The month of January brims with the spirit of endless possibilities. Something that seems very possible and promising in the near future is the integration of education and technology.
The Classroom Is Receiving an Update
In many ways, these changes in education are already sweeping through classrooms throughout the nations as more and more software developers and educators create products to designed with the student in mind.
Emerging technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and educational software are shaking up the philosophies, approaches, and strategies that surround the status quo of education.
These changes will not only improve the educational experience for the student, but also for the educators and administrators. Let’s take a look at how!
Personalizing Education with Technology
Out with the old, in with the new. Education has, for decades, followed a one-fits-all system. However, more and more research is debunking this philosophy—and technology is keeping up!
Technology gives educators the ability to accommodate each student’s learning style and pace individually. This case-by-case system approach is going to be a game changer in the future.
The CEO of Silicon Schools, Brian Greenberg explains, “We’re currently challenging the paradigm that all seven-year-olds are exactly the same and should be exposed to the same content. We’re starting to question what’s right for this seven-year-old versus what’s right for that seven-year-old.”
Education software such as Dreambox, a math software that is already used in many classrooms across the nation, can adapt to the skill level of each student. Therefore, the student is able to go at the pace most suited for their particular needs.
In fact, some of these technologies go even further by eliminating textbooks entirely and tackling subject matter from a tailor-made algorithm based on the needs of each individual child.
Philosophical Changes Develop Technology and Education Merge
Unlike in the past, when current educational models were developed, access to information is virtually limitless. Google, YouTube, and Quora are calling into question what students need to know in a technology-driven future.
Additionally, past education frameworks were aimed at developing the necessary skills needed to become skilled workers. However, today, with the changing economic landscape and the need for adaptability, educators are focusing on teaching students how to learn on their own.
As Greenberg explains, “The real purpose of education is for the brain to be empowered with information. We’re teaching students to learn to think, to learn to learn, and to critically assess a situation.”
This philosophical shift will be much more effective in realistically preparing students for the future they have in front of them.
Teachers are Still Incredibly Important
Robots will not replace teachers anytime soon. In fact, many of the technologies being built today are not undermine or replacing the teacher’s role, but rather empowering it.
“Technology is important, but it’s really just the means to an end,” Greenberg said. “The real magic is in giving great educators freedom and license into how school works.”
The education software that provides educators with more data about which each student’s individual progress and which students are struggling can enable educators develop further insights and take appropriate actions.
In fact, many of the education software being built today are developed with the educators in mind. DreamBox’s SVP of Learning, Tim Hudson, iterated this point: “It’s important that we listen to teachers and administrators to determine the ways technology can assist them in the classroom.”
Educators are actually not pushing back against technology. Rather, they are asking for it.
A recent study from DonorsChoose.com, a nonprofit organization that matches donors with requests from teachers, have found that teachers rank technology as their most important expenditure in the classroom. This ranks in front of school supplies and books!
Students Can Have More Autonomy
The technologies being built today allow educators to know when to step in and help or when to step back and let the students take ownership over their work.
In technology-equipped classrooms, students are able to learn in small groups with others who are matched at their skill level and pace of learning.
Greenberg said, “There’s an increasing push for students to take more ownership and have more involvement into how they learn. Creating agency in the classroom improves student’s motivations.”
With the changing philosophies about teaching students to know how to learn and the improving technologies, students are becoming more and more autonomous—preparing them for a productive future.
Artificial Intelligence Might Enter the Classrooms
The U.S. Navy is paving the way to make one-on-one tutoring sustainably scalable with artificial intelligence.
The Navy has started a system called Education Dominance in their entry-level IT school in Pensacola. The system revolves around an artificial intelligence tutoring platform, which works very similarly to a human tutor. They AI tutor monitors each student’s progress and provides individualized assessments and tests to aid them in their learning.
This system appears to have a very promising start. The Navy has reported that the students who worked with a digital tutor have consistently performed better than students who had studied without the Education Dominance system.
Perhaps this model is indicative of future education models in around 10 to 15 years. A teacher may head the entire class while individual AI tutors will be programmed to aid each individual student’s unique learning style.
We Have a Long Ways to Go
Nonetheless, technology is not a cure-all for the educators in this country.
Firstly, there is a huge disparity in the access to technology, which only increases the achievement gap between the rich and poor. In fact, 45% of teachers say their school is outfitted with technology that is too outdated to be helpful.
In affluent school, however, upgraded technology and high-speed internet connection are more common. About 39% of schools with an affluent student population have high speed internet compared with 14% of schools with a low-income student population.
Even if the playing field were leveled out, “technology is not silver bullet solution,” says Greenberg, “We have to be honest that we don’t have definitive proof one way or the other yet that technology is improving education. We are cautiously optimistic that technology is having a very bold impact.”
Technology can be an incredibly asset but only with paired with effective programs, thoughtful educators, and strong interpersonal relationships.
Nonetheless, the rapid development of many of these promising technologies prompts optimism and hope for a better future in education.