New Media EdTech: Let Us Take Sides Now

Every Communication, by and large, has one thing in common: The Communicators must connect to the expectations and needs of the receivers, and this only leads to the desired response for them.

World has taught us to customise our messages, word selection, graphics and all sort of expressive tools. As a communicator, I or you will surely give a thought to the desired outcome of the whole communication journey. After coding the messages in the best possible form, one has to look for mediums, tools, equipment, apparatus or the vehicles for these communiqués.

A lively and engaging medium will pay back in good; an inappropriate selection gets you where you never wanted to. This is what we know as Communication Management and it corresponds to advancements with the time and age. In this age of EduSoMedia (Education through Social Media), a teacher, parents, mentors, counselors, or even the students/learners themselves, cannot neglect the originality of experiences gained through the use of New Media.

When a teacher ethically ‘conspires’ student learning outcomes, the prime focus is on the right selection of the weapon he or she intends to take along. We talk of the Smart Classes, mainly at school level, and we widely acknowledge the upcoming teaching technologies. This paradigm shift has been incorporated in the higher education as well. The western education thinkers have been successfully evolving new ways to utilize the new media tools like, Blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr etc.

“The power of social media can be easily known by the number of tasks we can perform through it like collaborate, moderate, debate, comment, question, contribute, post, chat, video conference, microblog, instant message and text.”

The educational advantages that these modes of social connectivity give are numerous and can be very fruitful in creating participatory learning. Stephen Gilfus, president and CEO of a research and advisory group focused on global education innovation, says: “I sincerely believe that we have now entered the ‘dot edu’ era which will stimulate and transform students, instructors, institutions and the global economy to reach new horizons”.

Educational Technology has been transformed significantly as to what was a mere group of distance learning and online learning agencies, has become a big world in itself. There have been substantial changes, experiments, innovations, adaptations, modifications, rejections, mergers and break-ups in the last two decades. We talk of India and we see that the globalization of economy not only brought foreign hands and machines to India, it brought minds too. The opening of India to the world, coming of cable television, setting up of educational channels and developing dedicated satellites to education have paved the way to what we call New Media for Education. The conventional face-to-face (F2F) ritualized teaching and learning has got tough challenge from the ‘Blended Environment’, ‘Flipped Classroom’, ‘Online Learning’, ‘EduSoMedia’ and has successfully negotiated to integrate itself with the new technologies.

Collaborative Learning Models (CLM) have been evolved through this transition from traditional pedagogical approaches to the hybrid model of learning and training. McKnight says that “The transition [will continue] en masse to online and hybrid models for collaborative learning.” There is better connectivity and collaboration now.

Some of the gizmos supporting this expedition are as follows:

  • Online Class Rooms (over the Web/Internet)
  • Collaborative Class Rooms on the Institutional Network (Intranet)
  • Video Conferencing, Tele-Conferencing, Audio-Conferencing, Video Portals etc
  • Webinars, Hangouts etc.
  • Flipped Classrooms
  • Blogging, Discussion Forums
  • Personal Learning Network (PLN)
  • Online Education Video Lectures for Traditional Courses
  • Programmed Instructions (Softwares and Apps)
  • Social Media Tools i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram etc.

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Since the 1950s when the world famous education scientist, B.F. Skinner described how programmes could be developed scientifically that can assist the trivial instructional goals and also enhance the intellectual skills too, such as problem solving abilities, the formulation and expression of new ideas, the exploration of new fields and making the participant tech-savvy. Since then, education has been on one of the most progressive paths.  

The benefits of implementing technology in education are already evident on the Smart Classes at school level and henceforth in the higher education institutions as well. More and more business-corporate houses are coming into education as they need a skilled workforce that can handle the assignments according to the organisational visions.

EdTech is about evolving the educational approaches and implementing them with rationale at the class room level. Students today want the teacher to talk what they are breathing through and an educator cannot miss this opportunity of taking them along. Social Media has a reach like a spy on their minds and if we use these - with caution but not with fear-, we create learning comradeship- amity in wisdom. The curious minds shall become more self-assured and the percentage of learning, be it science, engineering, humanities or arts, is enhanced considerably. A report from the US (can be applied to India to a large extent) says that the learners in EdTech Mode increased their reading skills by 150 percent, pronunciation skills by 100 percent, speaking skills by 75 percent.

The new political culture in India is also supportive of the above testimony of the idea to implement what is available. This is collaborative learning and we have seen what collaboration over the media platforms does. All political parties did the best possible to sustain and survive in this advanced communication twizzle. People have become Tweeple! In this country of young working generation, the number of people using internet has substantially increases and this is what education technology is eying at.

Millions of people have access to the basic social networking tools like Facebook, same is for Twitter, and Blogging is also on the rise and is considered a prime task for those who are expressive. Public Information Campaigns are planted and even the lobbyists implement propaganda to accomplish their goals. Then why not Education Sector does the same on ethical grounds and intentions?

The advocates of educational technologies firmly say: “As communication technologies improve and we learn how to use them better, the requirement for people to meet face-to-face for effective teaching and learning will diminish.” (Peter Pinch, Director of Technology, WGBH)

The higher levels of comfort with technology among the general population are the driving force of the EdTech Renaissance. Historic Barriers, Traditional as well as Stereotyped Pedagogy, the Walled Class Rooms, have been left overwhelmed by the widespread Broadband, cheaper devices, digitally available content and cloud computing (online data storage drives). Facilitating collaborative learning among groups as well as in organisations, various EdTech tools and EduSoMedia have connected people eliminating the geographical remoteness. The use of technology in teaching-learning complements F2F communication and enriches the learning route by getting an active access to learning resources.

There is a long way to go for Educational Technology and to take a review of this; one has to keep the mind map open-wide open in fact. The fundamental question is no longer whether to go along with EdTech or not, but how to blend this newness effectively in education, including the higher education.

The World is becoming an EdTech World!

Let us not delay it now; Let Us Take Sides with the EdTech Mission!

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About the Author
Author: Parveen Kumar SharmaWebsite:
Parveen Sharma is an Educator working in the domain of Communication Skills for the last 13 years. He has been involved in the teaching and training of K-12 and HigherEd students as well as teachers. He is an expert as well as a user of various innovative tools and resources. Moodle, MOOCs, LMS, Online Assessment Tools, Podcasts, Graphics in Edu, Blogging, OER are some of his expert areas. He is a Blogger, Podcaster, Poet, Public Speaker and EdTech Evangelist who has been integrating technology into daily classroom learning. He blogs on and conducts training sessions for teachers on the subject of Classroom Makeover, EduSoMedia and Communication Skills.

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