Major technological and cultural advancements are reshaping the way children receive an education. From the digital transformation ushered in by the recent global pandemic, to the various technologies that are enhancing the way children learn: there’s undeniably a shift occurring, but where’s it headed?
Understanding these changes can help you get ahead of the curve and get the most from your child’s education or to make the greatest impact as an educator. Below, we discuss some important technologies that are enhancing learning for children and review some of the recent trends in education.
Remote and hybrid learning
These concepts existed before March 2020, but now they’re terms we’re all familiar with. While the sudden shift to home-based learning was disruptive for many, it has opened the door to a lot of possibilities for young learners and accelerated an evolution that was already occurring. Various software packages and tools now enable teachers to deliver lessons to fully remote classes, which makes the physical distance between teachers and learners unproblematic. This could eliminate the need for school closures on snow days, for example, which children may not be pleased about, but it will certainly enhance their learning.
Once remote learning is perfected and students and teachers adapt to it, attentiveness and engagement could increase because students may be less likely to distract and/or be distracted by their peers. Evidence shows that some kids are performing much better than they were before remote learning. This is partly due to the increased levels of freedom children have over their own schedules thanks to time-tracking technologies and education software. Children can now study at their own pace to a certain degree, which teaches them independence, improves productivity, and may even reduce stress.
Improved engagement through technology
Another way technology is enhancing learning for children, is that it can make dull and repetitive tasks much more interesting. Children grow up surrounded by technology, and they seem to embrace it fully. Swapping the traditional pen and paper for a tablet or computer is an exciting prospect for young learners, and this can help them maintain engagement. Educational technology companies are constantly searching for new ways to apply gamification, which is the process of applying gaming experiences to activities, to education. This makes learning fun and engaging for children, and it’s only possible through technology.
Interactivity is also something that enhances engagement, as children are more likely to engage and retain information when using responsive devices. Interactive experiences can make lessons more enjoyable, and children tend to learn more effectively when they’re enjoying themselves. Getting used to technology at an early age is also a good way to set children up for a successful future as there’s no avoiding technology nowadays if you want a high-paying job. Becoming accustomed to online learning early in life is also beneficial, as organizations worldwide are enhancing learning through technology, which you can learn more about by reading Marymount University’s recent blog post.
High-quality educational content
Educators no longer need to rely on dusty old textbooks to teach children about topics. Now, teachers can select the best and most relevant content for their classes from a massive range of online educational content. Not only that, but technology enables schools to produce their own content to support the learning of children, such as interactive presentations or video demonstrations. Technology enables students to access more information than even the biggest library can provide, all accessible with just a few clicks. Teachers can use this abundance of content to make their lessons as effective as possible.
Using digital content also means that children aren’t necessarily restricted to learning within school hours. They can potentially access the learning materials before and after school, in addition to during breaks. Content from lessons, coursework and homework can all be stored in a central database using ed-tech software, meaning children can revisit old content and keep all their learning materials in a safe place. This makes studying much easier for students and saves them from having to store lots of paper documents. This kind of software also offers environmental and economic benefits thanks to a reduced reliance on paper.
Enhanced ability to assess students
Teachers can leverage modern technologies to assess students more effectively and offer tailored feedback. This can reduce workloads for teachers by enabling them to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks such as manual grading. Many ed-tech software solutions can generate instant results on tests and coursework, along with personalized feedback. This can accelerate learning, as well as give students more meaningful feedback that helps them develop their skills and knowledge. By freeing up additional time for teachers, it’s possible to enhance the development of students in other areas, such as by focusing on their communication and organization skills.
Education software and automation technologies also generate lots of useful data that teachers can use to enhance learning experiences further. Traditional grading doesn’t generate much data beyond numerical scores for particular pieces of work. Through data mining, teachers can track the progress of students with a greater level of insight and adapt to each student. This helps them bring entire classes to the same level of competency without using standardized teaching and grading methods. We know children are unique, and it’s about time that education was tailored to individuals to bring about better outcomes for every student.
