Types of educational technology
Technology has entered all areas of society, from the way in which business is managed to healthcare, labor, entertainment, and leisure. Hence, it is no wonder that technology has managed to significantly change even areas that are traditionally slow to accept changes, such as education. Thanks to technological advancements, nowadays, we have a number of different types of educational technologies that change the way in which schools approach and treat students, facilitating classroom learning.
How is technology used in education?
Schools that focus on 21st century skills take full advantage of modern technologies for the purpose of teaching and learning. Teachers can choose between different hardware and software that allow them to make their classes educational and engaging. The best schools in America use state-of-the-art software solutions that allow for advanced educational methods, such as distance learning or virtual reality-assisted lectures. This has led to the development of special methods that were not possible before, as well as to the improvement of everyday classroom teaching and learning:
- Monitoring student work in real time
- Following lectures more actively
- Facilitated communication
- Increased accessibility of teaching material
- Application of technologies used in modern business
- Facilitated work with special needs children
7 types of educational technology used in schools
Although it sounds very modern, educational technology has long been an integral part of teaching in school. As different technologies became available, they would soon find their application in education. Even the abacus was once a technological innovation which facilitated learning, just as the TV, video recorder, or the CD player were in the late 20th century. Although these technologies are still used in some schools, the computer has become the dominant multimedia teaching aid that enables the performance of various tasks.
The development of technologies used in teaching and learning enables the introduction of effective learning methods that were close to impossible just a few years ago. Thanks to that, 21st century schools are now able to implement various types of educational technology.
Since the transformation of school lessons into a format similar to video games, student interest and engagement has significantly increased. In addition to the way lessons are presented, the achievement system also plays an important role. In order to motivate students to show themselves in the best possible light, digital badges as a reward for goal fulfillment were introduced (e.g. for memorizing 10 American presidents), as well as ranking lists of best students.
By borrowing those elements that make video games fun (point scoring, team competition, designing problem-solving strategies, etc.), student interest for the lesson grows without them noticing. Although similar reward systems have existed before, the novelty is that many companies now offer software solutions that allow teachers to present learning environment in video game format.
- Learning Management Systems
The quality of distance learning greatly depends on software solutions used. Although there are many Learning Management Systems (Blackboard, Google Classroom, Moodle, etc.), all of them share the following features:
- Ability to create lessons and online courses
- Various forms of knowledge tests
- Communication with teachers and fellow students
- Ability to follow lectures live
- Monitoring individual statistical parameters of each student
This technology is not only useful for distance learning, but also in the classroom where computers are actively used in teaching and learning.
- Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
Although it is still a developing technology, its current achievements are greatly helpful in modern education. Augmented and virtual reality represent an immersive experience that allows students to visit remote locations (in geography classes), or observe the life of ancient civilizations (in history classes). This computer based learning is achieved by means of hardware accessories, such as headsets that allow the user to view the content in 360 degrees by simply moving their head. The difference between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) is primarily the fact that AR implements computer graphics in a real-world setting, while VR is a fully virtual classroom experience.
- Smart classroom
The modernization of teaching requires technically equipped classrooms. There are various technological solutions that aid teaching, and the starting point is certainly computers, tablets, projectors, and software that connects them all into a well-coordinated whole. If lectures are well-designed, there is practically no school subject that cannot be learned through multimedia lectures.
Modern science classes are unthinkable without learning about robots and their role in modern society. Creating and programming robots introduces students to the basics of programming, while at the same time helping them to develop different personal skills (teamwork, critical thinking). The complexity of content related to robotics increases with the level of education, which allows for a gradual development of skills one will need for their future professional career.
- 3D printers
Creating 3D models and their printing is applied in different areas of education. The benefits of this technology in education are multiple, because it enables students to create various objects, from art sculptures to 3D building models. This way, creativity is developed through project design. Although they may seem to be an interesting toy, 3D printers actually open up various opportunities in education, and different professions.
- Mobile devices
Nowadays, when almost every student has a mobile phone, making use of this handheld device as one of the educational options is one of the bigger challenges. Phones allow children to use modern technologies for educational purposes even outside the classroom. On the one hand, they can be a learning hub of sorts (access to e-learning platforms, chat services, webinars), while on the other, they can be used as a personal work tool.
The phone’s camera can be used to take photographs for art classes, or for identifying one’s surroundings using services such as Google Lens. Personal assistants, such as Alexa or OK Google can provide additional help in language learning, explaining unknown words, and generally revealing information and communication about the world.
Technology in the classroom is changing the way we learn
Technological advancement has enabled different approaches in learning, making it possible to combine online and traditional education. This way, students get the best possible quality of education, even when they are not physically present. However, this does not mean that online education is not extremely popular as a method in its own right. Depending on the approach to learning, distance education can be:
- Computer-supported collaborative learning– involves teamwork to master tasks, except that students are not physically present in the same classroom. This means that students from different schools, or even different countries can work on the same project together. They can use different online communication methods to share documents and communicate with each other, while the role of the teacher is primarily to supervise the process. This method of work is a great preparation for later professional challenges, where professionals from different parts of the world often collaborate on the same project.
- Synchronous learning – by using a computer or mobile device (mobile phone or tablet), it is possible to organize classes in real time without the physical presence of teachers or students. This means that students follow lectures from home or classroom, while the teacher is physically absent. In this case, the teacher maintains contact with students, answers their questions in real time, which makes this online experience very similar to traditional classroom education.
- Asynchronous learning – new technologies enable students to follow lessons whenever it suits them. This form of online learning is most often the choice of people who do not have time to attend classes due to various obligations (job, family, health condition, being in a different time zone, etc.). In that case, students have the opportunity to learn by watching pre-recorded lessons, and from audio and video material. The contact with teachers and other students is commonly achieved via email or communication apps. This method is highly practical, because, in addition to attending classes and learning, it allows taking tests and obtaining a diploma.
Distance learning is just one example of how technology can positively impact the development of education. Of course, this is not the only application of educational technology. There are many more examples where modern devices and software solutions can bring a new dimension to learning.
Technology is an integral element of modern education
There are many types of educational technology with, seemingly, infinite possibilities. However, such great progress brings certain risks that teachers and parents should be aware of. The Internet of Things and other trends have led to an unprecedented exchange of information, which may pose a certain security risk. Therefore, it is important for students to be acquainted with all the challenges of modern technologies from the outset, primarily social media. Technology should encourage partnership for the common good, but it can be abused quite easily as well.
Of course, technology is so all-present in everyday life that it is impossible to entirely avoid its influence. This also applies to education, where with a good approach, every program and device can be beneficial in multiple ways. This is why modern schools introduce educational technologies from elementary school, so that children could recognize all their benefits and challenges from an early age. This way, students are prepared for professional challenges awaiting in their future careers.