The traditional way of classroom instruction is the ‘chalk-and-talk’ method, wherein the teachers teach in front of a blackboard, speak loudly and write everything with chalk. Times have changed and so has the way classroom instruction is taught. Modern technology is now being applied to education, with innovations being used in the classroom to help educators deliver lessons more efficiently to students.
Investopedia states that education technology (EdTech) refers to the combined use of various platforms such as computers, tablets, virtual reality headsets, computer applications, the internet, Wi-Fi, and the cloud to provide an improved learning experience. Learning with EdTech can enhance student scores, improve individual skills and lessen the stress of teaching for the instructors.
How EdTech Impacts Learning
There are four key components that EdTech can greatly improve for students: constant participation, active interaction, live feedback, and associations with experts. When the use of EdTech is maximized and effectively integrated into any curriculum, students can achieve their educational goals more easily and at a much faster rate than compared to traditional teaching methods.
While there is no standard way to deliver instruction and teach students, each institution approaches education and learning differently. Bridge International Academies is an example of this. Bridge Academy Uganda makes use of mobile-friendly learning materials that students can use directly from the application WhatsApp. By doing this, they can communicate with each other, teach one another, ask questions, connect and enjoy the learning experience through technology-based education. Since these technologies can enhance engagement and comprehension, students at Bridge have even been able to enjoy more effective classroom interactions. As a result of this, two years of learning at the school are equivalent to three years elsewhere.
Another new method of learning is through an interactive whiteboard. Just like a traditional whiteboard, students and teachers can write on it via touchscreen technology. These boards are connected to a computer and they can be written on with a simple touch of a finger or pen. The interactive whiteboards may include student responses, PowerPoint presentations, and information from lessons and group activities. It makes learning fun, easy, and interactive.
How EdTech Enhances Research
Aside from enhancing the basic learning experience, EdTech is also useful in the field of research. It improves research proficiency by providing fast, accurate and updated information to help researchers better understand their subject matter, reports IGI-Global. The Africa Centre for Evidence (ACE) points out that policy-relevant research has a large and important role to play in supporting social and economic development. When research is supported by strong irrefutable facts, it has the potential to vitally impact all kinds of policies, including educational policy, and even policies on how different governments need to invest in EdTech.
In Africa, South African schools, in particular, are now ready and prepared to incorporate EdTech. President Ramaphosa stated in his 2019 State of the Nation address that computer tablets would be given out to all South African schools. He knew at the time that this new methodology of teaching children is imperative for young learners. Even if the children may not have access to computers or tablets at home, the children can still be technologically literate by equipping the school with the tools to provide children with the avenue to learn.
Although it is easy to say that governments and countries must adopt EdTech, it does not come without a cost. In order to implement EdTech, a country must have a strong infrastructure that will support and enable the use of state-of-the-art computers, reliable internet connections, remote Wi-Fi capability, and a reliable internet service provider. In addition, teachers that are giving instructions via EdTech must also go through additional training and gain the skills necessary to operate, troubleshoot, implement and integrate all of these new technologies. These are not easy tasks, and they cannot happen overnight as it requires investment and further training. Every great outcome demands great investment, especially in terms of time and effort. Fortunately, private stakeholders like Airtel Africa have partnered with UNICEF to bring EdTech to more children. Through monetary support, children in 13 countries including Chad, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia will benefit from digital resources.
Ultimately, teachers, leaders, and government officials must unanimously move in the same direction for a common goal. They must use technology as a tool to enable children to become intelligent, innovative, creative, and capable researchers. Each innovation begins with simple research, and by providing the proper avenue that will yield proficient research, the innovations of tomorrow can be easily achieved. By investing in EdTech today, we are ensuring the children of today the foundation of the great innovations of tomorrow.