When smart technologies and education interact

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When smart technologies and education interact

Linda Lielbriede, Founder of skolens.lv

Living in the world full of technologies has its perks and its flaws most notorious of which is negative impact on students’ attention and study achievements. However instead of never-ceasing complaining about negative effects, how about embracing the benefits technologies hold for education and teaching-learning process improvement?

Truth being told, modern technologies as artificial intelligence (AI), educational software, machine learning and virtual classrooms are the milestones of irreversible change of teaching approaches and educators’ role.

Expanding classroom

Imagine yourself in a crowded bus or in long queue at a shopping centre – probably 4 out of 5 people will be “glued” to blue, bright screens of their smartphones. Phones can, of course, be used as way of entertainment but it is also a way of gaining knowledge. People download language learning apps, read books online or even learn playing a music instrument.

By using technology-saturated teaching methods, tutors can expand classroom from browsing through plain textbooks to traveling world in 40-minute lesson. Educational movies, countless programs, online tests, interactive tasks – this gives the real thrill to study.

Technologies should be treated as an ally that assist teachers during tutoring process. For example, technologies alleviate completion of standard tasks such as working according to plan, grading students or showing visual materials. On the other hand, teachers have more time to focus on each of their students – involve them in discussions or encouraging them to approach given problem with wider perspective.

Learning – life-long process

It has been said that many professions are at the threshold of complete extinction. And partially that happens due to expansion of technology use in various spheres. Time is one our modern world’s greatest values and with technologies it can be used wisely – starting from day to day tasks at home to methods that enhance study process.

Teachers who implement technologies in their work help to sculpt future professionals who are ready to adapt and always learn. Why is learning important even after graduating? Technologies are at constant progress, thus the need to understand them and knowledge of how to use them demands independent life-long studies.

Technical skills are of great value in modern world, barely anything can be done without nowadays. Instead of denying the impact of technologies, they should be used wisely.

Distance is not a problem anymore

Business trips and traveling abroad for a long time during year are reality of many families. Worried parents wonder if their children will ever manage to study all the necessary materials on time. Technologies have solved this problems – availability of online courses and testing systems have made it possible to acquire knowledge not being physically present at school or university. However tutor-student interaction is an important part of learning process as it allows to better understand subject and strengthen what already has been learned. In such cases valuable tool is an online platform that either helps student find thorough explanation on the question asked or find teacher who could actually help.

Companies want to implement technologies in education

Transformations of learning process have taught a lesson to technology developers – they focus their products on certain age groups or certain professionals such as teachers. High quality education helps have skilled professionals in the future.

Many countries embrace company attempts to improve education system with new technologies and tools. For example, there have been programmes to give every child a laptop, but teachers have lacked the skills and digital training to use them so the computers end up locked inside drawers. Such investments have not only wasted money in countries on tight budgets, but have also created widespread misunderstanding of how best to invest in technological solutions.

Whilst state and company cooperation not always is successful there are much better collaborations between non-governmental organizations (NGO) and software developers. NGOs usually represent interests of certain groups thus they know what is demanded, while companies are eager to try themselves in different, maybe more complex field. In world such collaborations have spread quite successfully.

Such attempts have also been in Latvia – one of the most recent problems that emerged in 2015 regarded private tutors and necessity for more than 30% of all students seek additional help for successful learning process. This means that students are not confident with knowledge acquired in classroom and seeks options to strengthen what has been learnt. In addition to several Internet platforms that offer online study courses, there are also tools to find tutors and improve knowledge in individual 1-to-1 studies. “Nordexo IT” was approached by the founders of organisation “Skolēns LV” seeking for assistance in improving online tool and developing new learning methods. A website skolens.lv at the moment is the biggest website in Latvia offering students and their parents to find suitable tutor for better understanding of any subject.

Future is today

Well-adapted technologies help saving valuable time and shaping our futures. Students are the ones who will operate tomorrow’s world thus good technological skills in addition to general competence of critical thinking, structured thoughts and leadership skills are current necessity.

While state and government authorities often lack time or budget to implement new technologies in learning processes, private collaborations between software developers and organisations can bear fruits quicker than imagined. Future starts today – it is your time to act.

Published at 28.10.2019.

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