By Ibrahim Adam
Technology is rapidly changing the way we live and work. The field of education is no exception. In fact, during the late 1990s, new technologies were being invented and designed almost every month. Technology was the hot topic and education was the primary target for those eager researchers who wanted to see if their product could transform education as we know it (Firmin & Genesi, 2013). Thus, we have gone from traditional chalk boards, accompanied by a master class through the audiovisual media and network resources that nowadays populate our classrooms. The student, meanwhile, has passed through handwritten notes to full memos hanging on the website and having available for consulting many resources just a click away (Campo, Negro, & Núñez, 2012).But this raises a question that needs to be answered; Why is there such a strong emphasis on technology integration in education? After all, why does it matter?
Education is a sector that keeps on changing. But a paradigm shift in the education field was observed during 20th century where education is no longer defined in terms of what a teacher will teach but rather in terms of what a student will be able to demonstrate. There has been a change from an instruction paradigm, in which an instructor transfers knowledge to students, to a learning paradigm, in which a teacher’s role is that of coach. Supported by many studies for its effectiveness, (Trinidad & Ngo, 2019) the change is from passive learning to active learning where collaborative learning and project-based learning strategies are implemented (Campo, Negro, & Núñez, 2012). For effective student-centered learning and personal productivity enhancement, technology provides educators essential tools to create student-centered learning environment, promoting student learning and higher-order thinking (Samaranayake P. , 2020).
The paradigm shift in education not only changed the teaching and learning approach but it enforced expanding of the classroom and educating more children a national priority for many countries (Howard & Mozejko, 2015). Especially in higher education, the development of lifelong learning became a human right, the global democratization of knowledge and the development of the global knowledge society are considered essentials (Blessinger, Reshef, & Sengupta, 2018). As a result, learning has to be moved beyond classrooms making it boundary less to allow students residing in rural and remote areas where it is difficult to get education have the option of pursuing their studies (Chetna, 2019). To cater for this, there is no other option than to rely on technology. It is the reason why we hear virtual learning, online learning and distance education extensively.
The heart of education system is the learners. Hence, for a determined educator, it is important to be aware of the learning styles and personalities of the learners to enhance the delivery of the curriculum and the environment in which it is presented (Eubank & Pitts, 2011). It further allows both the educator and the student to improve the learning process. Generation to generation the nature of the learners also keeps changing and it becomes a challenge for educators to meet their needs (Black, 2010). Especially being “digital natives”, today’s learners are dependent upon technology, transforming the very landscape of teaching and learning (Black, 2010). They feel more comfortable to use keyboard than writing in a notebook and happier reading from computer screen than from paper. the current generation of learners who are reared on rapidly evolving technologies demonstrate decreased tolerance for lecture-style dissemination of course information (Roehl, Reddy, & Shannon, 2013), with variety and engagement without content overload. So, to keep them engaged and allow them to be active learners in a student-centered learning environment, technology needs to be integrated in the delivery. The use of modern educational technology and tools has been proven to increase learning and interactivity of current learners (Nagasubramani & Raja, 2018).
With the shift in the teaching and learning environment and change in the characteristics of today’s learners, educational technology has become a necessity to be integrated in the teaching and learning process. It matters for all level of educators from kindergarten to higher education whether face to face or online education. Educational technology today is extremely active and forever evolves to strengthen education learning to impact the learners and educators (Samaranayake, 2020). Does this mean simply putting a smartboard in classroom or taking a class via video conferencing system like Zoom will enhance student engagement and interaction resulting in increased academic achievement? As the definition of educational technology, we have to keep in mind that these are technological tools and media that assist in the communication of knowledge, and its development and exchange (Lathan, n.d.). Successful integration of technology in education does not leave pedagogy aside, instead requires a thorough analysis of curriculum and a critical examination of pedagogy. In fact, modern pedagogy demands use of technology and as a professional practitioner, the instructor is expected to have the know-how of latest technology. The failure of educational institutions in implementing technology enabled learning is mostly criticized for the continuation of improper pedagogy (Thorpe, 2012). As the saying of Bill Gates goes, “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important”
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