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Leveraging Technology To Enhance The Educational Experience

African American girl looking at digital tabletSpare a thought for your poor teacher anywhere from the year 2005 backwards. Anyone who was in school, teaching TAFE courses or delivering university lectures before this time probably remembers their teacher scribbling on an overhead projector’s transparent sheet with a whiteboard marker, scratching on a whiteboard or even a chalkboard in an illegible scrawl; and they probably remember how un-interactive and uninspiring some of their lessons were.

Not the fault of the teachers, necessarily, but it stands to reason that without moving parts some lessons can come across as stagnant and slightly dull.

Fast-forward ten years and students in classes are now learning from iPads, laptops and a plethora of other technological devices all specifically chosen and honed to make the educational experience as inclusive and involved as possible. Teachers are accessing these tools in a variety of really innovative and exciting ways, and it’s up to the teachers (and the students) to make the experience as productive as possible. However, it’s not just the abundance of technology that is revolutionising the educational experience for students across the world; it’s the growing amount of different types of media available for students and teachers to access. When we talk about the various types of materials, we’re talking about YouTube, forums, blogs, Wikipedia, websites and other visual and networking tools that allow information to be shared in a non-traditional way.

Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting tools for educational development, and how they are being applied across the board in educational environments to enhance the learning experience:

TED logo

Ted Talks

The humble TED has been around for quite a number years now, and it’s a fantastic platform to view and learn from experts, most of who manage to make some potentially pretty dry subject matter incredibly exciting and engaging. As a result of this, the TED talks is a tool that is often utilised by teachers and lecturers alike as a way of presenting some information in a new or different way.

The benefit to using Ted talks as well, is that it’s a break in the standard medium of text book learning or lecturing, and the video or audio format allows for easy digestion of the content. While Ted Talks definitely don’t replace educational material within a course, they certainly do provide a highly regarded and excellent source of information to a cohort.

YouTube

Ah YouTube… Jumping into a YouTube click-hole is certainly one of the best ways to procrastinate this side of Wikipedia, and this video sharing platform is home to some of the most interesting and off the wall video content since, well, ever. As an educational resource, teachers can use it to demonstrate anything under the sun, from how to master the perfect kick-flip through to a brief explanation of string theory. Oh, and cat videos. Lots and lots of cat videos. Chucking a YouTube video on between blocks of content can also provide some welcome respite for information-weary minds, so the benefits are numerous, really!

Wikipedia

Where once Wikipedia was the domain of dubious facts and unreliable content, it’s now one of the most up to date content platforms, thanks largely to the fact that it’s crowd-sourced. This means that its content is created and moderated by the masses, and it also means that if there’s an inaccuracy on a page that an expert on the field is more than likely going to be very quick to point it out. When events happen in the world such as deaths, awards being won, or details changed, Wikipedia is usually updated within minutes of the event occurring, thanks to the vigilant nature of these passionate individuals. Thus, as a resource – while it’s not accepted as a reference tool – it’s certainly a useful jumping off point for further research and discussion thanks to it’s all-encompassing nature.

Technology is evolving and education with it. How the relationship between the two will pan out is anyone’s guess. However, looking at the trend, we can be almost certain that technology will continue to play an integral role in the education the students of tomorrow.

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