Harnessing Technology for Better Learning Outcomes: Instructional tools in the New Century
Written By: The Progressive Teacher|
September 14, 2017|
The learning divide that exists today between learners who achieve the intended learning outcomes and those who do not is not new. This condition has always existed, making universal education an unachievable target. The problem continues well into the 21st century but today, thanks to technological advancements and innovations, we have at our disposal ways and means to bridge that divide to ensure qualitative education that delivers. But what is stalling us in taking remedial measures to correct historical wrongs is a lack of progressive mindset to embrace change and initiative to become futuristic.
There has to be a collective push in the direction of harnessing technology to improve learning outcomes and provide a wholesome learning experience.
The instructional tools for the new century need to be tech-enabled to reach a generation which is not just tech savvy but lives and breathes technology. Whether we like it or not this phenomenon is here to stay and is even getting more intertwined with our lives, so much so that it will become the sole prism through which the digital natives that our children are, engage with the world around them. So the essential question that every educator will have to answer and engage with is how differently they will engage with the new millenials to reach them through their preferred mode of interaction and learning to gain understanding about the fundamental life processes, their environment, life around them, their world and ultimately – themselves.
One needs to understand that life has been evolving and in this process of evolution, things only get more complex and complicated with the birth of every new generation. One can easily notice these signs of evolution in the millenials who are somehow more emotionally detached, clear about their choices and practical minded. One cannot help but see the connection between these traits and the ubiquitous use of technology that has seeped into every sphere of human activity. We can no longer ignore the omnipresent technological advancements that have come to redefine the way human communication and other forms of interaction take place today. We are aware of the disconnect this has created with the real world we live in. The virtual world of our creation seems to have eroded the authenticity of genuine individualistic self and brought in its wake a host of never before imagined complicated life situations. But we cannot wish away the all pervading technology that seems to rule our lives today. Instead we have to embrace it to harness its benefits to remain not just afloat but swim with the tide!
There are encouraging signs that show education providers are taking cognizance of the potential benefits that would accrue from integrating technology into the different aspects of curriculum transaction, assessment, school safety and administration. The ripple effect, that such initiatives taken up by progressive schools are creating, is a promising sign. In the coming five years I envisage educational technology being used extensively by teachers in delivering a personalized learning content across curriculum in order to create a level playing field for different kinds of learners (of varying ability and interest groups). Technology will come to the aid of educators in enabling them to deliver course content using different modes of engagement with the curated curriculum designed to cater to individual needs of students in a big way. Standardized testing will give way to individualized learning tracking mechanism with provisions for mapping learning outcomes based on learning domain specifications and charting the future course of action to maximize learning.
I am very positive about educational technology making inroads into curriculum transmission in every aspect of teaching-learning process: from lesson planning to assessment of learning; from teaching pedagogy to customized learning solutions; from report generation to building comprehensive student portfolio, educational technology will be harnessed greatly and will come to define the way we teach the millennials.
Having said that, I need to emphasize the fact that though integrating educational technology will foster better learning models and result in improved learning outcomes, the role of teachers in the education process cannot be undermined. Computers, however sophisticated they may be and no matter what superhuman functions they may perform, cannot replace human teachers, however limited and flawed they may be, because there are other aspects of education (value education, life skills – especially socio-emotional skills and particularly, empathy) where virtual experience will not suffice or be adequate to prepare an individual for challenges of the real world. Technology can supplement classroom teaching, making it interesting, engaging and providing a rich learning experience but it cannot effectively replace the human connect that is the most crucial element of conventional teaching.
What is required in the new century is creating an interface between conventional wisdom and emerging knowledge through technology to aid in the evolutionary process of the human mind. If and when we achieve this the teaching-learning process will be truly educational.
P Ajitha is a teaching practitioner who has been advocating for ‘liberating’ the education process to accommodate change and give true freedom that enables the teacher to create, innovate and experiment with notions of learning; a votary of teachers’ rights to empower them to become the catalysts of change in building a national force of informed men and women with sound value system and integrity of character; a staunch believer in the transformational nature of education imparted with true commitment to the larger objectives of this noble endeavour. The author presently teaches at Delhi Public School, Coimbatore and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.