How Education Can Get the Most Out of Technology
For more than 60 years, Singapore's schools have incorporated technology into their students’ day-to-day learning processes, setting the goal for them to develop competitive vocational skills. Evidently, this strategy works, as Singapore is leading the way for workplace skills, allowing graduates to access better-paying jobs and more rewarding careers.
The nation’s success story shows how important it is to have comprehensive study plans that align with the requirements of the future labor market. Labor market experts agree that regardless of the industry, developing skills in technology are fundamental in the working world.
Technology can foster learning across disciplines
If schools and educators around the world want to prepare children for a successful career, they need to incorporate computer and tech skills in the curricula.
The difficulties of implementing technology into curricula for schools and educators differ among various regions, but it all comes down to standardized curricula and limited access to computer and software. Lacking access to editing software, product programming and other tech-based tools impedes skills development among children.
Through schools’ curricula, students should be able to develop a technological career, from which they can explore several areas of great importance, for example spreadsheets, word processing, databases, multimedia presentations, image editing, and programming.
This curriculum has a vital influence on the overall result of education. Integrating a comprehensive methodology on education builds a future generation of students who are ready to engage with the business tools commonly used. They can articulate their ideas using technology and develop core competencies to succeed academically.
I propose a cross-subject integration across five disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM). This method allows kids to take advantage of different knowledge elements to complete projects and build new capabilities based on existing strengths.
You have to give children the opportunity to create their own portfolio of creative projects – such as 3D modelling, programming, word processing. In the end they have the skills to use different applications. The projects could be, for example, developing a plan for a sustainable city or organizing an online event. Such comprehensive projects can demonstrate where children are competent and where they fail to understand certain concepts. This gives students the opportunity for evidence-based learning and optimizes their learning processes.
Tech can support student’s individual learning experiences
“Every student learns at his or her own pace; some need to be challenged, some need to be supported. Recorded lesson videos can help low performing students cope with challenges, while allowing high performers to accelerate quickly to a level that they’re comfortable with,” says Nhon Ma, CEO and Co-Founder of Numerade.
Ma points out that a student’s individual learning experience can be fostered with flipped learning. Following this concept, educators provide students with materials and presentations they can view at home or outside class. On the virtue of technology, teachers can record their lessons and/or combine theirs and other fellow teachers' lessons on any topic, particularly when it comes to more complicated concepts in science. Students can consume the lesson’s video according to their own pace, repeat sequences they struggle to understand, and ask their teachers questions for clarification.
Teachers in turn can review student analytics to pinpoint their weak points and assign quizzes or worksheets digitally to assess students’ understanding. Afterwards, teachers can address specific items where students are struggling vs. wasting time regurgitating information.
By leveraging video-based flipped learning, education becomes student-centered. “A student-centered education should understand the goals, weaknesses and strengths of a student and provide a personalized study plan,” said Ma.
Accessible and gamified education made possible with tech
Alejandra Zuluaga, VP of Business Development & Strategic Growth at CertiProf says, “During the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of training for teachers using technology resulted in poor student performance.”
This low performance was further fueled by a disadvantageous study environment. Students faced many distractions at home, including social media, a lack of personal tutoring, and limited Internet access. As a result of this low performance, remote education scares most institutions and distance learning remains limited.
Student-centered education should be easy to navigate and accessible at any time. By leveraging the right technology, students can find a variety of materials that help them understand content according to their own pace and knowledge, from home and in school.
Further, technology can provide students with tools that aren’t typically found in a classroom. Because materials are presented as games offering a reward system, an engaging design, videos and applications, technology can boost the motivation to learn.
Zuluaga points out that even though technology should be integrated, “We can’t forget that the student is the most important subject. For her, the best curriculum is based on a mix of print-based materials as well as technological tools. Only by giving students both personal support as well as tech tools to self-learning, a successful education can be guaranteed.”
School districts and teachers need to find ways to better use technology in the classroom. Lessons with a practical application will eliminate the timeless question asked by students, ‘When are we ever going to need this?’ And instead, get children ready for adult life.
About the author
Hugo Aguirre is the Development and Education Director of TBox.