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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Technology in Education

‘Technology’ – the 90s hot word and the 21st Century’s cliché – is fast catching up with education systems across the world. Generation Z’s tech savviness, is causing great distress when they are being asked to power down in the classroom. The internet and, now, cloud computing have decentralised information sharing and web-based learning. 2011 saw 5 billion mobile phone subscribers and over 2 billion internet subscribers. Technology has penetrated even the bottom-of- the- pyramid households bringing with it access to information and amenities. While we move to even greater technological paradigms where 3D telepresence and robot teachers may also be available, the use of technology in education is constantly being improved and better integrated, evolving pedagogy and curriculum to suit new age learners.

Technology has transformed teaching, and learning experiences. The teacher can use various devices and applications now available to stop ‘telling’ and help students in ‘finding’ the answers. For example, Flip Teaching is a form of blended learning which encompasses any use of technology to leverage the learning in a classroom, so a teacher can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing. Technology has created an environment of enquiry, where self learning is employed to quench a student’s curiosity. Technology has enabled a somewhat level playing field where all those who possess the technology have equal access to resources. It has broken geographical boundaries to make inter cultural learning possible. Audio visual tools have enriched learning experiences, presenting content that immediately sticks and creates a deeper understanding of core concepts.

Here we list some of the top technologies that have impacted education systems:


1. Laptops/tablets 
Computers transformed everything about our lives, and then came laptops that brought portability to every operation performed on the computer. 

The One Laptop per Child Foundation built affordable laptops for the use of children in schools. Uruguay placed the highest order for these, providing every primary school child a laptop by 2009. 

Kenya has just piloted pocket PC use in their classroom through the Eduvision E-Slates. These e-slates are sold as being cost effective products, as they cost only about as much as the cost of a school years text books, but their utility and durability extends to beyond a year. 

India has adopted this model and commissioned the development of the $35 Aakash Tablet to link 25,000 colleges and 400 universities in an e-learning program. 

Access to a laptop means access to digital interactive content, quick learning tools, and through the World Wide Web, to a vast repository of information. With laptops, learning is independent of time and place and students can learn at their own pace.

2. Classroom tools
Classroom tools include interactive white boards, recorders, media players, and learning devices.

Panthenean, targeting high end classrooms, has pioneered the development of ActiveBoards, which come in sizes up to 95” and provide an interactive interface with teaching content for students. Students can use the interactive screen to view different media, as well as edit it and play with it. The range of Active products is supported by Panthenean Planet, a platform that provides resources and content for learning as well as allows teachers to share resources and interact. 

The Hitachi StarBoard is also an interactive white board that comes with such apps as Math Whizz and Cyber Science 3D.

3. Game based learning 
Kids today spend hours playing computer or video games.

The Scottish Government has a supported a project developed by The Consolarium to integrate games into the classroom. Game design has now been embedded directly in the new “Scottish Curriculum for Excellence” and its learning outcomes. The Consolarium has a comprehensive collection of gaming resources including Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation, Nintendo DS, Eye Toy, and Dance Mats and has successfully integrated a number of games into Scottish Classrooms. 

In India, a company called Indusgeeks aims to develop games and stimulations for teaching of various disciplines at the school and at the corporate level.

4. Mobile Learning 
Mobile learning has taken the ‘anytime, anywhere’ learning module and made transformed it into ‘everywhere and all-the-time learning.’ Now students can work on their projects while riding on the bus on the way back from school, or taking their siblings to soccer practice.

In Katy Independent School district (Texas) and Tom’s River School district (New Jersey), 5th graders were given cell phones and net access. It was seen that every child did every piece of homework, and on time.

Project K- Nect launched in North Carolina in 2008 provided low income students in public schools with mobile devices and wireless internet to improve their Algebra score. It was observed that their scores improved by 30%. 

Another project, Virtual Virginia is the Virginia Department of Education’s online course provider that makes it possible for students to access textbooks through their mobile phones. Several Applications such as ‘Shakespeare in Bits,’ ‘Mathboard,’ ‘The World Factbook,’ the ‘Britannica’ series – all allow for enriched mobile experiences.


5. Teacher Sharing
Learning outcomes are as good as the teacher’s teaching. The internet has created several platforms for teachers to interact and share resources online. Some of the most profiled of these sites is ‘lektion.se’ of Sweden and ‘kenissnet.nl’ of Netherlands.


A drawback in implementing technology in the classroom is the cost associated with doing so. Teacher training is also essential for effective use and implementation of technology in the classroom, as an understanding of what technology can do for you and how teaching methods need to evolve to incorporate technology is essential.