Education has been opening doors to professional and personal growth for centuries, but not for everyone. Therefore, an increasing number of education organizations are tapping into the positive effects of technology on education, realizing that choosing the right tools and methods can be a game-changer for students that have been previously marginalized.
To get organizations ready to expand their impact next year, today’s article is all about how technology has improved education and the wealth of options available to easily make a bigger difference.
How Has Technology Improved Education?
As you review with us how technology has improved education, list down ideas your university hasn’t adopted yet, and start dreaming big about how your team can scale its impact in the next decade.
One of the first thoughts that come to mind when talking about how technology affects education is often about the almost unlimited access to knowledge. Instead of sticking to books they can physically carry, or the ones that happen to be available in nearby libraries, students have complete abundance at their fingertips with ebooks and audiobooks, giving them great options to buy and to rent, and a lot less back pain.
Of course, virtual books are just the beginning, as knowledge is available online in a variety of formats. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) enable free access to courses. Podcasts, videos and blog posts from both education organizations and other sources are a click away and cover every topic imaginable. All these options, combined with a wide range of discipline-specific tools, make it easier for education organizations to open the door to experiential learning, where students no longer need to wait for graduation in order to go beyond theory.
In addition, students gain deeper access to another important learning resource: their own peers. A key positive impact of technology on education is that it brings students together through discussion and collaboration tools, who might never have considered, or had the opportunity, to communicate or help each other offline.
Improved Teaching Operations that Encourage Collaboration, Efficiency, and Diversity
This last positive impact of technology on education is relevant for professors as well. Professors can use online collaboration tools and course management tools to organize student materials and give students feedback. This makes it easier for professors to keep track of student performance data and evaluate trends over time, in order to see what aspects of the course need to be changed.
Technology helps professors get support, too. For example, when professors find themselves facing tech challenges in the middle of a class, they can reach out to IT digitally. IT can then connect to professors’ computers remotely and solve the challenge quickly, instead of wasting half the class in an attempt to overcome it. Professors can also collaborate with fellow professors and faculty members, to ensure the department keeps moving toward its goals.
When it comes to team management, technology enables faculty members to ensure equality in opportunities. At the brink of the third decade of the 21st century, more and more diversity and inclusion software products aim to help management recruit and promote with less unconscious bias.
The Rise of Accessibility and Assistive Technology is Opening Doors to Student Populations Who Were Previously Left Behind
One cannot really talk about how technology affects education without talking about accessibility for sectors of the population that were previously left behind. This is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting positive effects of technology on education. For blind students, the technology converts slides and texts into electronic Braille, and audio recordings of classes provide another option. Similarly, video recordings of classes provide hard of hearing and deaf students with the ability to access lectures as well. In this case, closed captions are added to the video, of course. With artificial intelligence software, captions can be provided quickly and accurately. The software produces captions within seconds or in real-time, allowing students to keep up with the class. Human transcribers review the captions and edit them for deeper accuracy. This feedback is then used to train the software better about topic-specific terms and events, turning the process faster, more cost-effective and more accurate over time. Alternatively or in addition, classes can be transcribed and presented to students in text-only format. Artificial intelligence academic software is available for transcriptions as well, operating in the same way it does with captions.
Either way, the ability to access course materials in multiple formats and participate in courses via multiple channels allows both students in wheelchairs and students dealing with physical and mental illnesses to continue their education. While it’s easier to hide, many students face mental illnesses that make it challenging to get out the door, sit in packed classrooms or participate in conventional ways, even if their grades depend on them doing so. Step by step, technology helps them reach their education dreams, too.
Distance Education and E-Learning that Enable Creative Collaborations and Learning Experiences
Besides making education accessible to students dealing with disabilities, distance education and e-learning technology open the door to students who would otherwise not be able to afford higher education. Whether they can’t afford to move near their desired university, can’t afford standard tuition and textbooks, or need to work a full-time job or taking care of family members, and therefore need a more flexible schedule, technology opens the door for them too. Distance education and e-learning also make it much easier for people who have graduated with a BA or MA to continue their education, whether for professional development or simply for personal joy. But the positive effects of technology on education don’t end here. Technology enables education organizations to partner with each other, and to easily bring professors from other universities to teach their students, despite geographical distances that would otherwise require more availability from the professors and higher costs for the organization. A professor can record a class from her home in Alaska, and it will be screened in New York. Similarly, a hospital can partner with a university and bring cameras into its operation rooms, so med students and medical device engineering students could see (almost) firsthand the professional world they’re about to enter. To expand experiential learning, universities can connect students with real-life people who will be impacted by their future work, and can give them insights that a textbook can’t. When training social workers, for example, universities can host a video conference with people who have grown up in foster care but are not able to come into the classroom, to share their stories. The impact of technology on student learning, and what students take with them as they enter the workforce and shape the country’s future, is abundantly deep.
Commit to Making an Even Bigger Impact on Education in the Next Decade
Now that education organizations have seen how technology has changed education positively, it is understandable to feel hungry for more. The timing couldn’t be more perfect for universities to look for ways to expand their impact, as we enter a new decade. Bringing representatives from multiple departments together, universities can strategize goals for every department, and for the organization as a whole, and start turning it into a game plan. If all this is possible on the brink of the 21st century’s third decade, imagine where we could be in 10 years. Your university can be the leader of this transformation.