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Technology and education

Oct 11,2018 - Last updated at Oct 11,2018

It goes without saying that embedding technology in education is a must these days, for various reasons.

One reason is that reliance on technology reduces reliance on teachers, which enables students to take more ownership of learning and enables educational institutions to realise better the objective of student-based, as opposed to teacher-based, learning.

Another reason is freeing learning from spatial and time limitations, epitomised in traditional classrooms held according to restricted schedules and hours, and bringing learning to students in a plethora of places, spaces and times.

Through technology, students on their own, can access learning practically anytime, anywhere.

A third reason is that new generations of learners rely on technology for learning more than previous generations.

With this premise in mind, several educators refer to the current younger generation of students as digital natives, and to the current older generation of teachers as digital immigrants.

This means, according to some educators, that technology is not only an essential tool of learning for the younger generation of learners, but that early reliance on technologies such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops and computers, has shaped the way their minds learn.

A fourth reason is that the multiplication of means of learning, made possible via various technologies, makes learning richer and more fun.

There are other reasons, of course, and this is why many educational institutions, at both the lower and higher levels, have made the embedding of technology in education a prime objective.

Having said this, however, one must also make mention of some challenges, as the story is not that of total milk and honey.

One main challenge has to do with access and affordability, as many of the smart technologies are beyond the budgets of both individuals and institutions.

While some technologies are affordable, others are still very expensive.

Another challenge relates to actual use of the technologies, i.e. the embedding process itself.

Several individuals and institutions ultimately find ways to buy various learning tools and devices and are enthusiastic about using them for learning purposes. Sometimes, due to the inability to embed them correctly, they end up either using them minimally or using them symbolically.

Often, as some researchers have pointed out, technologies are ahead of teachers, and therefore it takes a lot of time for teachers to understand how to use them effectively.

Which takes us back to the idea mentioned above, that many teachers are digital immigrants.

A third, which might seem surprising to some, is that many of the current younger generations of learners are either not empowered enough technologically, or — in many proven cases — technologically illiterate.

Which means that not all of them, as has been mentioned above, are digitally native.

And there are other challenges, of course.

The overall point to stress here is that embedding technology in education is a must in today's world for the sake of learners and for the sake of improving learning. A lot of countries worldwide are ahead of us, and we need to catch up.

At the same time, we need to do the embedding correctly, preparing teachers and students, and assisting staff efficiently and correctly beforehand.

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