Technology in a simple definition is the application of scientific knowledge to solve problems, make work easy or simply accomplish tasks. Technology could be that simple farm tool discovered by our ancestors or the complicated science of space exploration – what is of essence is the fact that work is made easy, andmore possibilities opened up, that which would otherwise remain in fiction books. It is practical in every sphere of life from medicine, agriculture, transport, manufacturing and construction, to service industries.
Technology, to say the least, in this day and age is a necessary evil in the society, and no less in education. Every individual working in the aforementioned fields passes through various stages of education for training, even on how to work with the technological aspects of their field of specialization.
I will explore every level of education, from elementary school to the advanced levels of doctorate studies and highlight the potential of technology at each level.
Children in elementary school learn mostly by listening to sounds and pronouncing them appropriately. They also learn by seeing images of objects and being told what they are, so that in return they are able to identify them, and with them. Every learner in this stage needs to hear sounds and see captivating images that capture their attention and concentration. Needless to say, anything short of this is a turn off to the young learner. On the contrary, bright and colorful images, and sweet musical sounds will keep the young mind interested in learning and learning!
So, how does technology help this young learner? A number of equipment can be used to achieve this. First, videos can be made for them. A video is an appropriate teaching aid that can be accessed on mobile phones, computers, tablets, and even on television when the data is stored in devices such as flash disks and SD cards. Second, still images can be accessed for teaching purposes on the same media. By such means, a child’s capacity to concentrate is enhanced, preparing them for the more intense learning sessions as they grow older.
When a child has learnt the basics of sounds and speech, they venture into deeper learning of languages, arithmetic, arts, and sciences – each according to their field of interest.
Depending on the area of specialization, a learner has so much need for technology to help them achieve their goals. A student of languages needs the online applications that help them translate one language to another. They need to verify the meanings of words that are not familiar hence helping them build their vocabulary. They need to check the context of use of such words and or phrases.
A student using such apps has a wider access to a variety of content, as compared to one using print media and books that take time before newer, current editions are released and made availableeven the Pro-Papers online. Technology in this context helps the learner enjoy unlimited access to information.
The fact that updating data in a digital format is much easier than doing a whole new edition of a book gives the learner the opportunity to access relatively current information as well as the older versions of the same.
Many institutions of higher learning have taken to offering online courses that students undertake from the comfort of their homes. On many occasions, students who have graduated in a given field choose to look for jobs immediately after their graduation so that they minimize or eliminate dependency. Due to tight work schedules, making it for full time post graduate studies becomes unachievable.
In order to add knowledge, specialize or just create a competitive advantage over peers at the workplace, one may enroll for the online courses. Needless to say, both student and learner leverage on the ability of technology to relay educational materials from the tutor to the learner, and vice versa for evaluation of the student’s progress. The student does not have to sit in a physical library to do their research, nor search on several shelves for such books containing the information they need. Such precious time is saved through a click of a button!
While at it, the student also has a variety of institutions to choose from, which is not limited to his or her geographical location! I can be a student in Africa studying in an American school while in Africa.
Online learning also nullifies barriers to access of education. A physically disabled student does not have to struggle accessing an institution of learning since they can easily study online, as some may need to be under constant watch and help of a caregiver. Technology enables the blind student to read and write by use of braille. Deaf learners are not left out when it comes to schooling as hearing aids are available to those who can use them.
Adverse weather conditions such as floods and heavy rains sometimes become a barrier to accessing institutions of learning. When such occurrences happen, a teacher who is technologically equipped, along with the student, can carry on with the business of school from diverse locations, even if the adverse occurrence went on for weeks! Learning is not inhibited and time is not lost either.
Technology when appropriately applied also helps cut on the cost on education. Learning materials saved in digital formats is available without limitation on the timespan. Physical books on the other hand wear out with time and need regular replacement. This is an expense that is borne by the institution or the learners themselves. Both learners and tutors are also exempted from having to incur transport expenses to and from schools.
All over the world, technology in the education sector has helped increase accessibility to educational opportunities and materials, made learning fun and enjoyable, eliminated or reduced some costs associated with schooling, and has also dealt with the barriers that would otherwise impede access to and ability to study.