Today, interaction with technology forms a large part of everyday life. Children grow up accessing content on internet connected devices at home. As a result, we have noticed toddlers develop distinct British accent by watching popular preschool shows like Peppa Pig even at non-English speaking homes. There has been a huge shift in the way children learn new ideas and acquire skills. While children are exposed to technology from a very young age, integration of technology in formal education has largely been slow in most countries, including Bhutan
Technology Use vs. Technology Integration
With growing conversations around educational technology (Edtech)—“the combination of IT tools and educational practices aimed at facilitating and enhancing learning”, we are now seeing reforms in the education system. However, a huge gap still exists between sporadic use of technology by teaching staff to automate/digitize existing processes and active integration of technology to facilitate, deliver, and enhance learning. Some of the common challenges with technology integration in education today are associated with teaching staff’s proficiency in IT, the rate of innovation outpacing adoption, and the cost of technology.
The potential of the use of technology in the classroom, as we see it today, is just the tip of the iceberg. A research by the World Economic Forum estimates that “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.
Futuristic Approach to Technology Integration in Education
To integrate technology into the curriculum, it is important to start with:
Understanding the anticipated high level skills that can be cultivated with technology. A feedback loop needs to be developed between the educational institutes (at all levels), the national government, corporations, and professional and commercial service industries to ensure alignment of skills with demands of the future.
Evaluating available/possible resources that can enable technology integration. Begin by analyzing the current level of technology adoption at the institute—are staffs using technology to simplify their work or are they integrating smart devices to create a learning experience that adds value to the students’ knowledge? During the evaluation, it is equally important to analyse the teachers’ level of proficiency in the use of technology when placed in the teaching-learning environment. This can help develop a training module for the staff who will eventually bring knowledge to life for the students.
Conducting research on the tools and technology that can meet specific requirements. There are numerous tools, apps, and devices that can be leveraged to enhance learning. However, conducting a deep research on what best meets the requirements of the students with the resources at hand can help prioritize educational needs.
Integrating tools in the lesson activities. Integration does not mean using technology every day for every teaching-learning activity. Rather, it means to intentionally and strategically place tools and apps to match the tasks at hand for building deep knowledge through the integration of technology with the learning content.
Developing consistency with the integration process by giving it time. One of the crucial aspects of adoption of technology for enhancing learning is ensuring a shift in the mindset, especially of the faculty and staff. Since the technology industry is constantly evolving, it is important that those in the decision-making board showcase the willingness to embrace the constant flux of this ever-changing landscape.
Possibilities and Applications of Technology in the Education System
The Covid-19 pandemic significantly expedited what was a long time coming in the field of EdTech—be it by simply taking the classrooms online or by creating immersive simulations—across the globe. Schools and institutes have now made learning more engaging by leveraging everything that is accessible, including the use of:
Interactive whiteboards for creating contribution-driven mind maps
Social media for strengthening an interactive learning environment
Extended classroom communities for enabling global collaboration and student-to-student coaching
Chatbots for ensuring real-time response
Gamification and simulation for conducting accurate assessments
As education becomes virtual, it has not only brought some challenges, but has, at the same time, presented enormous opportunities to go beyond the status quo and tap into the potential of the virtual world. For instance, Google Cardboard brings immersive learning to the classroom with its augmented reality and virtual reality technology. Google Cardboard is not just light-weight but is also low cost, making the technology highly accessible. It now allows students to use the ARVR technology to travel to places where a school bus can’t. It has given students the opportunity to go all over the world, under the ocean, even to outer space, or inside the human body, and in that way, has the potential to broaden their learning to near unimaginable limits.