07 May 2017

Technology in Education Now vs. 50 Years Ago

Technology in all its dimensions has progressed over the past 50 years. In the education sector, the advancements that technology has made have been very timely, and the impact has been felt greatly by nearly all parties in the sector.

Education is a vital pillar of any society. Hence, it is given a lot of focus and attention. The resources that are directed to the development of education are quite enormous. Many things inspired the apparent transformation of the technology that is used in school. Various parties and stakeholders were driven to accept and implement these advancements with different objectives. But all seemed to revolve around the need to enhance the learning process. 

This article will hence consider the current technology that is in use today and will compare it with the previous technology that was in place about 50 years ago. It will explain how the changes came in gradually and who the change agents were.


Increase in Use and Demand

In the present time, there are changing perspectives on the use of technology especially among teachers. Teachers were quite reluctant back in the day to use any form of technology. They preferred the old school way of imparting knowledge to students. For example, with the case of computers, teachers are now seeing them as useful tools for learning. 50 years ago, teachers viewed computers as mere toys. They did not quite understand what all the fuss about computers was. However, when they joined the bandwagon, tables turned. They are actually the ones who are demanding for computers and software for use in their work. They are the ones demanding for scanners, copiers and even printers from their respective schools. They are even showing interest in developing websites. 



The interesting thing is that they are quite impatient. If they want a particular technology, they do not only want it, but they want it there and then. If you doubt this, just visit an educational facility and observe the reaction of a teacher who was using the printer but it somehow malfunctioned. The response of such a teacher is priceless! The teacher can go to great extents to make sure that the printer is up and running again. He/she will make frantic and desperate calls to all the people that come to mind.

Thus, technology has gained more use and more demand in the present time as compared to 50 years ago.

Increased Expertise

The teachers, lecturers and generally all instructors in the education sector have gained more knowledge over the past half-century. Most of the instructors cannot work well without technology. They have become more tech savvy. As compared to 50 years ago, being a teacher only required you to be semi-skilled. Concerning technology, such semi-killed teachers had to be profoundly convinced that computers would simplify their work. However, as time progressed, the need arose to train more highly skilled teachers who would take education to another level. This is how the number of expert teachers in the sector increased. Of course, any expert has to work in an efficient and effective way hence, as the instructors gained more expertise, the more they employed technology in their work.

Nowadays, the small talk in many teacher's circles revolves around hardware and software issues. Newsletters are being created every often, and cameras are being used every day to take photographs which would later be uploaded onto the school website. Instead of having to write memos and call parades for major announcements, teachers and the general school administration are capitalizing on communication technology such as email as a definite way of communicating.

Schools are also employing technology in the admission process. Students details are at present being logged in a database system. This database system can hold volumes of students’ records such as:
  1. Grades
  2. Personal Profiles
This database system is also used by teachers to store lesson plans and objectives. They also use it to track students’ performance over time and print students’ report cards.

Therefore, it can be said that the increase in the expertise of teachers and parties to education over the past 50 years has necessitated greater use of technology. The sentiments of technology experts are that nowadays, teachers have ceased to be beginners in technology. They have now experienced users who even share their experience and expertise to all.

Ever-Increasing Demands; Not Enough Time

Yes, over the past 50 years, it seems that people have gotten many things to do. And it always seems that people never have enough time. This is a sure real experience, and many people can relate to it. In the education sector, the same applies. All parties involved in the education sector feel that they are overwhelmed. Could it be because of the ever increasing intake of students? It could be. But whatever the reason, educationists cannot do their work without the support of technology. This is because there is more demand for their services and like humans, they all have certain limits. They cannot attend to all the students as per their demand. 50 years ago, the demand and pressure were quite minimal, and teachers could handle it well. However, at present, the demand is way above what teachers can control by themselves. Hence, technology had to be devised to enable them to cope. Activities which needed some form of technology include:
  • Planning of lessons
  • Gathering resource materials
  • Research and outlook
At least, they can meet the ever growing demand within the time limits they have. The same technology provides for outsourcing where, for example, a teacher can contract a custom writing service to provide content to later be used in the classroom. This benefits the class in that, the teacher now has more time to focus on the students!

So, In Essence, What Can We Say Are The Underlying Reasons For The Present Technological Progression In The Education Sector?


