For those that graduated high school before 1990, the world-wide approach to education and learning has been dramatically altered by technology. In those days there was excitement when the teacher would roll in the cart with a television set and VCR. It meant movie or documentary time! Back then that was the available technology, and when that’s all you know, you accept it as the norm and cool.
Education in American Schools Gets a Technological Makeover
Home economics and things like typing class, as we knew it, was coming to an end. In the mid 1980’s, schools across America began to introduce a combination of new classes to their curricula. Out with the typewriters and in with the desktop computers. Now, it wasn’t just typing anymore, kids were able to write, make instant corrections and interact with simple games and puzzles.
Back then, both teachers and students couldn’t begin to imagine what was coming. As schools were adopting computer sciences and modifying their curricula, the desktop computer and laptop computer were becoming more readily available. It didn’t take long before many households could afford to have a computer. Shortly after the benefit and impact of having a computer was seen, it seemed every household couldn’t afford to be without one.
By the end of 1990, all of the tools necessary for a functional web had been built. The coming five years would see the World Wide Web develop in leaps and bounds, connecting people all over the world. By the late 1990’s, it was evident that corporations, educational institutions and small business would require an internet presence if they were to survive and flourish.
At the turn of the millennium, it was now possible for everyone to communicate instantaneously worldwide. As well, information about anything and anyone was quickly becoming available to every person with access to the internet. Times had changed and the educational system would do the same.
Revolutionizing Education through Technology
Teamwork and communication among students could now be facilitated through email, course-based websites and chatrooms. Research has proven that collaborative learning enhances recall, understanding and problem solving. With this technology, students divided by geographic regions – unable to meet face to face – are able to participate in collaborative learning groups and peer studies.
One of the most important impacts technology has made on education is its personalization and efficiency. According to Dr. Carlotta Redish, technology has freed educators from repetitive tasks and having to deliver vast amounts of information, which enables them to devote more time to individual students. With a heightened ability to interact and get to know their students, teachers and professors are now able to adapt and develop their classroom strategies. Since technology has the ability to deliver those vast amounts of information, the specific needs of each learner can be more readily addressed.
Make no mistake. The role of teachers and professors is changing from a subject authority figure to that of a consultant or coach. In the 21st century classroom, one of the primary duties of an educator is to design context and situations in which students assume more responsibility for their learning. With the use of technology, students no longer passively absorb information and content from an educator.
Education and Schools Revolutionized by Technology
Video and Audio – Not so long ago, it was an undertaking to make audio and video presentations. There was a necessity for expensive and bulky equipment to make it all happen. Now, all that is needed is a tablet, phone or laptop to make high quality recordings, which may be endlessly and effortlessly edited to meet the needs of the assignment.
Satellite Imagery – With satellite imagery, it is possible to virtually visit nearly any place on the planet at any time without leaving the classroom. While actual, physical field trips are important, visiting the street level views of the world’s most incredible locations is truly awe inspiring.
Social Media Technology – Students are now able to be in direct contact with authors, filmmakers, columnists, athletes and anyone else they may need in order to gather information or study. Social media has also taken the place of what used to be pen-pals. Pen-pals would write letters and mail them to each other. More often than not, your pen-pal would be in a different country. How exciting was that!
Websites – A student’s work is no longer limited to being presented to a classroom and its teacher, the distribution of the Internet makes it available to the entire world. Likewise, by creating a class or portfolio website, a collaborative or creative work can be published and distributed for the world to see. That potential alone gives prospective employers and school admissions staff transparency and access that was unthinkable just a decade ago.
Technology is Guiding the Revolution of the American Educational System
There are several driving attributes to this revolution. Technology has liberated education from the constraints of time and location. It is easier to access than the traditional campus-based system. Technology inherently reduces the labor-intensive attributes of higher education, making it more cost-effective. Finally, being student centered, technology vastly increases the student’s learning options.
The only certainty is that education at all levels must continue to evolve. As the educational system moves into the future, there will be many factors that will guide and shape it. Without a shadow of a doubt, technology will continue to be the number one driving force in that evolution – which has been underway for some time.