Technology in Schools: Opportunities and Challenges
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Technology in Schools: Opportunities and Challenges

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Technology, with its various applications, has rapidly revolutionized all aspects of our everyday lives. It has slowly but surely also made an impact on education and how we shape young minds. And as is always the case with technology, some schools have embraced it and while some continue to resist it for various reasons.

The Current Scenario of Technology in Schools and Education Industry

Education Industry

The traditional classroom learning method that has a teacher standing on a podium in front of rows of students is still very prevalent. However, it cannot be denied that the use of automated technological platforms is on the rise, be it in the form of virtual or online learning software or other digital resources used to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom. 

Technology is a powerful tool that is transforming education. Let’s have a look!

Making a Case for Technology in Education

Parents and educators often view technology as an optional tool that keeps children from getting any physical activity and also something that distracts them from concentrating on their studies. However, with time, moderating ‘screen time’ has become an accepted reality for most parents. Parents and even educators have begun to see the value of introducing technology in education. Let us understand,

  • Technology in schools develops deductive skills in students so that they can understand the application of concepts at the workplace.
  • Technology in the classroom makes learning fun. Boring subjects can be made more exciting with videos and even games. 
  • Technology helps students retain information better. For example, students may be more likely to remember facts and information when they put together a PowerPoint presentation on the topic than reading from a book or listening to a lecture. 
  • All students learn differently. While listening to a lecture may help some, many students may also be inclined to learn better with visual aids, case studies, and simulations. Technology gives students more choice, agency, and ownership of how they want to learn.
  • As students take more responsibility for their learning using technology to collect and retain information, the teacher’s role transforms into that of a guide- a motivational figure helping students along the way. This may do wonders for the student-teacher relationship.
  • Technology can make education more accessible, especially for students from rural backgrounds with limited resources, who are less likely to make it to the classroom than students from privileged backgrounds. If these students have access to say an online repository of classroom materials and school resources, they may be able to keep up despite of the high rate of absenteeism.

The Opportunities

As you can see, technology in education can help schools walk with the times and makes education relatable, interesting and effective. As we explore the various applications of technology in schools, there are many exciting possibilities. Let’s take a look at some of them,

  • Global Learning and Exchange Platforms: Traditional student exchange programs can be a costly proposition. Global online learning platforms bring students from all over the world closer and help them learn better. Students may also learn a foreign language from a native via video conference.  
  • Paperless Classrooms: Climate change is real. It is more important now than ever to teach students to be more conscientious and respectful of the environment. One of the ways this can be done is by eliminating unnecessary paper usage. By using emails and cloud-based apps such as Google Drive to circulate classroom materials, schools may save money and the environment.
  • Virtual Reality in the Classroom: Virtual reality is slowly permeating every aspect of our lives, and there is no reason the classroom should be left behind. There is no disputing that students will learn better when they experience real-life situations in a virtual world. It is not always possible to arrange field trips, hence augmented reality in classrooms is an asset. 
  • Data-Powered Personalized Education: Data collected on students may help teachers develop a more tailored approach to instructing and developing a student. There are various tests and assessment programs online that can help teachers determine the students’ strengths and weaknesses and help them decide what method of learning the students are likely to respond to better.
  • Self-Learning and Development: Consider this: a tool can establish the reader profile of a student and automatically suggest books, articles, and even movies and videos on topics that may interest the students.

The Challenges

As is the case with all technological applications, technology in schools brings its own set of challenges: 

Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone: This is one of the biggest challenges of technology in education. Technology may offer many benefits, but they can only be realized if people embrace them.

This often requires them to step out of their comfort zone. More often than not, teachers and school authorities are reluctant to experiment with newer methods of teaching. Also, they do not consider it to be a part of their job description.

Stigmas: Technology brings with it its own set of preconceived notions. To this day, many people do not opt for distance education programs as it feels too impersonal.

Also, it is a relatively recent phenomenon, because of which there is an absolute lack of trust in the effectiveness of online training programs. Not just students, many leading schools all over the world are yet to jump on the bandwagon to offer distance learning programs.

Cost: Purchasing and implementing technology is rarely cheap. Maintenance, upgradation, and upkeep may require more direct cost considerations and some indirect ones such as hiring resources to do all of that. Schools generally lack the funding to adopt the technology.

Conclusion

With smartphones and the internet, a new age of anytime-anywhere education is upon us. If done right, technology can support and transform the teaching process and help both the teacher and the student.

It is up to educators to make the most of the opportunities that technology in schools presents, while also being mindful of the challenges, and making education more effective. As Bill Gates said, “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.”

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in September 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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