Imagine going back in time, before the onset of the internet, and having to write a seminar paper for one of your university courses. Sounds easy? Well, think again. Nowadays, we take most of our technology for granted, but back in the day, you’d have to go through the whole tedious process of searching the university libraries manually, writing stuff down on a piece of paper, and then typing it all over again. There were no digital libraries you could access online from the comforts of your home, there were no copy and paste features you could exploit, and there was no Microsoft Word to tell you how to spell the word ‘conscientiously’. Now, going back to the future, how exactly has technology changed our system of education thus far?
Knowledge became more accessible
Well, first of all, education has become a lot more accessible than it was just a few decadesago, thanks to the rapid growth of the internet. Today, students are no longer geographically bound to their universities and can access a plethora of online libraries and sources remotely. What’s more, there’s an increasing number of online teaching platforms such as Khan Academy, MOOCs, and even some legit universities have online degree programs. Podcasts, webinars, and video conference calls are yet another thing which makes remote learning not just viable but a lot more fun. According to Statista, by 2022, the global e-learning market is projected to surpass a worth of 243 billion U.S. dollars, which means e-learning is here to stay.
Nowadays, communication is not just faster, it’s instant. As a result, students from all around the world can stay in contact with their tutors and colleagues even after school, through the use of e-mails and live messengers. This means that the days when you had to camp in front of your mentor’s office during office hours are a thing of the past. Some universities are even opting for the use of sophisticated chat-bots to aid students in the admissions process. However, while fully-fledged virtual peers are still out of the equation, group projects with real people have never been simpler. With the ability to rapidly share and download data from the cloud, multiple people can now work on the same project simultaneously.
Boosting efficiency and performance
The main deal with technology is that it allows us to focus on the more important aspects of learning, while it deals with the more repetitive elements of the process. For example, note-taking is such an arduous task in itself. You have to scribble down notes really fast and actually pay attention to what your mentor is saying at the same time. For this reason, some people prefer to record their lectures. However, manually transcribing them afterwards takes forever, as you’re constantly playing back that part you couldn’t really make out the first time, easily prolonging a one-hour lesson to two. Instead, what you should be doing is uploading that same recording to some fast online academic transcription services and letting the machines do all the hard work for you while you watch TV and hang out with your friends. For as the saying goes: work smarter, not harder.
Arrival of digital content
In the past, you had to sacrifice a huge chunk of your locker, and your bag, to carry the crazy amount of books you needed for every subject. Today, you just place them on your flash drive and stick them in your pocket. The digitalization of textbooks has made life so much easier, but e-books are only the beginning. In modern-day classrooms, various types of digital content are used to aid in the teaching process. This includes educational videos, interactive games, digital textbooks, and so on. Also, a good thing about digital content is that it’s extremely flexible and made readily available, meaning that tutors don’t have to rely solely on the same-old textbooks and strict schedules but can resort to improvisation to spark their pupils’ curiosity.
With the advent of AI, we are slowly able to measure the individual progress of each student and find specific areas in which they require further assistance. In the near future, this AI and teacher collaboration will change the dynamic of the classroom, as the environment shifts more towards the virtual. For example, Carnegie Learning has created the Mika software which already provides personalized tutoring and real-time feedback for college freshman, while Netex Learning allows teachers to design their curriculums across different digital platforms and devices by customizing student material and so on. Despite this though, artificial intelligence is still in its infant stages. It might take a while before we see robots running around schools lecturing children.
To sum up, the modern classroom has already felt the effect of the internet, of cloud-based technologies, instant messaging, digital content, and AI experimentation. Now it’s up to the classroom of tomorrow to show what new and interesting inventions we’re going to utilize next.
~ Authored by Elaine Bennett