How can technological advances play a role in a student’s academic journey?
GUEST COLUMN | by Michal Borkowski
Education technology is becoming ubiquitous in the classroom as teachers and administrators implement the newest gadgets and software into everyday lessons. Whether that is an online portal for homework assignments—such as BlackBoard or Moodle—or an in-class polling tool such as Socrative, edtech is viewed as the answer to modernizing the classroom. However, the reality is that school systems still lean toward lecture-based learning.
In a society that embraces individuality and authenticity, edtech tools can only thrive when students feel connected in an authentic and organic way.
There are individual efforts to create more dynamic learning environments, but overall this system has not changed in decades. Instead of evolving this structure, we have only packed the same system full of new technology making it appear as though education is keeping in-step with technological progress, while in actuality it has not. So how can edtech actually connect with students?
Dealing with information overload
Generation Z has grown up in a digital space where everyone and everything is connected. These students were born into a world where most daily interactions are documented on at least one social platform and the Internet is quite literally in the palm of their hands. They have the ability to multi-task like never before and take in vast amounts of information. Teachers will agree that curiosity and a drive to learn is not dead, so there comes a moment when we need to connect the dots and ask how technological advances can play a role in a student’s academic journey.
How can we get students to engage with educational tools?
Students want to learn, but it’s sometimes difficult to discern if they are willingly engaging with new online tools introduced by their teachers or administrators, or if they are simply using them because they have to. Online learning platforms and study tools were created to benefit students, not burden them. In a society that embraces individuality and authenticity, edtech tools can only thrive when students feel connected in an authentic and organic way.
For administrators, adding technology into the classroom is their way of keeping up with how students are interacting in a rapidly developing digital society. But what is sometimes missed is an understanding of how students create trends and what active engagement means for them, on their terms.
The success of edtech
Teenagers rely on their peers to dictate what trends are worth following and which ones become long-lasting habits that are integrated into their daily lives. The success of edtech hinges on this point. Students need to be given a voice on what tools help them learn and study best. Only tools that stick will create better learning outcomes in the long run, and only teens themselves can decide what sticks.
Michal Borkowski is the CEO and co-founder of Brainly.
Over the past 2 decades educators have formulated and expressed a vast mass of both thoughtful understandings and uncomprehending knee jerk reactions to the presence of technology in our classrooms. These determine 2 possible directions that our schools can take with technology. Some see the new technologies as a way to finally, practically implement more authentic, relevant, and personally accessible teaching and learning. Others, though (alas) have simply digitized traditional approaches, shoehorning powerful tools and possibilities into the deeply worn wagon tracks of 19th century schooling. Technology, if properly understood, can transform our students’ experience in school so that it aligns with the new 21st century ways of thinking, learning, applying knowledge, and communicating that it was developed to support and bring about. Above all, the greatest contribution that technology can make in our classrooms is its capacity to engage students, including and especially those who would tune out the education offered them, otherwise. This is the most crucial understanding today’s educators must come to, the most crucial fork in the road they must choose.