During the course of a century, we humans have come up with transcending technology. The first computer was built in the early 1940s, took up a whole room by itself. Whereas today we carry compact computers in our pockets with 1000 times more processing power. The idea of living in today’s world without technology is terrifying. Can you imagine living without technology for a single day? Without computers, phones, washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves, etc., our lives would be comparatively quite difficult. Technology has seeped into almost all aspects of our lives. We have bullet trains, airplanes for transport, rockets and satellites for exploring space, Netflix and Crunchyroll for entertainment, and various other appliances for making our lives comfortable and effortless.
The same is true for the field of education. With the addition of computers to the classrooms and the easy availability of technology to both students and professors, the education process has advanced with time. In the current situation of the pandemic, teaching would have been quite troublesome if not impossible without the availability of online platforms. Let’s examine the effects of technology on today’s education, the positive and the negative:
Benefits of Technology in Education
1. The World on your Fingertips
The internet has initiated the globalization of information. However large your school library may be, it most definitely cannot contain all the books in the world. The books that it may contain might not be the latest edition. The internet is a limitless, constantly updating library. You can have live updates of any situation going on in any corner of the world. Students can greatly benefit from the vast resources on the internet to compile and use the information for academic purposes. While students must always look for the proper credibility of such posts, many legitimate articles and research papers can be found online.
2. Online Learning
Learning courses online has never been so popular, especially so because of this pandemic. This path to education achievement has refined over the last few years due to growing demand. Online services like Google Meet, Zoom, etc. have popped up to supply this demand. Connecting students and professors over long distances, along with education software such as Canvas which provides for instructions and submission portals online, facilitates the education process. Such software provides an online classroom environment which makes it easy for both parties to accomplish their part.
3. Era of Online Exams
Major examinations conducted by national testing agencies are now being conducted online. Since it is not possible to conduct them physically. Anti-cheating software and monitoring of the examinees by administrators via webcam make the online testing environment more sterile. Having a virtual platform makes the situation of the pandemic more bearable. It removes the space and time limitations for such an interaction. Most of the things that we can do today effortlessly, won’t be possible if not for today’s technology.
4. Better Ability to meet Special Needs
In the past, the academic structure was quite inflexible. As we know, each person has their own differences which were not met by this rigid structure. Some students could function well in the environment, while others had a hard time. Online learning brings in great availability and flexibility for its students. Differently-abled students who may have physical or body impairments can now receive a higher quality of education, thanks to the world wide web. Students need not carry heavy books as they are available in digital formats. This also allows unlimited storage of information. It unlocks the potential of students to learn what they are passionate about and gives them international exposure for free.
5. Extra Skills
The internet doesn’t only provide academic learning. We can efficiently learn any new skill on the internet. With the help of millions of people sharing their work and skills on online platforms such as Skillshare, YouTube, etc. A huge amount of content is out there to learn from, even you can share a skill if you are good at it. It is insanely easy to reach other people across the world, just through your screen! All this prepares the younger generation for a technologically driven world of the future.
Drawbacks of Technology in Education
1. The Cost
Given that most of these services are free, the installation cost of the software, the hardware, and other devices is quite high. On top of this, if the teachers do not comprehend the basic structure and functioning of the provided technology, it might be abused by the students. These high-tech devices can be extremely powerful but the cost of replacing them if broken and other maintenance costs are immense. All this contributes to the increment of the cost of education.
Jeff Orlowski’s “The Social Dilemma” clearly states we have far passed the age of abundance of information to the age of misinformation. The amount of misinformation on the internet is staggering. Most of the global population who use the services of social media are ignorant of the psychological tricks they use to get them hooked. These platforms are free of charge because the users are the product. It is their attention that is being sold to the advertisers. The algorithms closely monitor your behavior online. This information is then used to match your preferences with the advertisements of the products you are most likely to buy. Spreading fake news is surprisingly easy. It is impossible to eliminate the sources of this news, as accounts are created in the blink of an eye. Misinformation gives rise to unneeded thoughts, ideas, and behaviors that can be destructive to oneself and society.
3. Cause of Distraction
Ben Parker’s words, “with great power comes great responsibility” applies perfectly to this situation as well. Given the immense benefits of modern technology, it also brings in major distractions. The availability of dopamine-inducing games, videos, and other apps makes it quite difficult for people to avoid their temptations. Today, the internet is a major source of entertainment, with all the streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchyroll, and gaming services like Steam, Epic Games, etc., are constantly nagging for our attention. That is why binge-watching and gaming addiction is a major problem, especially among the young population. Creating preventive measures for such problems is a necessity that institutions and students themselves need to put up, for their betterment.
Technology has certainly made tremendous progress in recent years. Over time, it has been integrated into our daily lives, this integration is deepening further still as the days go by. If the benefits of technology are increasing as it advances, so do its flaws and shortcomings. It is best to be aware of them and have preventive measures in place, in case it backfires. Education is a sensitive field, where even a minor change in the content and its delivery can have devastating impacts in the future. The presence of technology as a tool does have its benefits but its adverse consequences must not be overlooked.