At this time in our lives, technology and innovation have seemed to take the reins on many aspects of our day-to-day habits. It is alive, and it is growing all around us. This trend has dominated the business world, where nearly any task can be automated – we even see technology, like smartphones, overgrowing our personal lives – in fact, I bet a fairly large percentage of you are staring at your smartphone reading this.
Yet, there is one world that is yearning to be overtaken by technology’s uproar – the education world.
A recently study conducted by DJS Research, and published by Unit4, has shown that eight out of every ten students would find it useful to have access to a mobile application that would allow them to see the current progress of their degree. Furthermore, 41% of the study’s participants stated they would be more willing to recommend their university if their digital interaction was better.
What is the Cause of This Trend?
Today, the education world’s student body is significantly populated by Millennial and Generation Zer’s. As we know, individuals in this age group are borderline addicted to technology. Smartphones, laptops, and tablets are some of these generations’ most-used devices. These are what students use to learn new information and communicate amongst one another. Yet, the education world has not kept up with this trend. This not only causes a lack of focus in the classroom, but it can cause a student to fall victim to the growing skills gap issue that is running between the education and working worlds.
How Can the Education World Work With This Trend?
The education world needs to listen to their students’ voices. In fact, many students have shared their thoughts on exactly what they want from their education system.
“Tap My Creativity. When a homework assignment involves art, is open-ended, and depends more on my creativity than on what I learn in class, it’s easy for me to get lost in it, as I would in a good book. For instance, designing a poster based on lab safety didn’t teach me every single guideline, but it did help me grasp the basic idea. When I have to write a poem or draw a picture, there are fewer rules and more room for creativity, and I feel a great sense of satisfaction when I’m done.”
—Susie Lui, grade 9, Arlington, Virginia
“Build on My Interests. Mrs. Gaies, my teacher, is awesome. One time I told her that Monticello was on the back of the nickel and that it was Thomas Jefferson’s house. She made a real book for me. It had all sorts of pictures of other cool buildings. I was able to write sentences about all of them. That was a lot of fun because I like to learn about new things. There were some buildings that I didn’t know, but I was able to read about them and write new sentences of information. She makes me interested in learning so much more.”
—Samuel Lockhart (as told to mom), kindergarten, Denver, Iowa
“Let Me Do It My Way. The first time I felt in charge of my own learning was when I made my first film for Communications Technology class in grade 10. I got to help develop a script and direct, film, and produce my own movie on my own terms. I love telling stories, and I learned how to bring them to life on film. The teachers provided the needed equipment and instructions, gave us some encouraging words, and sent us on our way. Sure, I had times when I needed help, but other than that I was in charge of learning how to become a better video producer.
The satisfaction I got from viewing my first film exceeded that of passing a test or writing a good essay, because, as Frank Sinatra sings, “I did it my way.” My teachers stepped back and let me learn for myself instead of holding my hand all the time. Because I was given the chance to learn how to be independent in my learning, the remaining three years of my high school career went smoothly. I made movies for courses outside of Com Tech, such as science, civics, English, Spanish, drama, and art. In the future I will not be afraid to be in charge of my own learning.”
—Olivia Vidal, grade 12, Oakville, Ontario
There are even a number of education professionals chiming in on the topic of technological implementation within the education world:
“There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.”
Nancy Kassebaum, Senator, Kansas
“The Royal College of Music is one of the world leaders in music education. Our talented students are digital natives and, using the right technology, we can interact with them on their terms so that managing their studies is more enriched, convenient and simpler.”
Elly Taylor, Academic Registrar, Royal College of Music
“Not all U.S. colleges and universities will disappear as a result of new technologies, but clearly some will. If higher education institutions embrace the status quo, they will no longer be in control of their own fate. To survive, they must change their existing business models.”
Henry C. Lucas, Strategic Information Systems Instructor, University of Maryland
While each and every student and education professional’s story will differ, it is safe to say that today’s generation of students share a much different way of thinking than any previous generation – and this needs to be taken seriously. It is vital for the education system to know and understand how to implement today’s technologies, in order to cater to the way students are taking in information.
This can be done through the use of “gamifying” the classroom’s curriculum, utilizing interactive learning websites, or challenging the classroom to manage a collaborative blog based on their learnings.
Of course, there are many opportunities for the education world to implement today’s technologies – all students ask is that they try.