Technology should not be limited to kids but instead should be used in an effective manner in order to assist learning.
In the context of today’s classrooms, it seems absurd to imagine a learning environment free of technology, especially since projectors and displays are already commonplace. Students moving up a few grades and having more flexibility are likely to use FitBits, headphones, and AirPods in class while messages are sent from under the table. It is not uncommon for students to record lectures on their laptops or phones in postsecondary lecture halls. Our reliance on technology suggests that in the future we may change the way we deliver education, despite our conventional methods of learning not yet being extinct.
The evolution of educational technology
Historically, technology has played an important role in education, particularly in Canada and the US. At the turn of the century, chalkboards were replaced with pencils, and in the years following, overhead projectors, radio broadcasting for education, ballpoint pens, photocopiers, and ballpoint pens became commonplace. During the 1940s and 1950s, schools began integrating audiovisual learning as television gained popularity. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, inexpensive, programmable calculators became widely available. In 1972, the beloved Scantron was founded.
As unemployment rates in Canada skyrocketed in the 1980s, computers were introduced into public classrooms and became clear that these devices were dominating both technology and media education. “Schoolnet,” the first program to connect 16,000 pupils to the Internet, was inaugurated in 1999. Teachers in Ontario report that students start using computers in kindergarten, with almost all schools having access to computers as of 2014.
The impact of technology on learning
Several technologies are now used by teachers for teaching, gathering resources, and communicating with students. Online learning materials and games can be accessed from anywhere, communication can be conducted via email and applications such as Remind, and online classrooms can be created with Google Classroom. Several mobile devices were distributed, including laptops, to classrooms as part of the Laptop Initiative, launched in September 2010. Tens of thousands of computers have been distributed to schools by the TDSB since then.
The use of personal devices in class is also encouraged by many schools, especially secondary schools. By doing so, students have access to presentations, interactive tools, and notes without having to rely on their schools to provide them. Many post-secondary institutions have made academic information available on the internet, which has led some to believe that blended learning (learning both in person and online) is the way of the future.
The growing use of technology in the classroom has undoubtedly increased productivity. The improvement of accessibility, the reduction of stressful and tedious tasks, and the quick connection to educators equip many children for a future of innovation. A modern approach to teaching facilitates students’ understanding and acclimation to the subject they are studying. Parents agree 86% of the time that technology in the classroom, in particular coding and programming, is crucial for the education of their children. Studies conducted by MediaSmarts in 2016 found that 79% of Canadian teachers are very positive about technology in the classroom and agree that it makes it easier for students to learn and for teachers to accommodate their preferences.
According to OECD research from 2015, “intensive” computer use is linked to worse academic results. Using interactive devices, such as iPads, for too long can cause children to become irritable, stressed, and sleep deprived. Additionally, students who possess personal devices may be more distracted and less likely to learn effectively, especially if they receive poor instruction.
Furthermore, the MediaSmarts study found that teachers faced challenges when implementing technology, due to a lack of training and outdated software. A 2018 audit by Bonnie Lysk, the Ontario Auditor General, found that schools throughout the province have varying levels of access to IT services. Different schools have varying ratios of students to computers, such as 1:1 to 8:1. Cybersecurity protocols are lacking in many schools, and instructors haven’t been trained on how to use pricey equipment such as smart boards.
Productive implementation of technology in education
Rather than limiting the amount of technology exposed to kids, the next step should be to focus on using it effectively so that learning is enhanced. OECD researchers found that students score better when they use devices to study content and apply newly acquired skills. In order to improve project-based learning, teachers can encourage students to use their phones as learning tools rather than social gadgets by taking photos of nature when studying ecosystems or using collaborative apps. Alternatively, they can conduct online tests to revise the material or offer activities that make it easier for students to remember it.
Technology, modern software, teacher training, and alternative access to the Internet are all necessary before all of this can happen. In order to improve student performance, teachers must receive clear training in the use of technology.
The importance of this discussion increases as we move towards online learning. Several months have passed since students, parents, and teachers have begun adjusting to this new environment of screens and educational content. This can be expressed through online lectures, experiments in the kitchen, or direct contact with parents of special needs children.
It has, however, been difficult for many to make this shift due to poor Internet connections, distractions at home, a lack of creche, inadequate provincial advice, and the fact that parents must assume the role of teachers as well as the fact that in-person education cannot be replaced by e-learning. Others have gained new knowledge and developed new learning habits as a result of this opportunity. A Toronto mom named Jenny Chung Mejia has compiled a list of educational apps that impart computer skills to her kids that keep them interested in learning. It is also recommended for parents to make assignments and projects based on their children’s interests, emphasizing the importance of controlling screen time for their children.
Since the role of technology in education is complicated and contentious, school boards must develop more specific strategies for the deployment of online/hybrid learning when the new school year begins. Additionally, they must incorporate the updated Ontario math curriculum requirements, including financial literacy and coding by Grade 1. However, regardless of how we proceed, we must do everything we can to promote quality education regardless of how we abandon such a significant change during the epidemic. If you want to start your career in technology, then Canada is a great place for you. Obtaining Canadian PR and getting a study permit are the best ways to start your career in technology.