Digital technology is increasingly working its way into every aspect of our daily lives, from phones to cars and from the workplace to the classroom.

Within the classroom, technology is finding one of its most productive and growing uses. It’s used more and more to support and augment students education in ways that are evolving teaching practices.

There are, however, a few key questions involved when examining the effect of technology upon education.

How is technology being used in the classroom?

In terms of major educational developments, technology has found a new role in some revolutionary ways:

  • Digital simulations and models can be used to help aid teachers in the conveyance of complex processes or theories
  • You can now complete a degree online, courtesy of learning materials being moved onto the internet, which provides fantastic opportunities to those who work during the day
  • Allows for improved communications between teachers and pupils
  • Access to advanced research, instant information and digitised resources
  • Allows for more effective assessments of a student’s progress
  • Provides students with the opportunity to learn at their own pace
  • Can provide more entertaining learning through the use of interactive resources
  • Provides a platform for online group collaboration
  • Allows anyone, anywhere with an internet connection to gain access to an open education

Digital technology allows for information to be circulated to huge numbers of people at incredible speeds. It also has a cost-saving effect when used properly, as it can reduce the need for field trips and lesson times.

This is by, for example, allowing students to remotely gather information about a given place without the need to travel there in person.

Thanks to the increased use of mobile technology such as phones, laptops and tablets, it is now possible for one lecturer to simultaneously educate hundreds and even thousands of students without any of them being in the same location.

This is through what is known as Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs.

AI is becoming increasingly useful within the classroom too, as demonstrated by the US Navy of all people. They have implemented an AI-based tutoring system named Education Dominance into an entry-level IT school in Pensacola.

This AI tutor works similarly to its human counterparts and monitors each student’s progress, providing personalised assessments and tests. Since the implementation of Education Dominance, the Navy has reported increased test scores in those using the software against those not.

What does technology hold for the future of education?

As technology becomes ever-more integrated into the educational environment, the role of both the educated and the educator is changing. This could be the first major paradigm shift in education since the current lecture-style method was developed around the 13th century.

At the advent of the initial development of mobile, digital technology, it found its first use as a replacement for textbooks and handouts. This saved on paper but wasn’t exactly a revolution in teaching methods.

As technology progresses, it is allowing students to gather their own information and be more responsible for the research aspect of their education. Previously, education methods have been focused around teachers and often outdated textbooks providing students with information, but not necessarily showing them how to apply it or to think critically.

This means the role of teachers is no longer to provide a spout of information, but rather to direct student’s research and encourage them to process the information they gather and how to apply it.

This is what’s known as ‘blended learning’, and it involves a mixture of online and face-to-face teaching. This also leads to changes in the way that schools allocate space, as the traditional classroom is becoming more redundant and more money and space is being allocated to open research environments.

This can lead to reduced costs for schools too but faces some issues regarding the effect of screen time. A survey conducted by Common Sense Media shows that 66% of parents feel their teens spend too much time on devices, and 52% of kids agree.

However, one of the major benefits of this style of learning is that it allows students to learn at their own pace, without being left behind by the rest or holding others behind as the teacher adapts to cater for them.

This should lead to all students achieving a more equalised standard of learning that is only possible through the use of technology.

Technology is leading to a more personalised and comprehensive style of education which adapts the roles of students and teachers. In theory, this can lead to a higher quality of education at a potentially reduced cost.

It’s yet to be categorically proven that technology is improving education, but the theory is there, and the changes are already happening.

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