How Technology Is Changing Education
Technology has been making an impact on education for as long as we can remember, but mobile devices are adding a new twist to the game. Rather than simply providing students with a new device to explore, mobile platforms are changing the way that teachers teach and students learn. We’ve already seen examples of how classrooms are using mobile devices, specifically tablets. Whether it’s for special education, collaborative projects or ESL learning, tablets are transforming education as we know it.
Technology Has Changed the College Experience Once Before
Technology is nothing new for the higher education sector. Thanks to technology, a college student can complete an entire degree program online without leaving home. This has afforded more students the opportunity to enroll in college courses even if they aren’t in a position to attend a college or university full time. Other students are able to return home for breaks while taking online courses to keep them on schedule. But as much as technology has created new opportunities for students, it’s mobile devices that are actually changing the way students learn.
Up until now, whether online or in the classroom, students have primarily learned in the same way. The professor provides them with a syllabus, presents different material throughout the course and leads students in meaningful discussions. Students are then tested on the material with traditional exams (multiple choice or written) and papers. Grades are then based on attendance, performance, participation and anything else the instructor feels is important.
This traditional model of teaching and learning has its criticisms, as not all students learn in the same way. It can sometimes feel like the college classroom is tailored to the attentive student who is able to sit still, listen to the instructor, take appropriate notes and then make sense of the information on papers and tests. But for those students who are more hands on and learn through engagement, the traditional college classroom can be intimidating. That’s where mobile technology is changing education for the better.
Mobile technology makes learning adaptive. Let’s explore some of the many ways that mobile technology is already having an impact on higher education.
Learning is Interactive
Mobile apps make learning interactive and engaging. Rather than students listening to a professor do the talking, they can take part in lessons that challenge their thinking. Mobile learning apps are entertaining, so students have fun while learning. More importantly, when they have the opportunity to interact with new material, they can understand it from various perspectives just as they might have to do in the real world.
Learning is Collaborative
Thanks to mobile technology, collaborative projects have become much easier to delegate in the classroom. While students can use mobile devices to work on projects together, some instructors have taken a different approach. Google Drive, for instance, is shareable and accessible and allows for students to refine their work as well as other students’ work. This helps students learn from one another while driving meaningful discussions.
Learning is Done in Real Time
Traditionally, students who complete homework assignments and tests must wait to have their work graded. Not only can this drive a student mad, but also teachers have a lot of grading to turn in. With mobile devices, students can get feedback in real time, which has been shown to increase student performance. The feedback can be applied right away, particularly if a student clearly doesn’t understand what the assignment was about. Rather than waiting until right before a test to discover this, they can be given feedback immediately and have the time to relearn the material.
Learning is Blended
Online courses are convenient, but they don’t allow for the type of interaction that the traditional college classroom offers. That’s why “hybrid” or “blended” learning is becoming a popular alternative for college students. Hybrid learning combines both online and offline components. This way, students get the face-to-face interaction they need while also reaping the benefits of convenience and technology.
Learning is Personalized
Student success is important at all levels, but the college setting has particular importance since the costs are high. A student who is failing in her first semester of college is more likely to drop out due to frustration, whereas she probably won’t do this in her first year at high school. That’s why more schools are considering the benefits of learning analytics.
Although it’s very new, learning analytics gives instructors the capability to predict student outcomes based on certain criteria. This way, teachers can target students who may be at risk for failing, or those bound for great success. They can then tailor the material to the individual student based on these predictions. A student who is at risk can get the extra help they need to succeed, while a student destined for academic success will be challenged.
Mobile technology is being integrated into classrooms across the country and changing the way they function. While this opens up new opportunities for teaching and learning, it cannot replace some of the very basic principles of education. College students still thrive off meaningful discussions and collaborative projects. To avoid learning in an isolated environment, it’s important for colleges to balance online and offline interactions. Thankfully, mobile devices can increase two-way conversations and collaboration, giving students the best of both worlds.