Students have seen firsthand how technology has affected the ways we learn, especially in this year of online classes, livestreamed events and remote quarantine learning. Advancements in technology have made these things possible.
In the last five to 10 years, technology has advanced a great deal, especially technology in education. Many schools are now one-to-one, where each student has access to a personal device like a laptop or tablet. Other innovations for technology in education include virtual reality, 3D printing, cloud database services and social media. Even some older classroom technology, like projectors and televisions, are not new but continue to be used by teachers in new ways.
“The most significant benefit of technology available to me as a teacher now is the ability to integrate so many sources into one software,” said Dr. Thomas Holm, professor of music. “I can now build PowerPoint slides that include basic outline points, but can also include audio and video clips, photo pastes and much more. It’s so efficient and puts all the relevant materials in one place.”
This year, increased classroom video equipment has allowed teachers to easily record their lectures for students who are quarantining and invite students to attend lectures virtually so they don’t fall behind.
One of the biggest advantages of these technological advancements is the increased accessibility to education. Now, with millions of formal and informal learning opportunities at our fingertips – everything from news articles to textbooks to online college degree programs and more – education is virtually accessible to most people.
These advancements have also affected the ways schools operate and the ways we learn. According to Purdue University, advancements in technology have increased opportunities for communication and collaboration. Whereas traditional classrooms were isolated, with collaboration limited to other students in the building, classrooms today go beyond the walls of the school and connections can be made to people and places around the world.
Technology has also drastically changed the roles of teachers and learners. Rather than having teachers serve as the primary source of information for passive students, access to the information and opportunities provided by technology has allowed teachers to guide students as they take responsibility for their own learning.
Arguably, colleges – and schools in general – have become dependent on technology. This dependency has been helpful to our learning, particularly in the ways it assists communication between parents, teachers and students.
“The interactive power of Blackboard allows teachers to create entire assignments (and modify if needed), and then make these instantly accessible to students,” Holm said. “The students can then complete the assignments and submit them back to Blackboard for teacher feedback. That’s pretty amazing and would’ve been beyond imagination 20 years ago, except to science fiction fans.”
With more technology also comes increased opportunities for project-based learning, where students’ innovation and creativity are encouraged. The increased amount of technology in the classroom also helps prepare students for the technology-rich world they will enter after they graduate.
Some of these pitfalls of technology-filled classrooms include a decrease in attention span among students of all ages. Technology also brings a variety of extra distractions into classrooms, which diminishes the in-person education they would otherwise receive.
Additionally, though technology can enhance relationships between students and teachers, it ca
n also create obstacles. Furthermore, some teachers aren’t prepared for the use of technology in their classroom.
“The lack of training is evident,” junior Colin Kaemingk said. “There would be new things that were cool in class, but we wouldn’t use them because a teacher didn’t fully understand it.”
However, defendants of technology in schools argue that the benefits outweigh the consequences.
In the last five years alone, technology has greatly affected education, as students, teachers and parents all adapt to changes in the traditional classroom. Though there are some negatives to the amount of technology present in schools today, there are far greater benefits. Most importantly, the use of technology in schools can better equip students of all ages to live and serve in a technology-heavy world.