A decade or so ago who would have a thought technology will play the role of a catalyst in the field of education. Technology is a catalyst for not just change but a revolution. The use of advanced technology driven learning methodologies are changing the academic environment at multiple levels.
In fact, it is helping students understand concepts better and at the same allowing educators explore unique, interactive and highly engaging avenues to impart learning.
The world of education is experiencing a paradigm shift with respect to student-teacher relationships and the classroom environment. This is a result of a number of technology trends that are ushering an education revolution of sorts. Let’s take a look at some of these trends:
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
BYOD is not a new trend in education, but when it first made its appearance on the scene, there were very few schools or institutes of learning that adopted this concept. But today, the BYOD is a wave that is fast reaching its crest; with technology especially smartphones becoming cheaper, carrying devices to school is no longer prohibitive.
BYOD is increasingly being embraced by learning institutions to not just improve learning experiences of students but teacher productivity, as well. Schools have begun preparing policies that will allow them to integrate the use of devices in classroom. The purpose behind using BYOD is not only limited to using technology for improving student learning but also teacher productivity. The idea is to also expand the capabilities of existing technology systems that are already being used. A case in point being tablets being used to improve existing technology infrastructure in the form of computers.
It is important to understand that BYOD doesn’t seem to add new technology, but enhances the technology investment already made by the school. It’s an add-on that helps leverage existing learning methodologies and technology systems to take them to the next level. BYOD is an attempt to shift from print resources to digital resources that are usually housed in the cloud making access to learning resources affordable and real time.
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)
Let’s face it education, specifically premier high quality education is becoming expensive and prohibitively so. By their very nature MOOCs are a means to reduce the cost of learning and also expanding higher education. While such courses have been doing the rounds for many years now, there is still time before they will be adopted in an across the board manner.
While educators believe MOOCs will be the foundation of a web empowered learning environment of the future, these courses are yet to take off in a big way. But, there are colleges slowly getting on board the MOOCs revolution that will begin offering MOOCs courses in a few years. There is very little doubt that this is a technology trend that has a huge shelf life and will come into its own slowly but surely. It is a trend whose potential to revolutionize education is immense.
Social Media Tools
No list of technology trends can be complete without mentioning social media. In fact, we are increasingly finding the imprint of social media in education. You already have teachers using social networks like Facebook to increase the collaboration between students of a class by creating a Facebook page for the classroom. Universities are creating their own social networks for their students and public social networks focused on students like UNII.COM are getting popular.
What we will witness in the not too distant future is a deluge of platforms offering the same experiences that the popular social media platforms are offering today, with one critical difference; these platforms will be specially designed for students and teachers. Imagine a scenario wherein, students from India are discussing the merits and/or demerits of their learning systems or a Math lecture with students in Chile or Peru. That’s going to happen and it will happen soon enough. Inter personal relationships will develop amongst students with learning as the central theme. The scope of such platforms is limitless.
Imagine a scenario in which technology recognizes the personal learning needs of a particular student and recommends learning methodologies to teachers that will be a perfect fit for the student’s needs. Think this is straight out a science fiction movie? No it isn’t; it’s very real and it’s happening. IBM has come up with advanced learning technology solutions known as PETALS (Personalized Education Through Analytics on Learning Systems) that use predictive modeling, advance case management, machine learning and deep content analytics. This technology will help learning move towards a more personalized approach that seeks to identify the learning needs of individuals and create customized learning pathways that help satisfy these needs. As can be imagined, this will improve learning outcomes and at the same time improve the student’s overall performance throughout his/her academic life.
This is not a one off research technology project; such technologies that seek to personalize education are in varying degrees of testing and adoption. Of course it will be a long time before such technologies are used commonly across education institutes; but the fact that we are already talking about such technology and there is a buzz around them, means we are well on our way to personalizing learning.
Technology has always had a role to play in education. Whether it’s the desktop computers that are still popularly used or the internet, the projector or the various tools that are improving the interactive learning experience of students, technology is doing its bit to improve education by increasing the caliber of students and teachers. There is no doubt that the technology trends doing the rounds today will experience popular adoption, in the near future giving way to newer and better trends. All in all it’s wonderful news for education and all its stakeholders.