Just a few short years ago, digital technology in schools was confined to computer labs and students mostly relied on textbooks and handwritten lecture notes to learn their lessons. But those days are no more. Modern classrooms increasingly rely on digital technologies. Today’s college student needs to leave for school with laptop, tablet, and smartphone in hand; even K-12 schools are taking steps to ensure that their students have access to devices that they can use to review lessons, do homework, and collaborate with other students.
Digital technologies are making it easier for students to work together. They streamline the assessment process, and are a boon to students with special needs. Many teachers are using technology to turn the traditional lesson-then-homework model on its head, delivering the lesson electronically and then using class time to help students grapple with their homework questions. But that’s not all – today’s students are no longer bound by geographical and physical constraints in their search for knowledge. Thanks to global communications networks, they can have almost instantaneous access to virtual classrooms and library databases at universities anywhere in the world.
Students Have Access to More Information Than Ever Before
It used to be that students had to rely on what information they could get from their textbooks, their teachers, and the school library when doing their assignments. But thanks to the Internet and the digital devices used to access it, students now have the collective knowledge of all mankind at their fingertips. Physical textbooks will soon be replaced by e–books, which are cheaper, more interactive, easy to access from anywhere, and more likely to contain .
Teacher-Student Interaction and Student Collaboration Are Growing
Thanks to digital communications technologies, teachers and students are able to interact more closely than ever. Teachers can now be available to their students via email or social networks. The traditional role of the educator is evolving; students at all levels of education are more engaged, and the teacher is now more of a facilitator of learning than a dispenser of knowledge.
Digital technologies also allow for closer collaboration between students. It’s easier than ever for students to work together in and outside of the classroom, thanks to technologies that enable instant digital communication and collaborative editing of documents.
Education Has Become More Personalized
As you’ll learn when you in instructional design and technology, education largely relies on delivering information in multiple ways to suit multiple learning styles. Thanks to digital technologies, teachers now have more flexibility than ever when it comes to accommodating different learning styles or students with special needs.
Lessons can be customized to suit each student’s level of progress. Students who learn best through hands-on activities can be accommodated alongside those who learn best through listening to a lecture, watching a video, or reading a report. Technology enables students to work at their own pace, so that advanced students can get the enrichment they need and those who are struggling can get extra help.
Immersive Learning Is Becoming Easier
Thanks to virtual world platforms, today’s students have access to immersive learning opportunities that simply aren’t available in any other manner. This goes beyond spending a semester in Spain to learn Spanish; students can now use virtual world technology to experience firsthand what life was like in a prehistoric village, or practice evacuating employees from a burning oil rig. Some schools are even saving money on expensive lab space and equipment by having students do their lab work in a virtual environment.
Geography Is No Longer a Barrier to Learning
Global communications technology has made it possible for students to attend classes at any university in the world without leaving home. Many schools now offer online degree programs that are indistinguishable from those conferred after a series of traditional classes in a brick-and-mortar classroom. As a result, more people than ever are gaining access to educational resources. Who knows what scientific breakthroughs could come from a student who, just 15 or 20 years ago, wouldn’t have had access to a university education due to constraints imposed by his or her geographical location?
Technology is changing every facet of the way we live our lives — including the way we educate our children and young people. Many of these changes will make education more accessible, more affordable, and easier to deliver. More of us are becoming better-educated than at any point in history, thanks to digital technologies.
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