Learning is an everyday process that can be performed at any moment in time – but finding the right balance between technology and pedagogy can be tricky for educators. With saving the environment, high textbook demands, and engaging students all to consider, is all technology out there good technology?
In this article, we will look at 5 forms of technology that may be especially beneficial in classrooms. These ideas may widen our understanding of what it means to integrate technology with learning, and hopefully encourage a use of technology in classrooms that will benefit students and busy teachers alike.
Image retrieved from from e-books on Mackin 1
Over the years, learning methods have evolved from listening to campfire stories with the elderly to writing on considerably heavy tablets made of stone. Later, we moved to writing on animal skin which led to the invention of paper, making written material easier to carry around and learn to refer to. Now, with bags being fashionably smaller, how do we carry large textbooks to class, or make sure every student has a textbook, to begin with?
Arguably, e-books are the only answer we need as they are easily accessible and effectively drive learning in the classrooms through multimedia such as audio, video, and 3D models. These digital books can empower every student to interact with the provided information in a way that will suit their abilities while reducing the time used to search for content topics because with e-books you have the whole library beside you at any point of the day.
The uses of this technology are not limited to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects. In fact, 3D printing is capable of empowering students to become creators instead of only consumers of products. With this technology, educators provide students with material that can be observed, manipulated, and evaluated in ways that encourage students to pinpoint problems and solve them.
3D printing can thus engage students and give them a hands-on opportunity to create models that can solve real-life challenges. In this way, students can get to improve their skills and motivation in preparation for a better world of not just learning but also innovation and problem-solving.
Traditionally, learning is based on reading to remember instead of reading for understanding, especially in classrooms. This method has left many students with unanswered questions regarding what it’s like to be part of what is being studied, as might happen in a history class about World War 2, for example.
Virtual reality may be expensive, but it has an essential contribution to make as it converts learning material into a smoother, more interactive and visual representation of information. It epitomises the saying that ‘seeing is believing’, because the brain can easily remember and believe what it sees.
Virtual reality is not only about the visual images but also the higher engagement it elicits, as students can explore their abilities by practising what they have read, as we may see in cases such as virtual medical labs for student medical staff training.
A relatively cheaper form of virtual reality, holograms give life to written or recorded information through the naked eye and lighter glasses compared to those for VR. With this technology, the actual student environment is changed and filled with projections of the learning content such as dinosaurs, human body variations, or historic people. Teachers can delve into learning material in a way that will be fully understood and fascinating for students thus growing their curiosity.
From Minecraft to Fortnite, video games don’t have a good reputation due to their addictive nature, or the violent or inappropriate content they often represent. Recently, though, things have changed for the better in the digital field of merging gaming with learning.
Simulation games can develop an individual’s soft skills by putting them in situations of team gameplay, involving the exercise of critical thinking, responsibility, and comprehension strategies to name but a few affordances. These educational games allow students to engage in the created scenarios as if they were real, encouraging them to use all their reasoning skills in analysing and solving the challenges they encounter.
In conclusion, the world of learning is overdue for change as more students and teachers seek to make an impact within their surroundings. Partnering technology with learning material can help prepare students for an intensely technological world, while sharpening their soft skills so that their values and engagement with society remain positive and well developed.
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The opinions expressed in this article/publication are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of GiLE or its members.
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