16 March

How technology has affected education

If you have kids in school today, the chances are their classrooms look unlike those you were taught in when you were a schoolchild yourself. Where once groups of children used to huddle around single, painfully slow computers, many schools now ensure that every student has a laptop or tablet with which to work. Lesson plans have changed to take advantage of the possibilities this creates, and the results are impressive.

Keeping pace

When every child has access to a computer, it provides the children who need it with extra support, enabling them to keep pace with a coordinated overall lesson plan. Local international schools in Singapore are using this approach to teaching to help children from different educational and language backgrounds work around discrepancies in what they know and understand. It’s also helpful for children with certain types of disability, and for those who struggle with learning itself but can manage in a regular classroom if they have the necessary assistance, such as having the more difficult concepts explained in simpler terms.

Collaborative endeavor

Learning to work in a team is vital to preparing children for the workplace – and for helping them to get more out of life. Children in classrooms like this can work on different parts of a project at the same time and discover how their different pieces of work come together to create something significant and conclusive. That can also help them understand how different subjects – such as math and physics or English and history – can be combined to solve problems.

Gamification

Some children can struggle to concentrate when at school because they find the lessons boring, and teaching discipline is only part of the solution to that problem. Making education more fun means they’ll be much more likely to engage with it in the long term. Every child loves playing computer games, and some schoolwork can also be given a game element. Tasks as simple as answering questions or solving equations are much more exciting when success means getting points and on-screen rewards.

Research

With vast amounts of information almost instantly available online, the focus in schools has shifted from memorizing facts to being able to analyze and interpret them. It’s also vital that children know how to search efficiently for material and are taught how to assess the reliability of different sources. By using the internet in a supervised way in class, they can develop those skills.

Expert contributions

Because the internet makes it easy to deliver video lessons at a distance, it’s possible to bring experts into the classroom to make lessons more exciting and to give children a greater understanding of how what they’re learning fits into the wider world. Many research scientists are willing to engage with this work, so children’s TV show hosts do so, and it’s even possible to have even astronauts beaming in lessons from space. What could be cooler than that?

All these new uses of technology make education more relevant, more engaging and better suited to individual students’ potential. It’s helping to prepare children for a whole new world.

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