How Technology Is Changing Education
Technology is doing more than making education easier or more accessible. It's changing how we approach the whole industry. Before the Internet, learners required either a book or a teacher to learn. Technology has removed both from the equation.
If you want to learn how to braid your daughter's hair or how dairy farmers affect the economy, you only need to type the query into your phone to find solid tutorials or explanations. With the sheer amount of YouTube videos out there, you can learn anything without the ability to read.
Technology is transitioning from a supplement to the fuel for changing educators' learning approaches. It is allowing learners to pick up new skills without leaving their house or asking others for assistance.
Learning On Your Own
You can learn to do anything with a laptop and an Internet connection. Students are beginning to create their own paths to education. Ivy League colleges offer hundreds of online courses that are free to take. Topics range from advanced economics to basic nutrition. You can sign up for any class and learn at your own pace. You don't even need to take the prerequisites.
The danger of creating your own curriculum is failing to see the need for knowledge or skills that play a part in the overall understanding of a topic. A finance major might not see the point of history class, but the world's happenings greatly impact global economics. People are quick to look back when circumstances align with historical events. Master's degrees include basic classes like statistics and writing because they are vital to students' success in obtaining higher-level degrees.
Learning In Groups
Advanced pedagogy tells us that students learn better when they engage in the material rather than simply reading about it or listening to a professor drone on through lectures. A major reason people attend college is to increase their chances of getting a better job with higher pay. Jobs pay people to create things and do stuff, not listen all day long. Teachers are using groups to have students engage in collaborative learning. Technology is making it easier to work with others without meeting in person.
Collaborative learning has students work with their peers to solve a problem. They use the things they learn through textbooks or lectures to solve real-world problems. These group projects are especially useful in higher levels of education, where students have vastly different professional experiences. This is becoming a common model for the best online degrees.
Self-directed learning allows students to be choosey about which courses they take. Students can pick specific online courses to learn only the skills they want. Tech skills beyond the basics of Microsoft Office are sought out by hiring managers. A teacher, program manager, or senior vice president might want to learn a new skill without pursuing an entirely new degree. Tech skills like SQL or HTML have plenty of free resources and are easily learned.
Courses relevant to the learner will be more impactful to the student's future and their success in that class. Biology and other classes that aren't relevant to a student's future career field are falling by the wayside as learners focus on relevant skills. Some learners are taking this to the extreme by enrolling in online certificate programs that focus on building in-demand skills over attending college at all.
Less Routine Learning
Word problems in math class are the bane of most students' existence. It's easier to receive a problem with no context and rely on math skills rather than solving a problem with context. Problems in life are rarely isolated instances. Route and routine tasks are taking a backseat to problems present in real life. Unlike the math problems we see in class, problems often have more than one solution. Context matters when solving problems and educators are making the switch by making students apply their knowledge and skills to problems rather than blindly build skills through repeated practice.
STEM Is The Future
Of course, for technology to keep advancing, students need to learn about how tech works. Coding has taken far too long to be a staple of public education. So much of our lives are dependent on software programs that run on various coding languages. We can't always rely on self-taught geniuses to create the computers and programs we rely on every day. Educators need to begin incorporating basic coding as a necessity for students.
About the Author:
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Artur Meyster is the CTO of Career Karma (YC W19), an online marketplace that matches career switchers with coding bootcamps. He is also the host of the Breaking Into Startups podcast, which features people with non-traditional backgrounds who broke into tech.