The role of technology in education

The pace of technological advances continues to increase with every passing year. In the education sector, there have been differing responses – some schools have firmly embraced new technology as learning tools, while others have distanced themselves from it.

Here are some of the ways that schools around the world are approaching the role of technology in the classroom.

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More integrated STEM teaching

Governments are pushing for more science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teaching in schools – and with good reason. This area of study has been identified as an area of likely skills shortage in the future. As a result, the STEM syllabus being taught in many schools today bears little resemblance to what was taught under the same banner 10to 15 years ago. Schools in the US in particular have attempted to better integrate these four subjects into each other – with mixed results.

iPads and notebooks in class

Students begin using iPads from age five as part of their usual classwork at some schools in Singapore. Stamford, a Singapore international school, integrates technology into lessons from kindergarten. This transitions into using notebooks and MacBooks in subsequent years – a far cry from the physical paper notebooks in use in many less progressive schools.

Coding and software development

A few years ago, the UK became the first nation in the world to integrate coding into a new computing curriculum for all school-aged students. Children begin learning about algorithms from age five, and begin debugging by age seven.

Proponents of the scheme insist that this early learning is necessary to fill a likely skills shortage in the future, saying that children who do not learn to code will get left behind.

Robotics

Thanks to initiatives such as The Robotics Academy in the US, robotics is now being taught as a core subject in many American schools.

In Australia, one state government has passed a bill making it compulsory to teach robotics throughout the equivalent of the K-12 ages. These moves have both come in response to research identifying robotics as an area in need of development in order to fill a skills gap.

Gamification

Apps such as Duolingo – a language learning app – are now being used by schools to help students learn in a fun and engaging way.

The mobile app uses a series of game-style challenges, rewarding users with “Lingots” – the app’s own virtual currency that can be traded for in-game rewards. The theory goes that students are already engaging with apps and games outside of school, so creating games and apps for learning will help it seem less like work and more like fun.

Personalized curriculum apps

Tech start-ups such as AltSchool are producing apps that create personalized curriculums on an individual student level. AltSchool describes this as a “comprehensive platform to personalize learning in schools, with the goal of making the best education the most accessible.”

The app allows round communication between student, parent, and teacher. This allows the app’s curriculums (called “playlists”) to be monitored and fine-tuned based on feedback.

These are just some of the ways that technology is being incorporated in the classrooms of today to enhance learning.

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