Technology intervention in the educational sector is acknowledged by all stakeholders, but most of them still guessing what exactly it means. Some are saying that technology is taking over education and there is no important role for teachers and professors to play, others are very skeptical and do not expect essential changes. As usual, the best approach is balanced, and it also applies to the future education.
Educational systems of different levels must undergo transformation to meet educational needs of the 21st century, but this transformation is not driven by technology – it is rather supported by technology. Let’s examine what can we expect from the technology impact on education and learning and how it will affect teaching and learning approaches.
Educational environment of the 21st century – main characteristics
- Unlimited access to online resources. Time of the prescribed textbooks is gone, research is just a few clicks away, and students prefer to study using interactive and engaging resources.
- Collaboration is a basis for successful learning. It is an important engaging and motivational factor which stimulates students to perform well; it develops communication, cooperation, tolerance, and appreciation of the teamwork.
- Learning activities can happen anywhere and anytime. It allows students to study outside the classrooms and lecture halls, and the same time it can take students to the real-life environment: business organizations and manufacturing plants so that theoretical learning can be enhanced by practical skills in any area of studies. It is important to add that with the help of technology (Virtual Reality and Simulation), practical skills can be obtained outside the physical locations.
- Personalized learning. Online course material, interactivity, and gamification allow students follow their own learning plans, explore things based on the personal interests and preferences which leads to creativity, interest, and engagement.
- Learning community. It is an important feature of modern learning environment which gives students the opportunity to communicate ideas and issues across different cultures and time zones. It helps to develop personal identity, builds awareness, and a better understanding of global issues.
- Agility. New learning models are built that students have to adapt to constantly changing the environment, even classroom settings are dynamic.
Let’s see what role teachers play in this transformational period. They have very important responsibilities:
- The modern dynamic learning environment is developed and supported by educators. Educators develop new learning methodologies and develop guidelines for successful learning.
- Educators follow up with the progress of students, providing help and advice regarding learning tools, and encouraging those who are getting confused.
- Teachers are actively involved in collaboration work, projects and discussions to monitor and guide students’ work, answer questions and provide advice when needed.
- Educators’ role in the modern learning environment is changing; it turns to consultancy, advising, support, and monitoring.
Educators’ skillset is widening, it requires excellent professional knowledge, leadership, communication, negotiation, and counseling skills.
Technology is not the solution to 21st century education
As I mentioned previously, technology is a tool which can make our education effective, engaging, and content-rich. Technology can provide learning flexibility and support student’s teamwork, communication, and personal learning preferences.
The main issue with the technology is making correct investments and purchasing appropriate equipment and devices. This is not possible without thorough preliminary planning and clear understanding:
- how the technology tools will be used to support students and faculty;
- the necessity to have trained and qualified faculty who will manage the implementation of modern teaching and learning methodologies;
- importance of regular future investments in the technology to maintain modern teaching and learning approaches.
Enhancing the quality of education through the technology support
In my teaching experience, I always insisted on using technology tools which helped to develop students’ research, analytical, and critical thinking skills.
When using technology tools, during collaborative activities, students are also learning about ethical behavior, tolerance, and acceptance of constructive criticism.
I am very positive about the use of social media tools which allow sharing ideas, discuss issues and produce collective solutions. It also helps to develop students creativity and social awareness. In social media platforms, teachers can always find interesting topics for studies, analysis, and artistic interpretation.
It is hard to overestimate the role of technology in modern education if the technology tools are used to make education meaningful and relevant to the 21st century requirements. Technology tools are encouraging faculty to look for new teaching and learning methodologies which support dynamic and engaging learning
How to teach effectively Millennial generation?
The new generation of students in our classrooms and lecture halls is called Millennial generation – born around the year 2000, grown up with personal computerized devices and having quite distinctive characteristics:
- Don’t like imposed schedules;
- Don’t want to spend much time sitting in the classroom;
- Like to be in control;
- Prefer to use technology to study at any time and from anywhere;
- Enjoy project-based and flexible learning environment;
- Prefer discussions instead of Q&A session;
- Demonstrate excellent search skills;
- They are cyber-friendly people and need constant communication;
- They don’t think about the complexity of technology – they adopt it and use it.
Obviously, we can’t put these students in the traditional classroom environment and expect them to enjoy learning, be proactive, and become successful citizens. It is not working now, and this is the main reason educational systems all over the globe are facing challenges.
To engage and teach Millennial students, the curriculum must be designed to promote collaboration and learner-centered approach. The ideal course delivery method is game-based; it supports student engagement, develops analytical thinking, teamwork, multitasking, and problem-solving – the entire set of employability skills required for the 21st century job market
Technology serves as an effective tool to shape and enhance the learning environment. It does require serious investments in equipment and software tools and development of excellent technology literacy skills. These two prerequisites are mandatory to ensure that technology is used wisely to supplement modern and high-quality teaching methodologies. We have to educate and prepare the new generation of students for the future job market which will require readiness for lifelong learning, self-development, adaptability, and flexibility