Advances in technology have always transformed the way people are educated. From the abacus that made teaching math easier millennia ago, to the word processor that changed the way research papers are written and presented, humanity’s technological progress has impacted education.
Though technological change has shaped education from the beginning, the digital revolution has certainly increased the speed at which education is transformed. In the past twenty years or so, there have been changes that few people ever dreamed of.
Just consider the following ways that information technology, the Internet and other developments have reshaped the way education is attained, measured and delivered
Convenience and Availability
Many colleges and universities offered distance learning programs before the advent of the Internet. These programs were difficult to find, however, so many people who lived in a town that did not have a college or university lacked access to higher education.
Online education has changed this. Colleges and universities across the country now offer degrees in nearly every subject that can be completed entirely online. Other schools have programs that combine online learning with some on-campus residency requirements. Either way, adults who live thousands of miles from the nearest college or university can now complete their degrees.
Technology has also shaped pedagogy, or the art of teaching. Today, instructors can create and supplement their lessons in exciting ways. For example, online video conferencing enables teachers to talk directly with experts who are unable to visit a classroom in person. Interviews with such figures can be incorporated into lessons with the assistance of presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint™.
Communication continues to improve as the result of technological advances. Teachers can use email, texting, instant messaging, video chats and more to make themselves more available to students who need help with their schoolwork. Tutors can provide extra assistance in a similar manner. As a result, students can get the help they need outside of the classroom easier than ever before.
The number of pedagogical possibilities that technology opens up increases every year. Teachers can create review exercises online to help their students learn their lessons and prepare for exams. Instructors can create online forums and blogs where students, outside of the classroom setting, can discuss what they are learning. Examples could be multiplied, and the way teachers teach will no doubt continue to change as new software is created and other advancements are made.
The school library will always have a special role in research. Nevertheless, the explosion of information available online has changed the way that research is conducted in many disciplines. Journals that were once accessible only in select libraries are now online.
Entire encyclopedias, books and other tools can also be found online, often for free. One downside to the availability of information is the trouble it can be to separate the good data from the bad when students do research online. This situation should improve, however, as Internet-based research becomes more common.
Plagiarism is also a greater danger today because research papers that others have written can be found online. Fortunately, plagiarism-checking software that alerts teachers to copied work is also available. Students can no longer cut and paste someone else’s work and easily pass it off as their own.
Technology is transforming education today, and it will continue to do so tomorrow. Most of these changes are positive, and the wise use of technological advances will improve education for some time to come.About the Author