Technology Affects Learning (Part 1)
Technology, be it in the form of the newest gadgets or the latest online sites for varied uses, has undoubtedly influenced our everyday lives, especially so in the last few decades. A society driven by technological changes inevitably needs to cater for, as well as to prepare for, a digital social, learning and professional environment. In this blog post, we examine how schools are trying their best to ensure that students are well-prepared in a technologically advanced world. Can technological tools replace humans as teachers? More important, can digital learning tools prepare students effectively for PSLE, O Level and A Level exams?
Indeed, schools are increasingly attempting to incorporate technology into classes such as through using apps to teach classes and mandating that all students utilise tablets or laptops for mobile learning. All in all, the benefits of technology for learning are tangible, from providing a trove of information for easy access to making learning more engaging. Yet, on the flipside, technology can also affect learning negatively because it could potentially morph into another platform through which students distract themselves from educational tasks at hand. Hence, the onus lies on educators and parents in order to ensure that technology is harnessed effectively to boost, not hinder, students’ learning.
Technology can affect learning positively because it results in information being at the fingertips of students, resulting in students theoretically being able to manage their own learning. This means that when students are unsure of any piece of information, they can clarify it online at their own time – be it through YouTube videos or specialised platforms dedicated to learning for school-going students such as Khan Academy. Moreover, such ‘e-learning’ platforms span a variety of different age groups and aims, from more light-hearted websites catering to toddlers to exam-oriented platforms for exam-takers.
In this context of ubiquitous availability of information, the question of whether there is still a need to learn through traditional teachers arises. Technology appears to promise that it can affect learning by ensuring that students can clarify their doubts immediately via online learning resources, rather than having to rely on traditional teachers. Moreover, because information is at the fingertips of students via devices such as their smartphones, this also means that opportunities to learn are boundless. Indeed, even by scrolling through one’s Facebook or Twitter feed, one has the opportunity to learn current affairs for a future English exam or improve one’s grasp of the language if one has subscribed to Facebook pages of newspapers.
Thus, it is evident that a network enabled by technology affects learning by pushing information to learners. The lack of access is no longer an excuse for ignorance. Hence, the educator’s role is no longer a purveyor of knowledge but a guide towards critical and analytical thinking. Technology in education has not only transformed the method but also the content of classroom teaching.
Nevertheless, simply focusing on the promise of technology for learning ignores the holistic learner. Beyond acquisition of knowledge, the social and emotional aspects of the learning process cannot be fully replaced by technology. As teachers, we attest to the fact that many students are underachieving in school and exams because they lack motivation, resilience and self-management. These gaps cannot be filled by the encyclopaedic content that the internet offers. The nurturing of the whole child still requires the touch of an educator, equipped with the most effective educational technology.
Thanks for reading our thoughts on this issue. If you are looking for educators who teach from the heart, contact us today to arrange for a trial lesson.