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October 17, 2017

Essays for IBPS PO VII : Use of Technology in Education

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Use of Technology in Education

Main Points to Highlight : With Internet and computers becoming more and more widespread Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is also assuming a more and more important role. The role of Internet and technology has been realized the world over and changes are being made to implement and incorporate this technology in the field of education. This essay will explore the use and the implementation of technology in education and how the use of technology has changed the equations of education. 

In 2004, Uttarakhand state government was the first Indian state to award a project to develop e-learning SCORM based modules for implementation in 1100 government schools. This was a gigantic step towards recognizing and taking steps to implement technology in the field of education. In other words, it was an attempt to modernize education by integrating the latest trends in education from the world. 

As early as in 1999, 99%- of teachers in the United States had access to a computer in their schools and 84%- had either one or more computers in their classrooms. Along with this, Internet was also being made available in almost all the schools. This made the incorporation of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) a necessity for education. 

As the developing countries are also catching up, they realized that the future of education relies on the incorporation of technology in education. Based on this, many developing countries like India and some states in Africa have taken the step to do exactly that. They are now coming up with newer and better ideas on how to integrate technology into learning environments.

The integration of technology in education depends on the teachers' instructional goals and strategies. In the early 1970's and 1980, teachers asked the students to memorize from notes and textbooks. Education was primarily teacher led and examination followed the concept of answering worksheets and questionnaires designed by teachers. The emphasis was laid on individual study and the only help that was available outside the school was from parents, siblings and friends. Technology was not used and the learning was limited to one facet only. 

During the following years, the goals of education changed. Now, education was looking at comprehensive all-round growth of the students and it needed to evolve itself to achieve that goal. This also changed the way teachers had to teach the students. They had to now be technology savvy and had to keep them,elves up-to-date with the latest. This was a direct contrast with the teachers of yester years, who needed to have only in depth knowledge of the subject being taught as well as teaching techniques. 

When the importance of all around development was realized, researches started being conducted to find ways to improve education and the method of teaching. Various studies showed that book-based learning had its faults. Students forgot memorized information or they never understood the application of the information being taught. This made education come across as extremely bookish and useless. 

Then in the 1950's came the information revolution. This changed the perspective of education. As a lot of information was available, education now needed to help students to differentiate between information and select information on the basis of need. Now, in addition to the perspective provided by the textbooks, students had access to multiple view points and thus more information. Education needs to assist students in learning how to amalgamate information, use it to resolve issues and at the same time present it to their teachers in a meaningful and effective manner. Education now also needs to assist the students so that they learn how to apply the information that they have got. The students need to learn how to connect information and use it to solve newer and more complex problems. 

A recent research was conducted on teachers with the intention of finding out which form of teaching was more useful — the traditional method or the new integrated learning method. The results of the research showed that the present integrated method is preferred by even the teachers. They feel that this method helps them to meet the demands of the students. The integrated learning system pushes the students on a path of guided self discovery. This piques the interest of the students and they tend to not only remember the information discovered, but also use it. 

The results of this research also showed that using the new integrated system even the teachers find the process of finding challenging problems for children a fun activity to do. This method of learning also helps the teachers to find new and exciting ways to teach students which proves to be an enriching and stimulating experience for both. 

Today, physical distances have no meaning. Using video conferencing, students from all over the world have access to teachers from all over the world. Students and teachers can now participate in projects that are sponsored by major researches all over the world. Video conferencing uses satellite and Internet to connect people staying in different parts of the world. An example of such video conferencing and projects based on it is that of Jason Project. Each year, this project explores a different location in order to assist the students to learn about the Earth's biological and geological development. Past projects studied deep sea-archaeology, deep ocean habitats, volcanoes and plate tectonics. 

Acquiring degrees from international universities no longer requires a student to be personally present in that university. Using the concept of virtual classrooms, students from all over the world can attend a classroom being taken in any part of the world in real-time. This has changed the entire equation of distance learning and correspondence. The concept of virtual classrooms is also beneficial for those who have personal schedules that do not allow them to attend real time classrooms. Virtual classrooms have also made interactions between student and teachers very easy. Students can leave their queries with the teachers and the teachers can answer them whenever they log in. Alternatively, both of them can log in at a pre-decided time and then interact to solve their problems. 

Teachers and students alike can now use technology to find more stimulating problems to solve and apply their knowledge to. Teachers look for problems that are relevant and appropriate for the students. Teachers look for problems that encourage sustained exploration and collaboration. The problems should have multiple interrelated parts so that the students' ability to break problems and organize their solutions is developed. Representing and communicating such complex problem situations is an important function of technology. Unlike conditions and problems that occur in the real world, technology can be used to incorporate graphics, video, animation and other tools to create problems that can be explored repeatedly and from different angles. 

An example of such a use of technology is the mathematical problem-solving series, The Adventures of Jasper Woodbury. Each problem presented in this series ends with the main character facing a problem that can be solved only by using math. The use of technology in this condition helps the students to look at the problem repeatedly to search for clues to help solve the problem. In one such problem, the students investigate a variety of transportation methods and routes to rescue a wounded bald eagle. They compare their solution plans and develop ways to determine which plan is best. 

Along with finding problems, Internet can also be used for finding educational resources and summarizing and presenting findings. Teachers are increasingly giving students at least one project each year that is based on internet research. 

With advancement in hardware and software technology, fundamental changes are expected to take place in education and the way it is integrated with technology. Wireless laptops and palmtops will give the freedom to students and teachers alike to explore their respective fields as well as find problems related to the field. This also gives the opportunity to students to collect, share and graph data on field trips and at the same time communicate their whereabouts and progress to teachers and parents. Along with this, improvement in technology has also opened new ideas of assessments. 

Though technology has a huge role in education, we are still a long way from harnessing its full potential. We need to find newer and better ideas to implement these technologies and use them judiciously.
shared by Nisheeta Mirchandani
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