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On the face of things, the visual aspect of education—a single teacher instructing a class of students—has remained unchanged for several centuries now. But in education, as in many other fields, a revolution is brewing, encouraged by perhaps the greatest catalyst of all time—technology. Technological intervention has changed the landscape of education, making it more interactive and accessible than ever before. You might already have felt the effects of this revolution—Zoom classes, online exams, homework assignments on email—or at least seen them change how your child learns.
Ed-Tech: The Democratisation of Education
Education, until recently, was limited by physical access to learning institutions and materials. Technology has removed this limitation. Digital tools have allowed the dissemination and acquiring of knowledge to move beyond the traditional classroom, and in doing so, democratised access to education. Students of any age can access learning tools through the internet, often, on a schedule that is convenient to them. Learning materials are now available as books, podcasts, videos, on-demand courses, and presentations, allowing learners to use the medium that works best for them. Technology has thus made learning accessible to people in all places in a variety of forms that suit individual learning styles.
Increased Interaction and Collaboration
Most traditional classrooms don't put emphasis on enhancing communication, interaction, and collaboration between students in the same classroom. With modern communication tools, students can now interact with other students, experts, professors, and mentors the world over. A student sitting in India, for instance, can follow a science experiment being carried out in Europe, receiving its updates, reading the scientist’s blogs (or Tweets), emailing them questions, even live conferencing with them using tools like Zoom! This student can then share his learnings and observations not only with his own classmates, but with other students in other parts of the worlds using social media and online forums.
Technology has also empowered learners with tools that promote expansive and extensive collaboration. Learners can now easily work together using tools like Google Docs, Zoom, and messaging irrespective of their physical location.
The Role of the Teacher
In the traditional education model, the teacher took centre stage. The curriculum, classroom, and learning structure was built around the teacher. By improving access to education and facilitating large scale collaboration by way of tools like cloud-hosted documents, video conferencing, and instant messaging, technology has changed the role of the teacher from instructor to guide. Pupils are now directly responsible for their own learning, and with a plethora of digital learning tools at their disposal, they are more capable than ever before.
Access to education was once rigidly limited by age as well. Technology, by democratising access to education, has eliminated this restriction too. By allowing people to learn from wherever they are and at a pace and schedule that is convenient to them, technology has empowered everyone to become life-long learners. Online courses and tutorials are allowing people to continuously upskill, learn new things, and pick up new hobbies; they are allowing people to stay relevant.
Technology has already changed education irreversibly, but this is perhaps just the beginning. As technology advances, bringing with it better tools for interaction, communication, and collaboration, education will keep on changing -- its role expanding and borders blurring.
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