Technology has a considerable influence on almost all aspects of life, and education is no exception. Learning appears unchanged in some ways, as it has been for decades. A scene of a lecture in ancient times is recognizable since it bears similarities to modern lessons. For instance, the lecturer stood at a podium while learners sat in rows and listened. Today’s classrooms are not different, although most modern students have replaced books with smartphones, tablets, or laptops. While critics would argue that technological change has done little to revolutionize education, technology has significantly improved learning through increased access to education, changing the roles of learners and instructors, and expanding opportunities for collaboration and communication.
Technology has altered learning in many ways. To begin with, it has significantly expanded education access. In ancient times, books were scarce and only the elite accessed learning opportunities. People travelled for miles to schools to learn (Selwyn 12). Currently, vast quantities of information (videos, audio, pictures, books) are accessible quickly and easily via the Internet, and formal learning opportunities are plentiful through web-based platforms such as traditional online degree programs, massive open online courses, podcasts, and more. As such, the scope of educational access today is unparalleled thanks to technology.
Furthermore, technology has expanded opportunities for collaboration and communication. Previously, classes were comparatively isolated, and teamwork was restricted to learners within the same building or class. However, technology currently supports forms of collaboration and interaction unthought-of previously (Selwyn 29). Pupils in rural classes in the US, for instance, can study the Antarctica by following the expeditions of scientific teams in the continent, read their podcasts, browse images, e-mail inquiries to researchers, and even interact with them via videoconferencing. Learners can also disclose whatever they discover to their peers who are tracking similar expeditions in other classes in other regions. Furthermore, they can work together on different tasks using online tools including Google docs and wikis. The classroom walls are thus not hindrances as technology has allowed newer forms of instruction, interaction, and collaborative work.
Moreover, technology has started changing the roles of learners and instructors. Traditionally, the tutor was the only source of information and learners were passive receivers of such information. The notion of the educator as the “sage on the stage” has been immortalized in learning, and it is still prominent today. However, due to the access to educational opportunities and information that technology enables, the role of teachers in most classrooms today has shifted to the “guide on the side” (Collins and Halverson 18). In particular, learners are taking more charge over their education by using technology to find important information. As such, educational facilities around the globe are starting to restructure their educational spaces to expand the new model of learning, encourage more interactions, and use technology as an enabler of education.
Although education has changed significantly compared to ancient times, students are not required to have special skills today that they did not possess previously. Learners are still required to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and to possess up-to-date technological skills. While technical skills are essential for students’ success in the twenty-first century, they are inadequate if students are to keep up with the job market and help the United States remain a leader in the world. In this regard, technological skills seem secondary compared to problem-solving abilities (Wagner 23). Notably, only students with problem-solving and critical-thinking skills can leverage the opportunities technology provide to change education. Overall, technology is a powerful tool that has transformed education significantly, from enabling teachers to create better learning materials to aiding better interactions among all stakeholders.
Collins, Allan, and Richard Halverson. Rethinking education in the age of technology: The digital revolution and schooling in America. Teachers College Press, 2018.
Selwyn, Neil. Education and technology: Key issues and debates. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.
Wagner, Tony. “Even our “best” schools are failing to prepare students for 21st-century careers and citizenship.” Educational Leadership, vol. 66, no. 2, 2008, pp. 20-25.