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The pace of technology development just won’t slow down. In just a few short years, we’ve gone from clunky desktop machines, CD-Roms and dial-up internet, to always-on WiFi, cloud computing and smartphones that can literally run every function in our lives, all in the palm of our hands. Nowhere has this growth affected society more than in our consumer choices.
Suddenly, anything we want can usually be ours in just a few short clicks – whether we want world cuisine delivered to our doors in a half hour, groceries delivered on a weekly basis, clothes, books or electronic goods. This has created a culture of instant gratification and very short supplies of patience when it comes to our purchases. Coupled with this is the other phenomenon of our times – social media. Now we expect to connect with people globally and instantly, sharing information and opinions and receiving instant feedback. And of course these things have all had a transformative impact on both our experience of education and our expectations of it. When everything else in life has transformed at such a rapid pace, naturally learning has also been a part of this.
At times, the education system has struggled to keep pace with the new ways in which learners expect to be presented with information, but it is changing. Global institutions are finding new ways to collaborate on research projects through MOOCs, while even primary level education is achieving more with students and finding efficiencies through introducing technology into the classroom. Whatever the well-reported more nefarious side of the internet, the great gift it has brought is that access to knowledge is more freely available than had ever been dreamed possible. From tutorials on how to change the oil in your car, to courses in business administration distance learning, whatever knowledge you need in life, it’s now possible to access in a few clicks – just like ordering an Uber or an item from Amazon.
Becoming An Active Learner
Technology has empowered students of all levels and age groups to become more active learners, removing some of the traditional barriers to engagement with a subject and supporting them to problem-solve effectively on their own. Teachers find their roles transformed into instructional, facilitating roles which centre much more on a two-way dialogue and an exchange of ideas than a linear transmittance of knowledge from teacher to student. In schools, colleges and universities equipped with the right technology, seminars and lectures have been enhanced and are now interaction sessions, where students and teacher both participate, and teaching methods are updated and refined in an agile manner, in a continuous feedback loop. Traditional lectures have become enhanced with demonstrations, video, infographics and more engaging media that can make the impact of a subject more immediately felt.
Taking Online Classes
One of the most important ways in which education is becoming more accessible is through the rise in online classes which are now available. From traditionally marginalised groups whose access to quality education has historically been limited, through to mature students who may be tied to location by family and work commitments but who would like to study and become more qualified, it’s now no longer a prerequisite to be physically located where you’d like to study. Students can pursue all manner of courses and degrees using a laptop or a smartphone to access lectures, create notes, study and sit assessments. The advantage of this is that learning is conducted at the student’s own pace, and can easily fit around the other commitments they may have. They can connect with other students and with teachers easily using social channels as well. The physical location of the student is no longer a factor, so that those searching for an online mba degree for german students are just as likely to find it as are Japanese students looking to learn English as a foreign language. High knowledge value can be obtained easily and with minimal cost, so it’s easy to see why online learning courses are a huge growth area within the education sector.
Finding Educational Resources Online
With search engine algorithms being so advanced, it’s very easy for a keen student to access text, papers, media and various other digital assets that can help to guide their studies. Not only concerning subject matter, but resources which can support with study skills themselves and the application of knowledge can be found via websites, blogs and applications to sit alongside classroom based learning or distance learning courses.These easily accessible resources can be applied by both students and teachers to find out more about a given subject, provide a framework for how to study it, strengthen ideas and concepts, work out and collaborate on problems, and even to conduct real-world research.
Making Study Personal
Another great gift of technology is the ability it has to provide highly personalised study support to individual learners. Everyone has a different learning styles, and understanding how to get the best by adapting to yours is key to a successful learning experience. Technology gives us the chance to tailor our own study materials, and seek extra support with assignments or projects to boost our academic performance. Online tutoring and peer-to-peer learning can be invaluable to get to grips with a tough subject. Voicing doubts, asking questions and seeking a solution is so much easier when all learners and their tutors are connected seamlessly via instant messaging platforms and other technologies. This enhanced learning no longer requires physical travel to a particular institution or staying behind after class. Which, crucially, means that it’s far more accessible for a lot more people.
The Rise Of Streaming
Streaming services have transformed the way that we consume media in our leisure time – from binge-watching the latest Netflix thriller to make gaming a globally collaborative experience. And these developments are also profoundly affecting the ways in which learning is disseminated as well. Institutions are embracing video streaming as an extremely effective way to deliver ideas and knowledge to students on a global scale. New tools for webinars and collaborative online learning have made these a viable alternative to the traditional classroom experience, and video technologies allow teachers to interact with their audience in real time. The possibilities for students to ask questions, discuss and receive feedback in real time are now very much there and highly accessible. This makes the quality of the learning experience amenable to both fee-paying students and education professionals themselves.