Enhancing Content

There was a need to enhance particular content. For example, if a teacher needed to reproduce content to distribute to his/her students, a photocopier or printer came in handy. Each student would get their copy. Thus, reproducing enhanced the content to reach as many people as possible.


Preservation of Content

There also arose the need to preserve content for future reference. 50 years ago, content was preserved in volumes and volumes of manuscripts and files. Most institutions had an archive where they stored these records. However, maintaining such archives was quite a cumbersome process. Hence, storage technology had to surface in the education sector. CD-ROMs, floppy disks, flash disks, memory cards all surfaced to aid in this storage. More storage technologies are being introduced such as cloud storage.


Need for Support Services

It is through education that people acquire knowledge. Thus, its support structures ought to develop to enhance it. The education sector has many parties and stakeholders. They offer a wide variety of services. There are those who offer writing services. This is especially in the area of educational books and literature which are used in the curriculum of education institutions. 

Where there’s writing, there arises a need for proofreading and editing. This has catapulted proofreading into a professional venture as compared to how it was 50 years ago. Every published book, journal, article or write-up needs to proofread to ensure that the quality is up to scale. Proofreading services have gone online with so many custom writing service providers available which anyone can access!


Content Delivery

The traditional way of content delivery was only showing up in a classroom and delivering it by word of mouth. However, such a mechanism proved to be highly ineffective. Hence, it cultivated the need for a highly efficient way of delivering content. The incorporation of the internet in education significantly revolutionized how content was being delivered in classrooms. When a teacher wants to provide a certain concept to a broad audience, he/she can do so through a click. The extent that the content will reach is the global arena.


Need To Increase the Speed of Variety of Processes

There are specific technologies that were purposely crafted to increase speed. For example, the interactive whiteboard. In the past, an instructor would have to come with packets of chalk and start writing on the blackboard. However, with the advent of the whiteboard, markers came in to ease and speed up the process. Eventually, markers were phased out by electronic interactive whiteboards in which projectors are used. Thus, the whole idea of instructors having to write on boards was removed, and a much more quick and efficient way was devised.


What Are The Positive Implications?


Better Modelling and Simulation

The use of digital simulations and digital models have had a positive impact on students. It has helped them grasp more concepts and processes that would have been otherwise hard to understand. Indeed, technology is a godsend, because otherwise how would an instructor manage to demonstrate the behavior of molecules in a classroom set up?


Global Learning

Through the internet, students can be able to experience global learning. They can virtually learn through video conferencing. Just by the mention of it, it already sounds like an amazing experience!


eBooks

Even though students and teachers alike have a peculiar preference for paper, eBooks have brought about so much ease and convenience. Even though they are hard to make, they are very comfortable and convenient to use. You could carry volumes and volumes of resource books on your laptop, tablet, or even phone. What's more, you can take them anywhere and access them everywhere.


Video for Homework

I must admit that this is one of the most exciting positive implications of technology. In the present time, students are being given videos to go and watch as homework. Instructors create tutorials and put them in video form, and later they forward them to the students. How I wish I were part of this generation that’s getting videos for homework!


Negative Implications?

However, even with these benefits, there are a few negative consequences of technology in education that are an issue of concern.

If cheating in exams was an issue 50 years ago, then it has even gotten more sophisticated with the use of technology. For example, the invention of ‘copy and paste’ has been an apparent ‘lifesaver’ for the lazy students who would just copy and paste other people’s work and posture it as their own. Besides, students are now able to cheat by use of mobile devices in the classroom. Probably, 50 years ago they used to write answers on their palms, but in present time with the online provisions of Google and the likes, they could just google answers right in the exam room.


Conclusion

All in all, the adoption of technology in education in present time should not go unassessed. A thorough evaluation must be done to ascertain if there is a success with a particular technology and what needs to be improved. Educators ought to embrace this new force of technology so that they become confident in the usage and creation of education technology. If necessary, educational institutions should make it compulsory for all instructors to be trained in educational technology.


Author's Bio:
Kevin Nelson started his career as a research analyst and has changed his sphere of activity to writing services and content marketing. Currently, Kevin works as a part-time writer at BreezeWriting. Apart from writing, he spends a lot of time reading psychology and management literature searching for the keystones of motivation ideas. Feel free to connect with him on Facebook, Twitter
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