technology professional who often argues the importance of education, it is interesting to watch how modern educational systems are being improved and positively affected by technological innovation.
In certain ways, technology can be a hindrance to education. Some educators may argue that it causes distractions and leads to the demise of certain traditional skills that can be performed by a computer in today’s world.
Although some of these claims may be true at times, here are 5 reasons why technology ultimately improves education as a whole:
- Reduced Cost of Education
- Increased Availability of Education
- Customized Curricula
- Increased Access to Information
- Increased Ability to Update Curricula
One of the top reasons that students choose not to pursue degrees after highschool is because of a lack of financial support. Online courses however, are becoming increasingly popular for those who cannot find the time or money to attend traditional courses.
Although online courses may not be quite as thorough as traditional classes, they can deliver similar material at a greatly reduced cost. Online course instructors can handle more students than in traditional settings and infrastructure costs such as facilities, desks and equipment are greatly reduced.
The rising trend of online education has allowed many students to pursue a higher level of educational success than they normally would be able to.
One of the major factors education advocates have faced during the last century was a lack of availability of education for students in remote or poor areas of the world.
Due to the rise of the internet, people now have access to information like never before. Rural parts of Africa are gaining access to the internet through the use of mobile devices with satellite internet connections. There have also been some major projects on increasing the amount of hard-wire internet connections in Africa.
Just the ability to self-educate by reading and researching on the internet is a big step for areas of the world that have been traditionally isolated from modern education.
A lack of education has been the root cause of many problems plaguing the African continent in the 20th and 21st centuries. Hopefully, an increased access to information will help increase the knowledge of contraceptives and sustainable farming techniques and, in turn, increase the standard of living for Africans.
It is a well known fact that different teaching techniques are more effective for different students; not everyone learns the same way. In traditional teaching environments, students were forced to accept a “one size fits all” teaching style. Although this may instill discipline in a student, it doesn’t improve the overall learning experience of the student.
With modern educational tools, curricula can be customized for each individual student. Many digital textbooks allow students to choose whether they would like to learn by watching videos, reading examples or by taking practice quizzes.
If we take a look at technology as a whole, we can see that user customization is a trend taking the industry by storm. Google is now providing search results customized for each person, Facebook displays your news feed based on your customization options and, believe it or not, digital education techniques will also continue to offer more customization options.
There is not doubt that if you have an internet connection and need to know the answer to a question, one way or another, you will be able to find the answer. It may be true that modern students are spoiled because they no longer need to memorize tedious bits of information because they can always use Google to find what they’re looking for.
This phenomena however, may also have positive implications on education. Students can now focus on larger, more complex concepts. If computers ever fail us, we may have to relearn some traditional skills that have been forgotten but, until that day, we might as well take advantage of computers and use our brains for more abstract computations.
Students can also be more efficient with their work due to an increased access to information. Looking up a word in a dictionary or thesaurus is 5x faster. Composing documents and reports is at least 2x faster. The entire workflow of a student in the 21st century, due to technological innovation, is performed at a much faster pace than of students just 100 years ago.
A primary problem that educators have traditionally faced is that of keeping their curricula as current and up-to-date as possible. Unfortunately, by the time educational materials are published, they are already falling behind in terms of relevance.
As educators now have more direct access to industry updates and developments, they can more quickly adjust their classes and course materials to reflect real world developments. Real-time information is a concept that is also sweeping the technological world by storm.
In my opinion, there isn’t a better place to make use of real-time information than in educational environments. Technology allows students to access the most current information in regards to their field of study and, in turn, has increased the relevance of their knowledge in that particular area.