Smartboards instead of whiteboards. Tablets instead of paper. Kindles instead of books. This isn't science fiction— for many teachers and students around the country, this is the reality.
In the past decade, schools and other educators have had to make huge adjustments in light of our constantly evolving and increasingly digital world. Today, with the advent of COVID-19 and the sudden switch to online learning, online classrooms and online tutors, technology's role in education is bigger than ever. At its core, it is revolutionising the educational experience, with online environments altering the classroom dynamics while providing more opportunities for digital assessment.
From more active learning to increased collaboration, in this article, we'll discuss four key ways in which technology is changing the way children learn.
With the rise of technology, classrooms and other learning environments have become increasingly student-centred. Long gone are the days of sitting passively and writing down notes from the whiteboard while teachers talk. Nowadays, children can access the web and find almost endless information. Subsequently, the way children learn is much more autonomous and self-directed. On the other hand, the role of educators has shifted from just conveying information to helping children find that information and use it to solve problems.
While learning has become more autonomous, technology allows students to be more connected and thus makes their learning experiences more collaborative. In short, technology facilitates collaboration through social networks, instant messaging and apps such as Google Drive, Dropbox and Zoom. Whereas in the past children might have written their answers on a piece of paper, an online tutor or teacher can now allow a sharing of ideas by creating a classroom Google Doc.
One of the most valuable outcomes of technology in learning spaces is the ability to tailor activities to different learning styles. It is no secret that every student learns differently. Technology allows students to learn at their own pace and in their own way, incorporating self-study, flexible instruction and group discussion.
A 'side-effect' of increasing technology has been a switch to digital assessments. This includes but is not limited to online essays, quizzes and projects. The switch to online assessment ultimately changes the way children learn by allowing them to learn through a range of media, from videos to images and even games.
Likewise, the digital assessment allows for a more personalised experience. An online tutor would be able to collect data and analyse where a student is going well and where more work is needed. Consequently, the student would receive more tailored guidance and improve his or her problem areas before the next test.
In short, technology is making the way children learn more flexible, collaborative and active compared to traditional classroom settings. In the future, we are likely to see exciting new developments to further enhance the educational experience. After all, trialling and adopting new technology is a never-ending process, and the way children learn in 5-10 years from now is likely to be vastly different from today.