Redefining the Role of Technology in Education
Due to the rise of the internet and new technologies, the concept of traditional learning has radically changed within the last couple of years. Being physically present in the classroom is no longer required as we have entered the era of online learning. In this blog, we will discuss the role of technology in education with the eLearning platform and will also understand its changing roles.
Technology – A Bridge for Connecting Students with School
Technology has been playing a monumental role in education. According to John King, U.S. Secretary of Education, “One of the most important aspects of technology in education is its ability to level the field of opportunities for students.”
Right from the beginning, toddlers have an early introduction to technology, when they start using their parents’ smartphones, laptops, or tablets (even before they learn to speak). There are educational games that prepare them for school.
When children see their favorite cartoon characters or different animations, they are able to comprehend most of the concepts on their own. Therefore, imparting technology-based education from their early childhood is definitely a positive idea as digital learning involves the use of all their senses while learning in a playful manner.
Moving forward, technology plays an integral role in education as its main purpose is to change how teachers and students gather, access, analyze and deliver information. This can aid in the democratization of information in classrooms as well as help in differentiating instruction, particularly for students with special needs.
Assistive Technology for Students with Special Needs
Assistive technology can be defined as a piece of equipment, an item, or a product that can be used to maintain, improve or increase the functional capabilities of any individual with special needs.
Covid-19 and the Role of Technology and Pedagogy on Education During Pandemic
When Covid-19 swept across the world in 2020, schools were closed and education was moved to homes. Digital technology played a significant role in enabling teachers to teach students at a distance. These tools (digital) enabled both synchronous and asynchronous communication with the whole class, individual children, groups, or young people.
The learning material was also easily accessible online. As per a recent survey, the response to Covid-19 speeded the adoption of digital technology for several years in the education sector. Hence, the pandemic redefined education for everyone as digital adoption took a quantum leap at the individual and industry levels.
Emerging Roles of Technology in Education
Education empowered by technology has taken three distinctive roles and these require us to distinguish between them. These roles cover educational technology system stages of:
- The Medium/Resource Role
- The Management Role
- The Delivery Role
Technology plays the role of a medium and that of a resource where information is available at the fingertips of the instructors/students in various formats. Further, numerous appliances exist in the market today that can be used to address the specific needs of different individuals in a variety of academic disciplines. Audiobooks, headsets, and caption videos are all effective tools for the development of critical language skills. Moreover, there are several e-communities with virtual research centers that form a global resource system of technology-supported education.
Instructional materials can also be saved on several devices such as student’s home computers, flash drives, mobile devices, iPods, laptops, iPads, and more. Students can also take photos and record videos of activities for inclusion in projects and assignments.
Teachers can use these devices to text students information about assignments or remind them about the submission dates. Some futuristic educationalists gather that education will become highly interactive, flexible, accessible, and individualized when viewed through the role of technology, i.e. as a medium/resource.
Challenges of Using Technology – Medium/Resource Role
There are some concerns about the role of technology as a medium or a resource.
- There is depersonalization as real people are substituted with technology.
- Students can misuse time by getting distracted by devices such as mobile phones. Inappropriate use may also include – texting friends, playing games, cheating in exams, watching movies, and more.
- Technological gadgets are expensive and the internet speed is not the same in all geographical areas. This may lead to an issue of a digital divide which means less opportunity for a few individuals in the new information-based society.
Many non-instructional campus functions have been transformed by technology. This includes registration, enrollment management, timetabling, billing, library services, payroll, and much more. Technology also helps in conducting interactive teleconferencing interviews, designing institutional webpages, and management of departmental portals and promotional materials.
Additionally, administrators use technology to perform routine tasks to maximize productivity or assist staff in completing non-mechanical tasks. It supports technical services like institutional administration, distribution, and production of instructional materials, provision of consultancy on the curriculum, provision of blended courses, and much more.
The role of technology in management can affect institutional cost-effectiveness. The application of technology improves the quality of education in institutions by making the lectures readable, seeable, and hearable for a number of students in crowded classrooms.
Challenges of Using Technology – Management Role
Some notable challenges of using technology in the management role are:
- Data Security
- Lack of IT staffing
- Requires management and training
Technology has been transformed to have a new role, the role of delivery, i.e. through eLearning, virtual learning, m-learning, and multimedia learning, certain devices like mobile phones with internet, have the capability to deliver knowledge and instructions.
eLearning can also be defined as a learning method that combines a variety of non-traditional instructional techniques and approaches to design, development, management, and evaluation of the learning process.
It supports other delivery methods such as web-resourced learning, virtual learning, blended learning, and mobile learning. In addition, web-based learning becomes an integral component of student-faculty communication managed by eLearning management (e.g. Moodle, WebCT). Further, eLearning, as a delivery mode, has the following features:
- Flexibility – Students can self-learn at their own pace and time using the self-learning modules.
- Accessibility – Students can access various online delivery methods from any location around the world.
- Feasibility – By combining various online delivery methods that use self-paced materials, eLearning can reduce and balance instructional costs to the minimum.
- Collaboration – Using educational technologies, students can collaborate to learn anytime and anywhere.
Challenge of Using Technology – Delivery Role
- Not all parties can own educational technology hardware such as LCDs, projectors, laptops, and other objects that are used in the delivery process.
Role of Technology in Education (Subject Wise)
In today’s world, all of us are interlinked with technology. From teachers to students, technology leaves a vast impact on education. In relation to subject areas such as math, Kissane (2003), suggests that technology has three roles:
- A Computational Role – Humans use technology to complete difficult tasks.
- An Influential Role – The availability of technology needs to be considered in deciding what is more important in the curriculum.
- An Experiential Role – New possibilities for teaching and learning the subject through technology.
Technology in Education – The Way Forward
Overall, technology is central to many aspects of society and its integration into the educational system has a great promise for student learning. Moreover, to remain globally competitive and develop engaged citizens, schools/institutions need to weave 21st-century competencies and expertise throughout the learning experience. Hence, eLearning should be disseminated to learners, delivering education to them in their place, beyond the barriers that may impede learning in the traditional classroom.
The landscape of students’ and tutors’ expectations’ is changing dramatically. They are more in favor of eLearning. Hence, the role of technology in education cannot be ignored as it enters a transition phase from the role of medium only to management and delivery/teaching mode.
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