The Impact of increased Technology on Higher Education

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For many years universities and colleges have been experimenting with different kinds of technological innovations to pass information to the students. Some of them include the use of personal computers and most famous blackboard that is common in traditional classrooms. While some of the technologies are still used, some have been replaced by more sophisticated and cost effective forms of technology. However towards the end of the 20th century, higher education experienced an exponential growth in terms of use of technology [1] . Different instructional technologies are now being used with resources like course web pages, internet and computer simulations.

Technology has totally revolutionized learning and teaching processes especially in the developed countries the United States. There is absolutely no aspect of higher learning that has not yet been affected by the increase in technology: from administration to instructional processes. However, as much as it might have improved the delivery of education to the students, there are much important interpersonal aspects between students and educators and amongst students that have been eroded. This essay is going to address ways in which the delivery of education has been improved and also touch on the lack of interpersonal relation that technology has created.

Technology has eliminated the barriers of time and space that existed during the traditional classroom kind of learning. Students from all over the world can now attend the same class regardless of their geographical location. This has made it easier for anyone to attain college or university education from the institution of his choice without worrying of how to reach the location of the institution. With the increased use of technologies such as email and course web pages, students can now read lecture notes from lecturers, take and submit assignments in time [2] . In addition, they do not have to keep meeting instructors at a central place for them to learn. The use of resident halls and classrooms is slowly being dealt away with thanks to technology.

In the current time when the first degree is not as recognized as it used to be before, people prefer going with studies for as long as they live [3] . Getting a job cannot stop one from going to school. With the help of technology, people can go to work during the day and still find time to attend to their course work. This ensures that even the already employed can still advance their education to greater heights. The hustle of rushing from work to college or university has been eliminated by the internet and personal computer. Because of technology, the image of universities and colleges to be a collection of buildings that are ivy colored has to be revised. There are tertiary level institutions which are purely online. E-learning has widened and expanded access of tertiary education to so many people through its increased flexibility. Unlike the traditional form of learning people living in remote areas like the rural areas can also participate in education thanks to technological innovation. More importantly online education ha made it possible for as many students to access tertiary education as possible. The face to face kind of education required only a specific number of students per class because buildings could only accommodate a certain number. Technology has on the other hand ensured that as many students as possible can attend the same class at the same time and do not have to worry about student/teacher ratio.

Flexibility has been another advantage of ICT is another advantage of higher education learning [4] . It has enabled students to enroll to different courses simultaneously because class attendance could be done at any time. A student can get class notes at his own time and go through them at his preferred time. Unlike in traditional learning where a student has to be present for him to get what the instructor could be talking about, technology provides room for flexible scheduling of classes. In fact there has been a long time problem of class scheduling in traditional face to face learning because it has to accommodate all the subjects without a clash in time. This requires some kind of statistical and probability knowledge which not everyone has. It could take quite some time for a school to come up with its teaching timetable. With technology, the problem of scheduling of classes is minimized because each as long as the instructor posts the learning materials on the internet and students could find them, then that’s enough.

ICT has also made it cheaper to provide or deliver education to students [5] . Generally it is very expensive to construct a school leave alone the supplementary facilities like pitches and accommodation. Because of ICT, you d not have to worry about construction of buildings any more. This money can be invested in other things like video conference facilities. E-learning makes it possible for a school to exist only virtually. The only expense would be on software or posting of information on the internet. Through ICT , multimedia software could be used by millions of students either at once or at different times. With the huge increase in the need for higher education, e-learning is the best means for delivery of higher education. Some third world countries have very huge populations and yet the academic work force is very small. In such a case, e-learning provides the best solution because you only need one instructor per subject and you will be able to attend to the needs of thousands of students.

A prestigious college or university would need a sizeable library with several tones of text books and other facilities like computers. It would also require employment of professionals to assist in the delivery of library services. E-learning on the other hand would only require the admission of students and the rest of learning material could either be provided by the instructor or students could search for their own learning material through online libraries. Digitization of learning material from books, academic journals and class notes makes learning easier for students because it provides them with possibilities of processing data [6] . Instead of keeping huge piles of papers which makes it cumbersome to find the information the student might be looking for digitalized material only requires one to search the key words and the information would be provided. This has also made researching easier. ICT has also reduced the cost of education and therefore made it possible for those students who could not afford traditional face to face learning which has so many requirements that involve money to finally have a chance to learn. Even though it might be expensive to install ICT technology, it could be used with almost zero marginal cost. ICT has also improved the quality of tertiary education because it provides new innovative methods of interaction and sharing of information.

Technology also has some disadvantages because it does not give the student a chance to interact one on one with the instructor and other students. Technology has therefore gotten rid of some interpersonal aspects that exist in a face to face kind of learning. With ICT a student can go through his entire course without having ever set his eyes on his examiner or instructor. This is somehow ‘funny’ because you would expect that students should know who there instructor is. Building some professional one on one relationship with an instructor is definitely good for learning because a student might be able to get information that he could not get through e-learning kind of environment [7] . Just the same way you would not tell a stranger some things, there are some issues that an instructor might not tell someone he has never met. Generally a student needs to build some rapport with his instructor. This does not happen under e-learning. We have some people who learn best in a classroom experience where they can listen to contributions from other students. Such people are definitely disadvantaged with the increased use of technology.

Working from home or place of work is also inconvenient because there is so much destruction from all sides. In traditional classroom, the mind is normally set to the lesson or school and therefore making it easier to understand concepts taught by the teacher. In case a student does not understand some issues, he is free to ask the teacher instantly [8] . It is however hard to find an online student asking his instructor a question because there is no one on one connection. On the same note if an instructor only records his lecture notes or video and provides it to his students and yet he is not available, it is more like watching a movie. There would be no concentration like in the traditional one on one classroom.

Since the demand for education is increasing, it would be best if technology is retained in higher learning but some one on one classes organized once in a while for the students to meet and create a rapport with their instructors. As much as it would be difficult to do so, this is the best way of improving the social learning as well as satisfying the increase in demand.