Makes education more relevant to the modern world
Introducing technology into children’s lives at the earliest possible stage of their education is a great way to prepare them for a career that will almost certainly involve technology. Not only this, but their higher education may be oriented around technology, so understanding how to use it can help students get the most out of life. Many industries now rely heavily on technology, and countless professions involve the use of computers. Training students to be proficient with technology can help them transition more easily into online degree courses and eventually employment.
Virtual reality applications
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding virtual reality (VR) in recent years, and when applied to education, it can be particularly effective in enhancing learning. Many schools are adopting this technology, and some are calling it ‘the future of education’. VR can create augmented reality learning environments, meaning students can see what they’re learning about. A student could walk among the ruins of a Greek temple in history class, interact with models of the solar system in science and practice speaking to a virtual person during French class. The possibilities are far-reaching with VR.
By removing students from the mundane traditional classroom setting and immersing them in virtual environments, teachers can help students not only learn more effectively, but to love the experience of learning. Many students learn more and retain information better when they experience something first-hand, and VR can enable exactly that. It has the power to inspire children like never before, provoking imaginations and generating excitement. For the first time in modern history, children may actually be disappointed when they hear the bell ring at the end of the school day!
Improved connectivity can foster better mental health support
Mental health has always been a problem in schools, and it’s only relatively recently that society has become more aware and rightly concerned about these issues. Particularly due to the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic, children are suffering from mental health problems more than ever. Many of these problems may stem from the disruption to children’s routines, isolation, and lack of social interaction that arose from the struggle against the virus. Through technology, these problems can not only be actively addressed but if something similar were to occur in the future, these problems could be greatly minimized.
This is due to the simple fact that technology enables connectivity. If the right technological infrastructure was in place before the pandemic, the transition from school-based learning to home-based learning would have been much smoother as children could have remained in contact with teachers and with each other during this difficult time. Here and now, though, communication technology can be used to maintain contact with and offer support to the children who need it most. Technology can increase the efficiency of mental health support by making it easier, faster and cheaper to administer support where it’s needed.
Technology can facilitate better cooperation with parents
Relying on occasional school meetings to be updated on the progress of children is no longer necessary thanks to communication and collaboration software. Many of us are familiar with software packages such as Microsoft Teams since the remote working trend took off, so applying these to education shouldn’t be a problem for most institutions. Doing this would enable parents to understand their child’s performance and behavior in real-time, allowing for a continuation of what happens at school to what happens at home. Quick and easy communication between parents and teachers can have a range of benefits.
If a child misbehaves, parents can learn about this immediately and work with teachers to correct any issues. Likewise, when a child performs well, parents can reward their children and promote good behavior. Technology can close the disconnect between home and school life, creating a more stable experience for students and encouraging them to behave the same way whether at school or at home. This kind of technology is easy to set up, and with parents on board, it could dramatically improve the academic performance of children, in addition to aiding their personal development.
Removing language barriers and improving accessibility
Children that attend schools come from all kinds of backgrounds, and historically, children that spoke a different language to that of the country’s official language have been at a disadvantage. This is easily fixable through technology, as digital educational materials come in a variety of languages. One day, children from all over the world may be able to attend the same school virtually without language differences posing a problem, as technologies such as Google Translate can instantly translate speech and text.
Also, children with disabilities can access education more easily than before thanks to technology. For example, screen readers and the option to enlarge text can help visually impaired children. Technology can help to reduce inequalities that were previously impossible to address, ensuring all children have the best possible chance of succeeding in school.
The trend towards online learning
Due to children being taught through technology from an increasingly early age, many of them want to continue learning in this way and opt to enroll in online degree courses. Also, people raised using more traditional schooling methods are choosing online education for a variety of reasons, including to save time and money and to receive a more personalized education. Online learning means no relocating or traveling to and from a university campus. Students can access the best quality courses regardless of where they are in the world. Online education is also typically a more cost-effective option.
Those interested in making a change in the education sector can benefit greatly from online education, both in terms of providing it and receiving it. Receiving training through online programs can equip teachers with the information and tools they need to transmit knowledge to new generations. It shows them the power of educational technology and highlights some of the limitations of traditional teaching methods. Of course, some things will never go out of date, but technology can empower students and teachers by introducing new possibilities. It also prepares children for the modern world and gives them a great head start.