In this 21st century, technology has pretty much changed everything — the way we communicate, the way we live our lives, the way we envision our future. And, education is no exception. Just think of the times when we were at school/college and compare it to the teaching and learning methods of today — a far cry from what it was. Technology has impacted education profoundly and its essence has steeped in through the cracks to all levels — whether it is toddlers or young students or even adults — everyone’s level of education has been impacted.
So, how has technology changed the way people learn? Here are the top four ways it’s changing our education system.
From individual to collaborative learning: When Mrs. Sonia took charge of teaching her sixth graders science, she knew she had to think of some way to get everyone interested in the subject. Hence, she divided the entire class into groups of five and gave each group a project to work one. Each group was given a laptop and had to choose a group leader, a recorder, a researcher and a reporter and prepare their report collaboratively. This way she found that every student was able to contribute to the project according to their abilities and they learnt better when they taught each other. With the help of technology (phones, Skype etc.) these students could connect with each other even after classes and work on their project together.
From passive to active learning: After spending one week cooped inside the training room, trying to teach the new joiners about the various facets of the product they will be dealing with, a company’s process trainer, Seema, realized that all she had achieved in the week was to waste everyone’s time. No two people were the same and it was impossible for everyone to learn new things by passively receiving the knowledge from her. This was when she decided to change the methodology and instead of being just the provider of information, she took on the role of being a guide while the new employees took on more responsibility for their own learning using technology to gather relevant information. Soon, they were able to tackle issues better and retained more information when they were able to practically use it.
The rise of differentiated instructions: Miss Malini was given the task of managing a group of very special students — they were the disruptors of their classes and were generally thought to be the ones who were least interested in their education and that it was impossible to teach them in a formal classroom scenario. Miss Malini knew exactly what to do. She knew that to engage a group of students this diverse, she needed to use differentiated instruction strategies. She used various kinds of learning styles targeting the students’ visual, hearing and creative aesthetic senses and this not only made learning easy but also more appealing. She used methods like playing videos, using infographics, role-playing, conducting quizzes, and using physical objects to teach various subjects.
The phenomenon of multitasking: Time is of essence in today’s world and Mr. Sharma knew about this. His students were always rushing around doing multiple tasks at a time and even during his classes, when he was teaching them, he could see his students, while paying attention to him, were also busy with their phones or laptops or tablets. This infuriated him to no end initially and he also seized a number of these electronic gadgets during his class to return them back after class. However, over a period of time he realized, that his students without their phones were in fact more distracted than with it. It was impossible for today’s millennial to concentrate only on one thing and completely focus on it — they were so tuned to multitasking. This was true for learning as well. One of the most common forms of multitasking was studying while listening to music — it helped increase the student’s alertness.
Technology is a powerful instrument that can renovate education in so many ways, from making it easier for teachers to teach to enabling new ways for people to learn. With the help of Internet and smart devices which everyone seems to have now, a new age of anytime anywhere education is on us. Now it’s up to all educational institutions to figure out how best they can use these opportunities.