Education is a crucial component to success in the modern world. With the ever-progressing forms of communication and technology, we have seen an explosion of online tools and options that have become available to the mobile and tech savvy generation of today.
Image via Flickr by possbeth
In the past, teachers used tools from the environment to demonstrate concepts that were difficult for students to fully comprehend. A tuning fork, for example, illustrated how vibrations create sound.
Today, teachers have more refined resources they can appeal to in order to demonstrate concepts that are extremely difficult to understand. For example, digital simulations are used to model complex systems: weather patterns, chemical bonding, Fluid mechanics, and other complicated concepts — particularly those which unfold over time or through a convoluted series of reactions.
Similar tools are now used in helping develop new technologies in science, engineering, and mathematics.
Manipulatives allow students to move objects around in various combinations that represent complicated mathematical concepts. Virtual manipulatives now allow for a greater range of object lessons. Teachers can let students create a series of graphs changing individual factors from one to the next with a visual demonstration that illustrates how the two interact. Students can now visit sites where they can experiment with the idea of numbers and what they mean by changing the values and viewing what happens to virtual models in the process.
Learning foreign language and culture is a much more immediate experience as students can actually set up language lessons with native speakers from the country where the language is spoken. They can access resources from colleges and libraries in other countries, and speak directly using videoconferencing tools. They can directly discuss topics which are of interest to both parties, share insights to language and cultures, and even visually illustrate surroundings and cultural identifiers.
Digital simulations are terrific for teaching concepts, but new programs can also give teachers a much more reliable idea of how well a student understands what’s taught. Instead of a series of multiple choice questions that may only prove that a student knows how to define a concept, new programs assess students on how well they comprehend complex processes.
An available program helps students understand the complexity of genetics by using an engaging conceptual image – for example, breeding various breeds of dragons. The problems posed to the students give results much more like a performance assessment. The end result – in this case the breed of dragon – demonstrates how well the student comprehended the complexities of genetics.
Epistemic role plays allow students to play the part of a journalist or an engineer. The program requires them to solve real-world problems. It essentially immerses the student in a virtual adult world where they can succeed or fail, learning important real-world values and concepts within a safer yet realistic environment.
There are so many new technologies not mentioned: mobile technology, e-books, and Google searches, just to name a few. No doubt the students educated by these tech-tools of today will soon be introducing even more exciting educational tools in the not-too-distant future.