The concept of Education itself has undergone fundamental changes in the past twenty years or so and technology can be called the single most important reason for it.
Digital knowledge is as basic as the alphabets now and is something the netizens (generation born and brought up in the technological era) have as an innate character.
Our analysis of technology weaved into modern day education brings us to two broad questions- What technology is available and what it does? How has the digital world ushered in a better world if at all?
To begin with, let us list out and discuss three broad branches of technology required and commonly used in the education system:
- Hardware- Surprising as it may seem selecting hardware for classroom teaching is no piece of cake. It requires careful research and planning especially financial estimates as funding is a long and tiresome process in most educational institutions in India. Essentials include basic computers, visual projectors, speakers, microphones, and in case of science laboratories, voltmeters, microscopes, weighing machines and a lot more are required.
- Software- This is the part that requires professional help for digital configurations tend to be important in the long run and large scale investments should last a long time. Moreover, gone are the days when Microsoft ruled the world of Operating Systems. Today with options like iOS and android even this requires some thinking though Microsoft is still popular but frequent updates may not be cost efficient. In choosing other softwares used for documentation and virtual creations, opting for the ones with free online updates would be a good idea.
- Network- If the machine is considered a separate social entity the network would be its soul. A device without connectivity is useless and even though metropolitan educational institutions now have internet access as a rule, that does not include more than 50% of the country. Internet connectivity is still a problem India is grappling with and hopefully with recent efforts made in tying up with major digital conglomerates the country will be able to bridge this gap. With internet we have the knowledge of the world at our fingertips so it is without doubt an indispensable tool of education.
Massive developments have been made over the years in making the World Wide Web a more student friendly platform and it is imperative that the teaching organization has a well researched plan to disseminate the benefits of this age to the upcoming generation.
This is especially true for school level children who can be moulded with proper guidance to use applications and visual media to expand their horizon of knowledge and give innovative ideas for a better future.
The combination of a durable machine, reliable software and the internet thus creates the ground for a nature of study that has innumerable sources, unimaginable tools of modification and a convenient user friendly interface to give commands that the machine converts to digital signals.
What technology has done to education is an interesting topic of discussion and has a wide scope of content. To the modern student it is information at just a click as long as he has access to the required hardware and software. A technical analysis of the impact of technology on education would reveal a mixed bag of pros and cons.
What it aids:
- Helps in assimilation of concepts and ideas deeper and wider than textbook reading or classroom lectures. Media files like audio-visuals, flow-charts, presentations give an encapsulated view of the subject and will appeal to a wider student audience.
This in turn will help in wholesome classroom development as opposes to earlier when only ten in a class of fifty students paid attention and the rest turned out average on account of rote learning. This will ensure that the student will actually remember say scientific or political facts throughout his life leading to a better informed generation.
- Technological aids can cover topics faster and more efficiently. A chapter on metallurgy would take hours to memorize whereas a documentary of the process would take about half an hour. This saves the students’ time for other activities.
It will enable them to acquire a diverse variety of knowledge in enough time. Thus in a world that is churning out new information by the second the student is already being taught optimization of time and its efficient utilization to aid creative production.
- Enhances mental faculties to extract valid information and thus buttresses the child’s powers of inquisition and research. The child is now capable of interpreting information and analyzing data. Data analysis and computation then becomes an additional skill, for the student taught in technology has been doing it all the time. This in the long run will increase employability and help achieve further progress in the workspace.
- The digital world has revolutionized communications, the most public examples being social media. For students growing in this era, there is ample scope for virtual exposure and thus building up professional relationships even when they are pursuing academics.
Platforms like Facebook , Twitter, Skype, WordPress and the likes are increasingly being used by students in higher education to build their own opportunities, share make their achievements known to the world.
What it hampers:
- Memory: With the availability of information on the internet, mental storage of information is becoming less required. The web in other words serves as an extended memory. This in turn is narrowing down the ability of the human mind to remember, a not very healthy phenomenon among the younger generation.
- Composition skills are something that textbook reading and consequent writing as a practice enhances. Although devices like Kindle do encourage reading, the quality of the written word has degraded much on an average. Although this is not a major threat it still gives technological impact on education a slightly negative tint
- Social exclusivism: This is a major generation concern. The student population today is widely interconnected but has limited its interaction to the virtual world. Social media platforms are a blow on personal relationships if one limits oneself to such existence.
Having stated all aspects of digital education it is important to mention that as of today, the pros of electronic media in learning outweigh the cons and it is definitely here to stay.
Contributed by Pratyasha Ghosh