The Impact of Technology on Education
A plethora of knowledge is now at the press of a button and the slide of the screen with these smartphones, tablets and laptops -just as science fiction movies had us daydreaming when we had the imaginations of children. We are more like The Jetsons but far from Star Trek capabilities of being beamed in a flash of light into outer space. We exist where learning occurs in the palms of the hand on smartphones, rather than in the roofed dens of lecture halls and classrooms where lecturers, tutors and teachers taught oversubscribed classes. We are at virtual libraries and virtual schools because the technology available to us has liberated the learning space.
With the wide array of easily accessible information on the Internet, the cable and the local networks, students are now under much more compulsion to assess the soundness of information before passing on information as knowledge. The over flux of information from the one billion users of the Internet has learners free to dispel with conventional knowledge for alternate knowledge –like naturopathy’s challenge of pharmacology- where people are beginning to experiment with leaves and assessing pills, testing both alternate and conventional knowledge to see which has sound wisdom.
Human beings have been building upon the centuries of knowledge passed down to each generation by the creation of better and better technology -the Internet is no different. This piece of technology has impacted on education to liberalize knowledge. Now at the touch of a button, press of a key or swipe of the screen, someone in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, Australia, or from just about any part of Earth can learn to do just about anything on a smartphone, laptop or tablet. There are do-it-yourself articles and videos that can be found all over the Internet. It is possible to learn to identify the nucleus of a cell or learn to knit because there are thousands of sites online and thousands of online tertiary campuses teaching people whatever is of interest to them.
The sea of knowledge on the Internet has left many confused about what things are factual. This mass use of technology has not ensured that works like Einstein’s theory of relativity, which is freely and easily accessible on sites like Gutenberg are ever seen by students. Very few students studying the theory actually read what its inventor had to say and are not truly able to understand nor critique what knowledge has been passed by Albert Einstein to our generations to come. They read critiques on the great thinkers, assume the source knowledge would be too complex for them to grasp and never take the time to leaf through the source works of Rene Descartes or Marcus Garvey. This is the same across all disciplines and knowledge becomes lost in plain sight.
The sourcing of material is a big problem for students because of the impact of technology. Students watch on the nightly news hurriedly investigated political and social matters believing the broadcast to be factual and when thoroughly investigated the half-truths turn out to be lies.
Lecturers and postgraduate markers complain that students are sourcing tertiary sources as primary sources –in other words they have mistaken the print in newspapers for that in encyclopedias. Not every article found on the Internet is a primary source to be counted as knowledge that educational disciplines are built on. An article on the benefits of molasses in treating iron deficiency anemia can either fit into an article on naturopathy or a medical journal, or both, depending on how the article is written and the authority of its sources.
Our societies have become so advanced that students are now carrying the world’s libraries in the palms of their hands because of technology. Technology has changed access to information by the interconnection of our computer networks on devices such as laptops, tablets and smart phones. Some students are propelling themselves forward because of the access to technological but some students are still too busy with the entertainment value of technology to grasp technology’s educational uses. Technology is everything. Movies and music videos have stolen the interest of teenagers by advances technology has made in cinematography Commercialization has capitalized on teenagers fascination with the television and use educational gimmickry to culture a love for the products. Technology has significantly impacted how and why we educate ourselves.
In a research conducted by Felder-Soloman Index of Learning Styles, the authors -Malgorzata S. Zywno and Judith K. Waalen- in their article, ‘The Effect of Individual Learning Styles on Student Outcomes in Technology-enabled Education’, noted that technologically assisted students with particular learning styles more than the conventional learning. The research showed that ‘[t]he largest increases in achievement were found among students with active, sensing and global learning preferences.’ Diifferent personalities and learning styles have been able to benefit from the various education techniques afforded by technology. Some persons are more auditory than visual, some need repetition for learning, some need interactive learning, et cetera, and with auditory, visual devices at their fingertips, students can choose the learning styles that suit them best.
Even toys are designed to mimic technology to teach children about life. A parent buys a toy phone or drone for their child to spur the child’s curiosity. That interest grows with the child, who in the possible future grows to love gadgets or to design a plane.
In the article ‘Changing Instructional Practice: The Impact of Technology Integration on Students, Parents, and School Personnel’ by Jennifer A. Alexiou-Ray, Elizabeth Wilson, Vivian H. Wright & Ann-Marie Peirano from the University of Alabama, the research conducted showed that 92% of students reported a positive impact in technology making the learning experience more fun and interesting.
Technology has immensely impacted on distance learning and now thousands of schools are now accessible from the comfort of the bedroom or office boardroom because distance learning is self motivated and designed around the student’s schedule. Forbes reported that e-learning was projected to earn U.S. $107 billion in 2015.
Publishing houses have also caught up to technology and have reduced the number of printed books to accommodate the growing electronic books now accessible on hand held devices. The New York Times reported that ‘e-book sales soared, up 1,260 percent between 2008 and 2010’.
Technology is impacting education in a huge way. Never before have we had such access to knowledge.