“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” – Bill Gates
“Technology without teachers is useless but a teacher with technology is powerful”-BigBook.education
In this digital age, Education Technology is developing rapidly. It won’t be wrong to say that though technology will not replace teachers but teachers who use technology will replace those who do not. Empowering teachers with technology is our vision for which we exist.
Educational technology is a field of study that investigates the process of analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating the instructional environment and learning materials in order to improve teaching and learning. It is important to keep in mind that the purpose of educational technology (also referred to as instructional technology) is to improve education. We must define the goals and needs of education first and then we use all our knowledge, including technology, to design the most effective learning environment for students.
Instructional technology can also be seen as a process of solving educational problems and concerns, which might include motivation, discipline, the drop-out rate, school violence, basic skills, critical thinking, and the whole list of educational concerns. First, the problem is identified, an analysis of the factors of the problem is made, and possible solutions to the problem are presented. Then, the student population and the curriculum are analyzed. The next step is to select the most appropriate instructional strategies for the particular situation. Next, instructional materials and resources are selected that are suitable for the curriculum and the mode of instruction chosen. Finally, the program is implemented, evaluated, and revised as needed in order to meet the stated goals for school improvement.
Technology is continually changing the way we work and play, create and communicate. So it’s only natural that advancements in digital technology are also creating game-changing opportunities in the world of education.
For teachers, technology is opening up new possibilities to enrich and stimulate young minds. Today, there is growing excitement around the potential for assistive technology, virtual and augmented reality, high-tech collaboration tools, gamification, podcasting, blogging, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, personalized learning, and much more.
Here, we’ll explore some of the most promising examples of educational technology and some specific edtech tools and trends. But first let’s take a closer look at what we mean when we talk about “educational technology,” because the discussion can refer to both:
- The theory and practice of educational approaches to learning, as well as
- The technological tools that assist in the development and communication of knowledge
Educational media and tools can be used for:
- task structuring support: help with how to do a task (procedures and processes),
- access to knowledge bases (help user find information needed)
- alternate forms of knowledge representation (multiple representations of knowledge, e.g. video, audio, text, image, data)
Numerous types of physical technology are currently used: digital cameras, video cameras, interactive whiteboard tools, document cameras, electronic media, and LCD projectors. Combinations of these techniques include blogs, collaborative software, ePortfolios, and virtual classrooms.
Audio and video
Radio offers a synchronous educational vehicle while streaming audio over the internet with webcasts and podcasts can be asynchronous. Classroom microphones, often wireless, can enable learners and educators to interact more clearly.
Screencasting allows users to share their screens directly from their browser and make the video available online so that other viewers can stream the video directly. The presenter thus has the ability to show their ideas and flow of thoughts rather than simply explain them as simple text content. In combination with audio and video, the educator can mimic the one-on-one experience of the classroom. Learners have the ability to pause and rewind, to review at their own pace, something a classroom cannot always offer.
Webcams and webcasting have enabled the creation of virtual classrooms and virtual learning environments. Webcams are also being used to counter plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty that might occur in an e-learning environment.
Computers, tablets, and mobile devices
Computers and tablets enable learners and educators to access websites as well as applications. Many mobile devices support m-learning.
Mobile devices such as clickers and smartphones can be used for interactive audience response feedback. Mobile learning can provide performance support for checking the time, setting reminders, retrieving worksheets, and instruction manuals.
Computers in the classroom have been shown to increase rates of engagement and interest when computers and smart devices are utilized educationally in classrooms.
Group webpages, blogs, wikis, and Twitter allow learners and educators to post thoughts, ideas, and comments on a website in an interactive learning environment. Social networking sites are virtual communities for people interested in a particular subject to communicate by voice, chat, instant message, video conference, or blogs. The National School Boards Association found that 96% of students with online access have used social networking technologies and more than 50% talk online about schoolwork. Social networking encourages collaboration and engagement and can be a motivational tool for self-efficacy amongst students.
