Education is an astronomically important factor in life – for everyone. An educated person has the ability to make practical decisions. Education not only enables individuals to put their potential to the best use and do something productive in the upcoming future, but also plays a main role in shaping an individual to be a better, responsible citizen and an active member of society. The latest and most advanced education is assisted by technology. All education levels across nations are embracing technology based education. There are studies, professors, students, and others who support the embrace, yet others, who read negative statistics, are against it. It is understandable why there are people against technology in education, because there are downsides to it. In a perfect world there would be no negatives or downsides, but a perfect world does not exist. However, the pros outweigh the cons and so I believe education would be at its best with the aid of tech. Technology improves education for the students and the teachers who instruct it, and the tax payers who fund education.
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Technology aided education goes by dozens of terms, such as hybrid learning, technology-based learning (TBL), mixed learning, blended learning, online aided schooling, information technology (IT) for education, and distance learning. Whatever term it is, its learning simply described as “mixing the use of modern technologies to enhance students’ learning experiences and curriculum requirements” (“Blended Learning Poised for Takeoff in Schools”). A report recently released, identified six emerging models for blended learning, ranging from guided online instruction in the classroom to “self-blended” models where students take courses a la carte. They defined blended learning as “any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.” The six models identified in the report included:
the “face-to-face driver” model, in which a teacher in a traditional classroom instructs, while technological and online is available for additional instruction
the “rotation” model, in which students move back and forth between online and classroom instruction
the “flex” model in which the curriculum is delivered primarily through an online platform, with teachers providing onsite support
the “online lab” approach, where an online course is delivered in a physical classroom or computer lab
the “self-blend” is a model in which students choose on their own which courses they take online to supplement their schools’ offerings
the “online driver” where the courses are primarily online and physical facilities are used only for extracurricular activities, required check-ins, or similar functions (“Report: 6 Blended Learning Models Emerge”).
Education has come a long way since the one-room classrooms of former America: the evolution of education has come to the virtual world we currently reside in. It is unarguable that there is no generation as tech-savvy or at ease with the online environment than today’s students who have grown up immersed in a virtual world. We exist in a generation where iPods, smart phones, and laptops have replaced notebook and pens, while inventions such as the Smart Board, LCD projectors, tutoring software, podcasts, video conferencing, and document cameras, among other education aiding tech, have been created for the educational setting (Chelley, 2007). Technology-based learning covers all learning done by electronic technology, including:
audio and video conferencing
Lance Dublin, a researcher of blended learning, said our generation is “experiencing a kind of renaissance, with new technology prompting new thinking about how to enhance, extend, and enable learning” and that technology and media are important for a student’s quality education, stating, “new tools and technologies are opening up exciting new possibilities” (Dublin, 2011). Many education facilities and programs have embraced the technological innovation of education. For example, free online public education is accessible for k-12 across the country. Colleges feel the pressure from competitor schools to offer quality online courses to their students. Some schools have made technological advances -and in rare cases completely adopted technology-based learning – by offering online courses, funding classroom tech, and making the courses more tech and media friendly. Four States of the United States of America -Alabama, Florida, Michigan, and Idaho -require online courses from their high school students (“Board Approves Idaho Online Class Requirement”). In Minnesota, school districts have thrown out the expensive, mass-produced, hardcopy textbooks for technology-friendly, online curriculum developed by their teachers on the web. The problems with hardcopy textbooks are that they are written to the requirements of Texas and California, the two biggest markets for the book publishers and can cost sixty-five dollars. That means a third of the books go unused in most states, plus they become outdated after only a decade. Buying new textbooks at least every ten years is very expensive, but if schools followed these districts examples the money saved would be “unbelievable” as one teacher puts it (“Minn. Teachers Write Their Own Online Textbooks”). Through the embrace already taken toward tech in the classroom it can be predicted that technology and education entwined is positively affecting education.
