In recent years, the growing use of technology in the classroom has completely transformed the educational environment. As little as twenty years ago, computers (and computer studies) were mostly considered an optional extra, and the extent of technology in a typical classroom was still extremely limited — perhaps an overhead projector and a solitary Windows PC.
Fast-forward to today and students carry more processing power in their pockets in the form of their smartphones. It’s little wonder educational establishments are coming round to the idea of integrating more with technology when it is already such a significant part of our lives.
Computers and smart devices surround us; however, the benefits of tech in the learning experience are only just being realized and they are potentially game-changing.
The Changing Face of the Educator/Student Relationship
Previously, the central purpose of a teacher was as an educator: i.e. the teacher would impart information and the student would absorb it. However, these days, the roles are changing considerably.
In the modern classroom, rather than just spoon-feeding facts to students, teachers can use technology to encourage the discovery of information to let students problem-solve or find creative ways to work and communicate collaboratively. Technology is fundamentally changing the role of the educator, while at the same time, enhancing and improving the learning experience of the student.
The Rise of MOOCs
Education has a new buzzword — MOOC or Massive Open Online Courses. The premise of MOOC’s is simple: by removing the confines of traditional learning environments (i.e. the classroom or the lecture hall), far more students can learn the same material at the same time. The approach allows educational establishments to maximize the time and worth of their lecturers, while still offering the same core course information to students.
Some MOOC courses offer a mixture of live lectures and pre-recorded content; though, in most cases, the entire course will have been pre-made. Either way, lessons are always backed up with a wealth of online supplemental materials along with testing to ensure students fully understand and are performing to their best.
Indeed, MOOC’s are now so advanced that full certificates and even some degree-level qualifications can be learned entirely online. For example, it’s now possible to attain a Master of Science in Nursing through MSN programs, with the study aspects of the qualification delivered and tested 100% over the internet.
An Increased Use of Online Media Makes For More Interesting Lectures
We already live in an era where many high school students are younger than the first iPhone. With a generation that was reared on multimedia content and always-on devices, it’s little wonder students react so positively to information provided in more engaging formats.
Data Analysis Leads to Better Lessons and Teaching Styles
Through the regular assessment of students combined with other interactive games and activities, it’s possible to build up a general picture of a students’ progress and understanding of each particular lesson. This data can then be analyzed by the lecturer to identify problems in their teaching style or areas where they might need to tweak lesson content.
The Move From Passive to Active Learning
Previous models of teaching were mostly passive and unengaging from a student’s perspective. Lecturers would typically stand at the front of a classroom, recounting material from a textbook with little or no feedback from students.
This passive style of learning has all changed in the modern classroom (virtual or real-world) with interactive games to test the writing, speaking and listening skills of students. These types of cooperative tasks make students feel far more engaged and actively involved in the learning experience. In fact, if done correctly, students can become the learning experience, bouncing ideas and concepts off one another.
The Internet is the Most Incredible Library
Unsurprisingly, 93% of students confirmed they already use Google to find answers to university homework or when writing papers. The internet is the largest and most comprehensive library in history and having 24/7 access to current and continuously updated information is a massive advantage to today’s student. With students already using online resources, it’s only logical that internet content should feature as part of the curriculum.
Online Classes Offer More Flexible Learning Options
Online learning and online courses allows students to learn at a time and in a place that is convenient for them. In the virtual classroom, most of the material is pre-prepared, meaning students can take classes whenever they want.
Interactive Learning Can More Accurately Identify Problem Areas
Most online courses feature regular tests to ensure students have thoroughly understood the material they’ve been taught. These tests can be written, oral or aural, assessing students’ understanding in a way that simply wasn’t possible in a traditional busy lecture hall or classroom. Better yet, with advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI), student responses can be automatically marked — thereby freeing up lecturers’ time.
Preparing Students For a Computer-Dominated Workplace
Not so long ago, computer literacy was considered an extra skill by employers. Nowadays, employees are expected to have at least a basic understanding of computers and office-type software applications.
Teaching students to work with computers, the internet and multimedia during the learning process not only improves their basic education, knowledge and skills, but it also greatly improves their overall chances of employment.