There are three types of whiteboards. The initial whiteboards, analogous to blackboards, date from the late 1950s. The term whiteboard is also used metaphorically to refer to virtual whiteboards in which computer software applications simulate whiteboards by allowing writing or drawing. This is a common feature of groupware for virtual meetings, collaboration, and instant messaging. Interactive whiteboards allow learners and instructors to write on the touch screen. The screen markup can be on either a blank whiteboard or any computer screen content. Depending on permission settings, this visual learning can be interactive and participatory, including writing and manipulating images on the interactive whiteboard.
A virtual learning environment (VLE), also known as a learning platform, simulates a virtual classroom or meetings by simultaneously mixing several communication technologies. Web conferencing software enables students and instructors to communicate with each other via webcam, microphone, and real-time chatting in a group setting. Participants can raise hands, answer polls, or take tests. Students can whiteboard and screencast when given rights by the instructor, who sets permission levels for text notes, microphone rights, and mouse control.
A virtual classroom provides an opportunity for students to receive direct instruction from a qualified teacher in an interactive environment. Learners can have direct and immediate access to their instructor for instant feedback and direction. The virtual classroom provides a structured schedule of classes, which can be helpful for students who may find the freedom of asynchronous learning to be overwhelming. Besides, the virtual classroom provides a social learning environment that replicates the traditional “brick and mortar” classroom. Most virtual classroom applications provide a recording feature. Each class is recorded and stored on a server, which allows for instant playback of any class over the course of the school year. This can be extremely useful for students to retrieve missed material or review concepts for an upcoming exam. Parents and auditors have the conceptual ability to monitor any classroom to ensure that they are satisfied with the education the learner is receiving.
Augmented reality (AR) provides students and teachers with the opportunity to create layers of digital information, including both virtual world and real-world elements, to interact within real-time.
AR technology plays an important role in the future of the classroom where human / AI co-orchestration takes place seamlessly. Students would switch between individual and collaborative learning dynamically, based on their own learning pace, while teachers, with the help of AR, monitor the classroom and provide necessary interventions in cases where computer systems are not yet designed to handle. In this vision, the technology’s role is to enhance, rather than replace, human teachers’ capabilities.
Learning management system
Internet-based learning management systems include Canvas, Blackboard Inc., and Moodle. These types of LMS allow educators to run a learning system partially or fully online, asynchronously or synchronously. Learning Management Systems also offers a non-linear presentation of content and curricular goals, giving students the choice of pace and order of information learned. Blackboard can be used for K-12 education, Higher Education, Business, and Government collaboration. Moodle is a free-to-download Open Source Course Management System that provides blended learning opportunities as well as platforms for distance learning courses.
Learning content management system
A learning content management system (LCMS) is software for author content (courses, reusable content objects). An LCMS may be solely dedicated to producing and publishing content that is hosted on an LMS, or it can host the content itself. The Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee (AICC) specification provides support for content that is hosted separately from the LMS.
A recent trend in LCMSs is to address this issue through crowdsourcing.
Computer-aided assessment (e-assessment) ranges from automated multiple-choice tests to more sophisticated systems. With some systems, feedback can be geared towards a student’s specific mistakes, or the computer can navigate the student through a series of questions adapting to what the student appears to have learned or not learned. Formative assessment sifts out the incorrect answers, and these questions are then explained by the teacher. The learner then practices with slight variations of the sifted out questions. The process is completed by summative assessment using a new set of questions that only cover the topics previously taught.
Training management system
A training management system or training resource management system is software designed to optimize instructor-led training management. Similar to enterprise resource planning (ERP), it is a back-office tool that aims at streamlining every aspect of the training process: planning (training plan and budget forecasting), logistics (scheduling and resource management), financials (cost tracking, profitability), reporting, and sales for-profit training providers. A training management system can be used to schedule instructors, venues, and equipment through graphical agendas, optimize resource utilization, create a training plan and track remaining budgets, generate reports and share data between different teams.
While training management systems focus on managing instructor-led training, they can complete an LMS. In this situation, an LMS will manage e-learning delivery and assessment, while a training management system will manage ILT and back-office budget planning, logistics, and reporting.