Adapting learning to new knowledge technology

Digital technology is impacting the education ecosystem in a big way. Be it primary schools or centers of higher studies, the way learning is imparted has undergone a sea change these last 25 years.

Classrooms all over the world are becoming ‘smarter’, even the poorest nations are turning to the internet or a connected digitized device to impart knowledge. A Pew Research Center survey found that 58 percent of United States teachers own smartphones — 10 percentage points higher than the national average for adults.  A 2013 research says that 25 percent of United States schools promoted BYOD (Bring your own devices to school ) policies. By 2018, this number has surely gone up by a large degree.  Online courses, adaptive learning and massive online courses (MOOCs) are continuously expanding through new education technology (ed-tech).

A recent survey by Deloitte found that as the world becomes more connected and parents, students and teachers get access to some form of a connected device, the way education is perceived has also changed. The study found 88 percent of parents, 84 percent of teachers, and 75 percent of students in their sample group were interested in supplementing the learning process in the classroom to after school hours.

It has been amply proven by research that children find technology assisted learning helpful. Vocabulary apps, quizzes and games for the three Rshave helped students in their learning process.

Another study by the Mayo Clinic found that millennials responded better to an education environment made up of collaboration, feedback, technology and mentorship. 

Technology enhances learning and the academic process by providing experiences that promote deep learning. It allows students to collaborate, design and test new models in the way they imbibe a subject both visually and verbally.

With the cost of higher education getting prohibitive and out of reach for most, online learning courses are a viable alternative. A quick internet search will throw up many options such as edX, Coursera, Udemy and Khan Academy. These courses can be customized and are open-ended allowing students flexibility, and the prices range from zero to a few dollars.

Beyond that many universities are also offering online degree courses which are fast-paced and help students save time and money both.

Research by Professor R. Keith Sawyer, a leading scientific expert on creativity and learning, emphasizes the power of technology in influencing and enhancing academia by providing experiences that lead to deep learning. These include allowing students to learn collaboratively, test out and redesign models, and articulate their knowledge both visually and verbally. Although, it is said that the way human psychology imbibes knowledge has not evolved much, but the tools of the trade or the external factors that influence it have undergone a tremendous change.  The digital revolution has given us new ways of learning, imbibing and retaining knowledge.

People are talking of the fourth Industrial revolution and in the edu-tech field the revolution has just touched the surface with internet and digitization. With more people accessing this alternative way of acquiring new skillsets, the vast amount of data being collected in the ways students are interacting with the technology is immense. David Kuntz, an innovator and leader in this field, believes that “through the intensive use of data analysis and machine learning techniques, the programs will advance through several ‘tiers of adaptivity’, each offering greater personalization through more advanced automation.”

Online education providers are already using the data generated by their systems to research and test the ways people respond to various channels of learning.It should be noted that all innovations in pedagogy need practical study and the resultant data thrown up should lead to innovation and improvements in methodology.

But one should not get carried away by all these changes.Edu tech, like digital learning platforms or online CPA courses, is a tool of knowledge, but the human element in education is what throws up the surprise element. There are some subjects that respond better to technology adaptation, and others which need the classroom and human experience of nuances, and give and take to throw up new ideas.

Teaching and learning in a classroom experience on a college campus are difficult to replicate on a computer screen. There are concerns also that computer knowledge somehow stifles creativity and academic rigor. Online courses come with some in-built pushes or hints and guidance to help students, which some think fails in the purpose of pushing academic standards.

Allowing mobile devices in schools comes with its own set of challenges. There is the question of costs. Not all students have access to internet and devices at home. Also, schools need to be clear on the online curriculum and how the interaction and engagement should be handled.

Innovations in the way education and technology adapt to each other are inevitable, but what should be kept in mind is the way this collaboration is utilized to impart knowledge.

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