Whenever someone mentions the words ‘learning’ and ‘education’, the first image that pops up in everyone’s mind is that of a classroom with a teacher and forty or so students studying using a blackboard and a chalk. However, we live in the 21st century where educational tools are constantly evolving and have come a long way from ink pens, quills and wooden slates to smart boards, blogging applications and online tutorials. Technological advancement has taken us by storm and the education sector is no exception. It has replaced almost everything that was once considered crucial to impart education with gadgets and applications that have made our lives immensely easier.
These technological changes have benefitted the students and the teachers alike. In recent years, technology has opened several new doors in the form of new learning opportunities for students through online courses, distance learning programs, online tutorials and digitized classrooms. Although technology can not completely replace teachers and professors, it has now shifted their role from being the core source of information to being guides needed to help interpret and understand this information. Online courses and distance learning programs not only enable people to access and enrol in courses offered by various universities and educational institutions that would have been otherwise inaccessible to them but also helps them acquire new skills in the comfort of their own homes. This method of learning is cost effective, flexible as you can study whatever you want and self paced because most of the online courses let an individual work according to his own timeline.
Technology thus promotes self learning in the long run and brings the global village to the student’s place of residence. It not only helps people enhance their knowledge and develop real world skills but also enables them to interact with their fellow classmates from all over the world thereby inculcating strong communication skills and introducing them to various different cultures.
Educational resources, now, are only a click away and widely available on the internet to anyone who is interested in learning. Resources like eBooks, podcasts, educational videos, educational games, tutorials etc. are easily accessible and are not only used extensively by individuals but are also being increasingly used by teachers in classrooms as a supplement during their lectures. Apart from these, a huge number of educational computer softwares are now available in the markets that have simplified the learning of complicated algorithms and concepts. Although they do come with a certain number of disadvantages but they are outweighed by the numerous benefits of using such softwares. Educational videos and visual aids promote learning inside as well as outside the classroom and have a much deeper impact on the viewer’s mind than simple textbooks. Advanced technical aids in the education sector work on the principle of experience and let an individual experience concepts and theories. This enhances the student’s analytical skills, proficiency and critical thinking while making understanding comparatively easy. This would have been impossible five decades ago when technology wasn’t as advanced as we have it today.
Technological advancements have not only benefited students but have also helped teachers immensely. They can now integrate various spheres of education through online presentations and online quizzes while ensuring that their classes remain interactive. An article by the National Math and Science Initiative even showed that students tend to remain focused and get better results if blended teaching methods are used especially for subjects like science, technology and maths. In addition to this, virtual lesson plans, online tests and grading programs help teachers save a lot of energy and time which can be used to enhance the classroom teaching experience.
While technology has definitely made our lives easier, it comes with it’s own pitfalls. It is important to remember that the overuse of anything can be detrimental in the long run. Thus, educators all across the globe need to maintain a healthy balance while using gadgets and technology in the classrooms. Afterall the future of the world does lie on the shoulders of the youth. We don’t need a generation of smart phones and dumb people, do we?