When I’m home on break or a long weekend and working on stuff for school, my family seems impressed by how much we do online these days. My parents are a bit older, and while they’re good with computers, they say they didn’t do nearly so much on them in college as we do now. And my grandfather, a retired college professor, is totally blown away.
I know a lot has changed, but I’m curious about how, and whether or not it’s a good thing. How is technology transforming our education system (at all levels), and is it making us smarter?
There is no doubt at all that our education system has changed with the arrival of new technologies, say higher education administration at Linfield College. Whether it’s actually making us learn faster or more effectively is, of course, a separate question!
One obvious place where technology is changing education is on the administrative side of schools. Schools now keep electronic records and use computer programs to calculate grades–and, in many cases, teachers use programs to receive and evaluate the individual assignments that make up those larger grades.
That brings us to the next fact about technology: how it affects the student experience. Students are now expected to have technological resources and an internet connection at many stages in their education–something that can present an issue in lower-income areas. But technology is also responsible for opening up education to folks who might not otherwise be able to get to class. Online distance education programs now take their subject matter to far more students than were ever reached by older ideas like correspondence courses.
Technology is also affecting the way we learn. Experts have been researching our learning patterns and other key secrets of the science of learning for years and years, but with the help of computer programmers, they can now use this information to design new ways to bring proven curriculum to students all over. This does not come without controversy, as some teachers feel that it undercuts their authority and autonomy, but it’s a fascinating look at one of the most direct ways that education is being changed by technology.
Does this new curriculum help us learn? Does technology make teachers better, or just make some parts of their jobs easier? That’s open for debate, but some studies back the trend: for instance, multiple studies have suggested that adding iPads to classrooms improves student learning outcomes. On the other hand, some experts believe that technology is sapping kids’ attention spans and hurting their ability to work in class. We can only hope that, with luck and hard work, the progress we make in technology and educational science will help us improve the learning and lives of future generation.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” — Nelson Mandela