Remember the days when education and practical learning was facilitated through black boards, chalks, dusters and sticks? Well, as the time progressed, the methods to facilitate the learning also changed and became more tech centric. Inclusion of technology in the teaching methods over the years has proven to be very beneficial, in terms of enhancing the visual and audio understanding of the subject matter.
There is a very popular adage that exists which talks about. “Every coin has two sides”. With the advent of technology, things have certainly become more accessible and flexible, but that also comes at a cost! In this article, we will be discussing the various aspects of technology in the classroom, which have added some tremendous benefits, along with some of its downfalls.
Technology has been a great enabler for liberating people with knowledge. During a time when paperback books used to be the primary source of knowledge, students were restricted to a uni-dimensional access of knowledge. One of the pro’s of technology in the classroom is that it has opened up multiple dimensions and perspectives to understand the same topic from the books, courtesy to the audio and video support. Some of the areas where technology has played a huge role is as follows:
1. Easier to submit the assignments and projects
Submitting the work online has its own benefits. Both the students and the teachers are subjected to less hassle when the assignments and projects are managed through an online classroom and a strong and prompt learning management system(LMS). Especially when we talk about dealing with more comprehensive subjects like psychology and communications, which involves a lot of written theory, it comes very handy.
On the other hand, for the teachers, providing real-time feedback on the assignments ensures that students understand the improvements and accordingly learn about their shortcomings. A database where all these assignments can be submitted and stored, also takes away the need to store physical copies, which consume both space and time to maintain them.
2. Managing and streamlining the content
One of the biggest advantages of having an online classroom is, streamlining the content on the learning management system. Having all the content organised and segregated as per the topics, in one place makes it very easy for the students to learn in a pattern as well as the teachers to teach. Irrespective of whether the students are looking for resources for an assignment or studying for a test, they can easily find all the material they need in one place.
3. Mass feedbacks and surveys using software
For any educational course to improve, conducting time to time feedback is crucial. Feedback ensures that the syllabus is undergoing a constant update. Technology has ensured that feedback is collected from the institutions at mass and in a much more convenient way. Moreover, feedback can be collected from the students on more specific topics, which can sometimes get very challenging when we consider the traditional paper and pen based feedback.
Conducting feedback can get very challenging, especially when conducted on mass. A software which is specifically geared to conduct feedback can ensure that feedback is conducted more regularly and is very prompt in nature. Collecting and analyzing data from the feedback also gets easier with the intervention of technology.
4. Sharing of resources amongst peers
Sharing that one set of handwritten notes amongst all the students in the classroom and across different classes was always a challenge, back in the pen and paper days! Due to the digital classroom tools available today, it has become really easy to not only share the resources amongst the students, but also to distribute some important prerequisites for the lecture, even before the class began. This makes sure that the students are aware of the topics and in coherence with the teacher during the class.
5. Environmentally sound
If there is something that has gained a lot of traction over the years, it is the environmental factor associated with using papers. Maintaining a whole database of students from batches over the years on paper resulted in a lot of paper being used, which eventually occupied a lot of space. Apart from this, the students who did not attend the class, the extra copies printed for them, were always leftover.
Now that everything has gone paperless, the use of resources for manufacturing paper has gone down by a mile and all the data is being stored digitally. This has resulted in saving a lot of effort to maintain and store the papers.
6. Increased classroom engagement
If there has been one major impact that ed-tech has had on education, this certainly has to be on top of the list. Technology has enabled a completely new dimension to classroom engagement. Teachers can not only ensure that students are responsive to their teaching techniques, but also make sure that the students are engaging well amongst each other.
Teachers can leverage the classroom dashboard to keep tabs on the activities happening in the classroom. With prompt real time feedback during the classes based on individual performances, it eventually helps to improve the class performance, on a macro level.
7. Promoting teamwork and collaboration
As we move into the future where digital will be at the forefront, it is really important that the students are well versed to work with the platform and adapt well. Group projects help the students to develop their leadership, team-working, emotional intelligence, etc. Inculcating such skills amongst the students digitally can play a crucial role in honing their professional skills.
As we discussed above about the numerous advantages that tech can bring to the classroom, there certainly is room for improvement. Here are some of the challenges faced by tech interventions in the classrooms.
1. Imperfect monitoring during exams
Learning management systems have proven to be of great aid to the teachers in managing and getting the test submitted. But, the issue that is encountered here is, there are loopholes which exist in this system. This can still be managed when students are appearing for the test from a testing centre, but when the testing happens remotely, the students often indulge in cheating their way through the exam. Such malpractice often compromises the authenticity of the exam, which results into mistrust on the examination system.
2. Leaking classroom material illegally
It takes a substantial amount of efforts for the teacher to research and curate classroom material for the students, to ensure that their understanding is easy. Many times, the materials shared by the teachers are shared illegally on websites, for generating a profit out of it. Just because some websites allow this to be facilitated, it is often wrongly understood by the students that it is wrong to do so. This often leads to discontent amongst the teachers.
3. Accessibility to laptops/tablets
In this decade, most of the students have an access to smartphones owing to the fast paced nature of technology adaptation and ed-tech. But, in order to leverage the advantages that ed-tech has to offer fully, a laptop/tablet can be of great utility. Since many students are deprived of this facility owing to the socio-economic diversity in the institution, it is not always feasible to conduct online classes.
4. Distractions misleading the students
One of the major reasons that has led to some teachers refraining from implementing tech centric methods in their classrooms is this. Students often tend to get distracted due to the advent of social media and video streaming platforms. Students often tend to sway away from the topic to be taught, leading to less productivity during the classroom sessions. Apart from this, students have been misusing the internet at a large scale.
5. Less time in the physical classroom
There is a popular adage that goes, “No technology can ever replace a motivated and a talented teacher”. Many countries have been investing billions of dollars in upgrading their ed-tech infrastructure. It has been evident that countries who do not have billions spent on a comprehensive ed-tech infrastructure, have better educational outcomes than the ones who spend! Face to face interactions play a big role in helping the student to acquire facts, apply the knowledge and deliver the results.
6. Lack of ed-tech specific training
The sudden surge in adapting ed-tech means that teachers will be required to upskill and get trained hands-on with the latest technology. In a survey conducted, nearly three quarters of the teachers said that, in their quest to adapt to the latest ed-tech and digital tools, their workload has multiplied by a factor of two. In order to leverage the tools in the best possible way, teachers need to be well versed in using these tools.
Technology has certainly added a big boost to the classroom, as it has made many complex processes at a few clicks. Despite the challenges that are faced while deploying the technology, with proper training and guidance for the teachers and more monitoring for the students, it can certainly pave a way for a better teaching facility in the classroom.
Varshini Murali is a content strategist of SchoolBasix, who researches the latest topics of what the education industry speaks about. Specializes in handling blogs that potential means of marketing and circulating across social media and holds a masters degree in marketing.