Books will soon be obsolete in the schools. It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture. Our school system will be completely changed in the next 10 years.” -Thomas Edison, 1913
Technology taking over our education system isn’t a new concept, as we can see from Thomas Edison's endearingly misguided prediction of the future.
Is Technology Doing More Harm Than Good?
Lately, technology has gotten something of a bad rap. We can all agree we need less “screen time” and more real-world learning, so can adding technology to education be useful? We believe so, but first let’s talk about what “educational technology” actually means, in this context.
The short answer: it does NOT mean the end of books (nor does it mean replacing teachers with automated machines 🤖) . In fact, between the years of 2009 and 2015, the number of independent bookstores in the U.S. shot up 35 percent. Additionally, in 2018 the number of independent bookstores in the UK went up for the first time since the advent of Amazon.
Spoiler: Education Needs Technology
So if it’s not the end of books, then what is the place of technology in education? Let's discuss that and also examine three common fears about tech and why education needs technology today more than ever.
The question is not what we can do for technology, but what technology can do for us.
What is Educational Technology
According to the American Journal of Education, educational technology is “like Joseph’s coat, a thing of many colors.” In fact, ‘Ed Tech’ is such a broad term that it can be hard to nail down just one definition. That being said, the most basic definition of educational technology refers to improving human performance by creating and managing technological processes.
So Ed Tech is an area of technology devoted to the development of educational tools. “Tools” be anything from tools in a traditional sense (like a tablet computer or a shared online binder) to applying technology to the process of learning itself, (like using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to automatically create a personal learning path based on learning style). Many disciplines are incorporated, such as psychology, sociology, philosophy, artificial intelligence, and computer science.
Now let’s examine why we need technology in education by looking at the most common fears and misconceptions about technology and how it’s changing the way we learn.
Common Fear #1: Technology is Trying to Replace Real Teachers
Once it was thought that online courses meant the end of universities, which we now now is not the case. Technology in education isn’t created as substitute, but rather as means for supporting what’s already there. This is especially true since the function of a teacher is no longer viewed as simply to transfer his or her knowledge to the students, but to help the students construct knowledge and support their personal learning process.
Imagine a class with 40 students and only one teacher (which unfortunately is the case in millions of classrooms around the world), a great teacher can probably succeed in giving personal attention to each student, but there is no way they can provide a high level of personalized learning support for every student (more on personalization later).
Suffice to say this is one example of where technology is badly needed- to take the busywork off teachers and leave them free to inspire and facilitate a learning environment.
Common fear #2: Technology Means we Use Our Minds Less
In an era of unlimited information at our fingertips, it may seem like we’re using our brains less. On the surface it looks like technology is “choking” the learning process by making it unnecessary to learn things we can just look up on our phones.
And yes, it is true that technology is rapidly eliminating the need to learn many things, and it is in fact changing our brains on a physical level. But there is no need to panic and throw our phones out the window just yet.
Experts say that even though tech is changing what we learn, that is not just a negative thing, quite the opposite in fact. Research conducted by Dr. Tracy Packiam Alloway from the University of North Florida revealed that technology has changed the reality of learning for the better.
Dr. Alloway doesn't believe that technology is making our brains lazy. “Instead of having to fill up our mental 'space' with lots of information, this space is now freed up to focus on other things. Like how to best succeed in the workplace with creative and efficient ideas using what you know!” She says.
Further evidence for this claim can be found by looking at some of the inherent characteristics of technology.
- Unlimited access to limitless resources anytime, anywhere
- Allows continuity, to keep learning even after learning ends
- No boundaries on time or space
All these features of technology are paving the way for previously unimaginable heights of learning achievement. Critical developments to our education system such as OER (Open Educational Resources) for example, could not exist without technology.
Common fear #3: More Technology = More Information Overload
We’re in a constant state of information overload from advertisers and bombarded with the demands of modern life. Using MORE technology just will add more stress to our already over-stuffed, overburdened lives, right?
While it is true that technology ushered in the era of constant stimulation (and a host of issues that go along with it), for this exact reason, we need to use technology to help us cut through the noise in a way that humans can’t. Researchers at Columbia University found that people are less likely to remember what they read online, but they could remember where they read it, supporting the idea that technology has the potential to help free up mental space for higher-level thinking.
Another example of how technology can be used to reduce information overload is personalization - look at how the advertising industry is using tech to analyze every detail of our habits and tastes. Algorithms crunch our data on a massive scale in order to give each and every person a great shopping experience every time. The dark side of this is when it is exploited and overused for commercial gain. That is we get information overload and end up “tuning out” completely.
But what if the same technology was to be applied to teaching children in our schools? Technology has the potential to give each learner what they need when they need it- all automatically, the opposite of information overload. Artificial intelligence can help us harness unlimited information into something digestible that we can actually benefit from.
How Educational Technology Can Work For You
We at Knowsome believe in lifelong learning, so we developed a smart personal assistant that will help anyone develop the habit of daily learning. We believe lifelong learning should be seamless, not distracting from your everyday activities, but enhancing them. Knowsome uses advanced technology (limitless resources anytime, anywhere) to create a personalized learning experience for everyone, distilling mountains of information into useful, easy-to-learn, micro lessons.
Apps like Knowsome are prime examples of this new era of learning- the era of continuous lifelong learning, curiosity, and taking advantage of technology to go beyond the walls of a classroom, and more importantly, to stay focused in a distracted world.
Harnessing Limitless Information
Having limitless information simply available is not the same thing as actually learning from it. If done right, we can use technology to personalize our learning experience and make better use of all the resources available to us.
To learn more about Knowsome, visit our website www.itsknowsome.com