The use of technology for educational means is nothing new. A big push started around 10 years ago with the pioneering of interactive smart boards and other features that looked to bring technology into a more prominent place in the classroom.
This then continued with the use of projectors in University lecture theaters, and as technology has developed, we have started to see the use of tablet computers and smartphones become popular in educational institutions.
If we go back even further, we can start to discuss how the internet represented a huge shift in education, particularly with regards the resources that were available for learning and for furthering knowledge.
Today, both developers and online marketers find there are opportunities to be had through educational platforms that make use of technology.
Just look at a platform like the Open University in the United Kingdom, where students can log onto a system, access their course materials, interact with other students, and complete and submit their work through an easy interface.
Developers have been able to come up with various methods of learning, be it online quizzes or simple interactive revision style pages that have proved beneficial for students at all levels.
Has technological advancement really improved education, and are there drawbacks?
The World of Learning
The internet seems the logical place to start. Upon launch 24 years ago, the tagline that came with it was ‘This is for Everyone.’
While we’re not going to get into an argument over censorship in certain countries, it is impossible to say that the internet has not been beneficial to education. Okay, so sites like Wikipedia have perhaps lowered the value in some way, but then more people than you’d think probably look further for learning than just the one website!
The world wide web has definitely been a big tick in the box so far as educational benefits are concerned.
If there’s a downside to the internet, it is that there’s so much information available that it can be difficult for students who struggle with concentration or research techniques, as much as these skills can be acquired, to find what is actually valuable.
What has the role of relatively new technology been?
Tablets & Smartphones
We all know about the growing use of these products in peoples’ personal lives; however, they are also becoming a fixture in the classroom.
Not everyone is a big fan of this development; the biggest problem is that it’s quite easy to get distracted when using a tablet device. A quick look on Facebook or a short game of Angry Birds tends to turn into valuable minutes wasted.
If the downsides can be policed when in the classroom, then such products will continue to innovate for many years to come. Applications can be used for teaching – many already are, although these are accessible from desktop computers only in most cases – and the need for textbooks and other ‘hard’ learning resources will become little.
Businesses who allow employees to use their own devices at work are currently finding they are more productive; transfer this to education, and, if the distractions can be somehow eliminated, results could start to improve dramatically.
To go back to the earlier point about the volume of information online being a problem, tablets and smartphones are in some ways the perfect solution, especially if the information relevant to a particular student or lesson can simply be accessed via a website or a specific app.
The Risks Involved
While technology clearly presents many opportunities, there are barriers to be dealt with, other than those we have already explored.
Although technology usage is becoming more diverse in terms of age demographics, this is still probably going to be the biggest problem.
Teachers who are used to teaching from textbooks and parents who are technophobes, for example, will probably find it difficult to engage with a new way of teaching or helping their kids.
Developments like using power point presentations and a smart board are one thing, using a tablet device for a whole curriculum quite another.
Information security is huge on the global agenda right now, and security will need to be considered in terms of technology and education. If exams are hosted on the cloud, for example, what’s to stop people hacking in and accessing questions so they can research and sell the answers?
The answers to these concerns may well rest with companies who provide VPS hosting and cloud hosting, as well as other providers of platforms that could be used for supporting educational software and programs.
Technology and the Future
The potential benefits technology bring to education now, and can do in the future, are obvious.
There is a clear opportunity for marketing and web development professionals to work in partnership with educational institutions or technology companies, or perhaps even work together and then sell on a B2B basis, although you’d expect there would need to be some interaction with schools and universities so they can pitch products at the right level.
However, the potential distractions and risk factors will have to be addressed if the biggest impact possible is to be enjoyed.
License: Creative Commons
License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source
Robert is a technology reporter who also has a number of business interests within the industry, including running a VPS hosting company and holding investments in companies that develop technology specifically for use in education.