How Technology is Shaping Student Learning: Pros and Cons

technology

Historically, education has been offering a comprehensive package of key practical and soft skills, the ability to critically think, as well as build connections with other people. A teacher was a central figure in the classroom, a cluster of unique valuable information, a sort of a mini-encyclopedia. Any other sources were rare and difficult to derive, if not unattainable at all.  

But the world has changed. 

Nowadays, students receive new knowledge and obtain skills with breathtaking speed. In fact, they simply can’t afford to slow down. Otherwise, they risk being in no demand among modern employers, or the society in general. 

Before, the hardest effort was to find the information you needed. Today, learning is more about telling a piece of gold from garbage, about excellent time management skills and a balance between consuming knowledge and finding a way to have a proper relaxation. You can become a latent doctor or a successful engineer – only your imagination and discipline define your future.

But let’s look closer into how technology shapes modern education.

A teacher is gradually backing down as a knowledge keeper. This honor has been handed over to You-Tube, digital libraries and various thematic social media groups and communities. The teachers won their grounds as coaches and guides though. Presently, their role is not to convey a full set of knowledge but to teach to ask good questions, search and find the truth, conduct individual research and prove the point. A modern teacher engages the class into a discussion and places stakes on how to improve their communication skills and tame modern tech for their own benefit rather than involving students into boring procedures of cramming and making notes.

Long-term educational courses are doomed to fall into oblivion. Although life-long learning is the route we can’t outflank, studying for years to learn a craft proved ineffective in the present era. Information doubles every several hours, experts insist. If you want to be successful in your career, you should be a quick learner as a student. Tutors and mentors work their best to produce the educational material in a concise and easy-to-grasp manner. Now, students receive essential skills or boost their already existing knowledge in various fields by simply going online. 

Small operations that had taken plenty of time in the past were replaced by AI-powered technologies able to perform various operations in as fast as a few seconds. We don’t go to the library to get a book; we simply download it from the internet. We don’t have to waste days to send and receive files; we just do it through Gmail or any kind of messenger in as little as a blink of an eye. The suddenly vacant time students can use for polishing their skills instead. 

Asking an expert or joining the club of other geeks has never been so easy before. Social networks create thousands and millions of members’ communities with different experiences and possessing various pieces of information to collect. In addition, they encourage students to debate, pick the best arguments and question everything in search of the verity. 

Social networks cultivate creativity. A large space with a multimillion audience has become available to appreciate your photography, image processing, writing or teaching skills. 

The boundaries between countries continue to trail off allowing students to immerse themselves into foreign cultures and languages instead of being isolated in their learning. As well as familiarize themselves with the original books, publications and articles. Speaking 4 or more languages is becoming a norm now. “I was doing research and I needed badly a dissertation proposal writing help. I could have done it on my own but one of the sources was in German. And I didn’t speak German whatsoever. My writing assistant spoke 6 languages, which he learned never having been abroad”, shares Benjamin Gesserit, a University of Arkansas student. 

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At the same time, such a level of freedom and informational affluence imposes a great deal of responsibility. Multitasking is one of the problems that students face in a world full of technological innovations. Ads and news flickering from the corners of the screen, constant switching from one device to another, or what’s even worse, trying to do several tasks at once distract attention and make it impossible to be present in the learning process. Continuous shifts of the focus devour our time and overload the brain, say nothing that such learning makes no visible difference except disappointment. 

Scientists agree that modern devices affect heavily our ability to think, memorize things and regulate emotions. Our smartphone remembers everything: it stores all the necessary information about our contacts, our insights, books, purchase lists, whatnot. The world encourages us to stop memorizing things – Google knows everything. Despite lots of advantages the social media offer, they are the main source of depression among students. The communication they are aimed to support, often never crosses the online zone leaving young people completely unprepared and afraid of the conversation with real people. 

However, it would be short-minded to deny a huge positive impact of technology on education. The tech itself is neither good nor bad – it’s neutral. The way we use technology, however, is not. It is critical that students learn to harness ed-tech for their advantage. Setting clear goals, choosing in favor of a few studying resources instead of all available, as well as sticking to a strict plan will help to develop a good level of discipline and stay motivated and productive in the long run. 

Finding a balance between learning and resting is crucial too. Our brain requires time to process new information and move it to long-term memory, and it can be possible only when the informational flow stops. 

And the last, but not the least! Technology has made learning easier but it doesn’t mean that we don’t need a simple pen and a sheet of paper anymore. Mobility and easy access to the information that gives technology work much better combined with analog resources.

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