Technology and education: The future of learning
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Finding a balance between digital transformation and adapting to the current environment that a workforce requires is a key area of todays challenges for leaders.
Modern technology and the education industry presently enjoy a close symbiotic relationship which is poised to only become stronger in coming years. Both inside and outside of the classroom, modern technologies are making learning an increasingly, more interactive and digitized process for students of all ages. Most notably, the current application of AI-related technologies and their potential offers an immense realm for future possibilities.
Even at primary school level, modern technologies are making their impact felt both in and outside of the classroom. Having been born into a world completely surrounded by digital technology, the young learners of Generation Z inevitably require these technologies to be incorporated into their primary education to a certain extent. Two current examples of this are augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies which offer the possibility of making learning more interactive and engaging for children, even if the overall effectiveness of these technologies as learning instruments remains to be proven.
However, it is when it comes to young learners with learning disabilities or those who require a more personalised teaching approach that modern digital technologies are making themselves truly felt.
As conditions which can adversely affect childhood learning such as dyslexia are being more readily identified, digital technology is seen more and more as a helpful tool. In order to combat the negative effects of dyslexia on learning, audiobooks, SmartPens, and a wide array of speech-to-text technologies such as Speechnotes are being utilized inside classrooms and at home. Furthermore, technologies similar to those used to assist students with disabilities can also be used more generally to help students experiencing learning difficulties who require more personalised assistance. Pairing these technologies with AI-related tools, which evaluate students’ progress, offers huge possibilities.
Students at the secondary level currently benefit tremendously from various forms of digital technology in the classroom, especially when it comes to the use of connected devices and learning management systems. Numerous secondary schools have begun to supply their students with Lenovo Chromebooks to facilitate greater communication and collaboration between students and teachers. As many students are already accustomed to using digital communication devices to interact with each other on a daily basis, the integration of such technologies into the classroom is only a natural step.
Across the Atlantic in America, school districts where the vast majority of students already possess digital communications devices have already embraced the concept of “bring your own device” (BYOD) which allows students to utilise their own digital device to assist with their learning. Although there are of course many risks related to allowing students to use their own devices such as online safety, there also exists great potential.
The wide use of learning management systems (LMS) within secondary schools is also highly significant on many levels. LMS allow students to keep track of course content, upload completed assignments, communicate with their fellow students, and, perhaps most usefully, monitor their academic progress. Some schools have gone the extra mile by providing parents with access to the LMS of students, so that they may gauge their child’s academic performance if they want to be more hands-on with their child’s learning.
Present day university students are making use of many of the same technologies such as LMS that are being used within secondary schools, but are also making use of a host of resources more geared towards higher learning and issues pertinent for university students. As universities can be considerably larger than secondary schools, they need to help students with academic advising and making use of all of their campus’ resources has been made less daunting through the help of modern technology.
AI advising tools supplement students’ in-person advice from their designated academic advisers and can also be used to inform students about various scholarships and grants available to them. Likewise, AI-related tools can give students additional information about studying abroad or finding summer internships which relate to their studies.
Looking towards the future, it is in the realm of AI technology where classroom learning across all levels will probably be most transformed. For students, the possibility of being tutored by AI bots, which can personalise study plans and assess their academic progress, is very real.
The emergence of new AI technologies will also make teachers’ jobs simultaneously simpler and more complex. Responsibilities previously within the domain of teachers, such as assessing coursework and performing administrative duties will be greatly simplified. In addition, there also will be a need for teachers themselves to learn how to use new classroom technologies and to engage with their students in a digital environment. The sooner a greater number of learning institutions start to embrace these technologies, the sooner their immense benefits will be felt by students in schools and universities.