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In a study, most respondents believe that technology will become even more entwined into education learning. However, other’s hold opinion that blended learning is only a push for a technological advanced future without concern for the students’ quality of education. They argue that technology-based students are not excelling, but doing quite the opposite. They believe that there are not enough results to safely say that technology positively influences education. One teacher, who observed her school’s effort to increase online instruction, said about the students, “[the] poor kids are guinea pigs” (“Board Approves Idaho Online Class Requirement”). However, Angiello Roanne, a professor who teaches online courses at Bergen Community College, New Jersey, analyzes one of the many studies done on internet influenced courses. She calls those who believe face to face education is the only way to teach ‘traditionals’. The key findings of the study are firstly, that students who took all or part of their classes online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction; and secondly, education combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction. It was also found that online learning is effective for all learner groups (Angiello, 2010). Another argument against blended education is the price that comes with it. It is true that all the new, shiny technology can put a hole in someone’s pocket, but it’s important to remember that in the long run the technology is paying for itself. Like the example of online textbooks, where they can be updated virtually, instead of buying new hardcopy textbooks every decade. Other opponents make claims that schools will replace teachers with computers and shift state taxpayer money to out-of-state companies to pay for the online curriculum and laptops. However, according to the article “Achieving Effective Learning Effects In The Blended Course: A Combined Approach Of Online Self-Regulated Learning And Collaborative Learning With Initiation” students who become less dependent on instructors, even if their dependence on technology increases, are more likely to succeed with qualities that make them more independent (McFarlane, 2008). To address the shift of tax money to other states, the e-learning -electronically supported learning and teaching- market in North America is the fastest growing market, so money regulating throughout the states is beneficial for the nation’s economy (SulÄiÄ, 2009).
Education supported by technology is a topic that has caught the attention of many, and so this interest has developed the cause of many studies, usually performed by professors; and who knows better than professors on education? They first handedly see what the students need to succeed and how tech affects them in the classroom. Professors Pamela Lam and Sarbari Bordia completed an interview study model, concluded that e-learning, the term for TBL and computer-aided tools for education, offers a variety of advantages including, “its flexibility in adapting to the educational needs of students, its cost effectiveness in opening educational opportunities to larger number of students, and its convenience in providing access to information” (Lam, 2008). Dr. Chia-Wen conducted a study so that educators and education facilities would recognize the importance of technology integrated classes (Tsai, 2008). Four university professors wrote an article on blended learning. In it they stated, “Based on a growing body of knowledge, there is little doubt that computer and communication technologies can facilitate and enhance learning” (Chelley, 2007). Blended learning creates the opportunity for educators, institutions, and students to attain their education beyond the walls of the classroom.
Technological innovations have changed and benefited the way schools teach and students learn. In a 2008 survey, nearly two-thirds (63%) of the respondents voted that technology will have a major influence on teaching methods over the next five years. With those five years almost up, it is undeniable to say that technology has influenced education -and the next five years afterwards are only going to increases in technological advances in education. These technological changes will effectively change the skill-sets of the future workforce, as well as its approach to work in general. It’s important to consider the question of what it will mean to be an educated person in the 21st century. Amy Lynch, who has studied Generation Y (individuals born between 1982 and 2001, also referred to as “millenials”), says that they are “open to collaboration, have an enormous facility for multi-tasking, and are at ease with new technologies.” Graduates are entering the workforce with “high multi-sensory-processing” and technological abilities leaving employers expecting graduates to have accumulated most of the necessary technology skills before joining their organizations (Glenn, 2008). In the cases where schools require of their students to have taken blended learning classes to graduate, they say they’re giving their students the opportunity to have online experience for their résumé and preparing them to succeed. Advocates for online and blended courses agree that the majority of today’s workforce requires some sort of tech knowledge (Davis, 2008). Not only does the use of technology improve learning in the classroom, but it is essential to success after graduation.
I understand how people would be against technology in education, because there are downsides to it. In a perfect world there would be no negatives or downsides, but, of course, a perfect world does not exist. However, the pros out weight the cons and so I believe education would be at its best with the aid of tech. People once asked if it was possible for students to learn from a distance, but now the question is how distance learning affects student outcomes. Since the use of computers the beliefs that distance learning was less effective than traditional learning has greatly decreased. Although e-learning has its drawbacks, it is the action that will help schools exceed. The majority of researches and studies support educational technology for students, and give evidence that it helps better their education. If education stays as it is currently, we are missing out on so much opportunity for improvement. The workforce and world in general will become more and more technology dependent, yet graduated students may not have the skills and experience to be prepared for what awaits them after their education. The concept of blending learning is still evolving, but its potential is great and has proven itself to be effective. This important step in the evolution of education will not only benefit students in their learning, but also the students who are preparing to enter the workforce.
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