Many of today’s high-demand jobs were created in the last decade, according to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). As advances in technology drive globalization and digital transformation, teachers can help students acquire the necessary skills to succeed in the careers of the future.
The COVID-19 pandemic is quickly demonstrating why online education should be a vital part of teaching and learning. By integrating technology into existing curricula, as opposed to using it solely as a crisis-management tool, teachers can harness online learning as a powerful educational tool.
With that in mind, let’s explore how technology has changed higher education and what other changes to expect in the near future.
Access to Education
Just a few decades ago, computers were limited commodities that only the wealthy could afford. This technological gap put the less financially fortunate at a disadvantage from the start. Today, computers and other resources are distributed throughout the world, which means everyone can access online resources such as books, journals, videos, and audio recordings. We have knowledge at our fingertips at all times.
The effective use of digital learning tools in classrooms can increase student engagement, help teachers improve their lesson plans, and facilitate personalized learning. It also helps students build essential 21st-century skills.
Technology has also opened numerous opportunities for fast communication between teachers and students. We can share information and opinions through emails, discussion boards, video conferences, and more. Social media platforms with limited content restrictions give us constant flows of information. One can argue whether unfiltered discussion is a good or bad thing for formal education, but it’s undeniably a necessity in a world that upholds freedom of speech.
New Learning Environments
Access to technology has allowed us to create new learning environments where intelligence and a genuine desire for truth beat any agenda. The classroom lecture is still the backbone of most universities, but even that environment has changed due to technology. Laptops have replaced notebooks. PDFs and other online resources have replaced textbooks. Teachers can use more than their lecture notes and a chalkboard to display information.
Online learning and other remote learning styles have also become more prevalent in recent years. Millions of students worldwide had to resume their studies from home due to COVID-19, and some have decided they prefer remote learning over in-person lectures. They can absorb information at their own pace and engage in discussions without time or word limits that classrooms inherently have.
These online environments can be more personable and affordable than attending school in person. Teachers and tutors can craft their lessons specifically for each student, and the student can focus on the task at hand without worrying about the costs of travel, lodging, and full-time tuition.
Technology enables students to attain a healthy school-life balance that would have been impossible with the global workforce’s increasingly high standards. Most industries require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and some internship/work experience to get an entry-level position, and technology makes those tasks more manageable.
People in their late teens and early 20s can enjoy themselves without letting schoolwork dominate their lives. Their education no longer has to be the expected four to six years. They can take as much time as necessary and choose between online and in-person classes without sacrificing their mental and physical health.
Technology has enabled everyone with a computer or phone to join discussions, which has caused curriculums to become more detailed and considerate of all viewpoints. We’re seeing a heightened sensitivity around topics like race and gender, and this new attitude stems from technology giving everyone a voice.
In old curriculum structures, one expert or moderator controlled the lesson while everyone else listened. Students could ask questions, but they didn’t have the means to find the answers without going through a higher authority. Technology has changed that. Students can challenge authority with the information they find from independent online sources, forcing educators to explain the logic behind their teachings.
Advanced technology has also allowed specific fields of study to expand. STEM programs can update their labs with new equipment. Graphic design and other computer-reliant fields have greater capabilities with more powerful computers. Economics courses have access to more accurate market data sets, allowing schools to adjust their lessons accordingly. These are just a few examples of how technology enables schools to replicate the real world.
On the path to personalizing learning, technology empowers students by giving them ownership of how they learn, making education relevant to their digital lives and preparing them for their futures. With technology and access to resources beyond classroom walls, students are inspired to become problem-solvers, critical thinkers, collaborators, and creators. Where technology has been successfully integrated into classrooms, students develop a lifelong love of learning.
Educators are always striving to personalize learning for students. Technology can help them reach new levels with access to real-time student data, longitudinal information, content, apps, and more. Technology can help educators create blended learning environments and leverage digital tools for formative and summative assessments, bringing new models for learning and teaching to classrooms.
Technology in education and the right devices in students’ hands helps prepare them with the career and technical skills they need to be successful today and in tomorrow’s workforce. Relevant learning experiences in STEAM can inspire creativity, help students apply meaning to their learning, and prepare them for future career opportunities and jobs that haven’t even been created yet. Specific skills in coding, programming, physical computing, and computational thinking have become common requirements in the workforce. Though making, students can gain these skills and hone their problem-solving and critical thinking skills for the 21st century. Learning by doing with maker mindsets and environments can be very engaging when designed and integrated with the right technology.
As technology becomes more integrated into our schools, they need a network that can provide the necessary foundation without driving up day-to-day operational and network management costs. Automation and centralized network management help IT teams roll out and update networks faster and improve end-user experiences. Implementing a network with policy-based automation simplifies network deployment and management across hundreds of devices and sites.
The structure and values of higher education have changed a lot in recent years. With technology giving more people (and thus more viewpoints) a level playing field, new attitudes, learning styles, and curriculums have emerged. These elements will continue to evolve along with technology, for better or worse. Keep up with the latest advancements to ensure you’re using the best resources available.