Technology in education is here to stay, but it will never replace the teacher and their presence in this process. The pandemic has closed the dichotomy of “yes or no” for technology as an educational tool but in no way replaced the role of the teacher, much less the importance of establishing human links during the different periods of a person’s learning.
The use of technologies indeed brought the possibility to create a more satisfactory teaching-learning process, making both teachers and students develop capacities and characteristics that favor the learning of new experiences. However, we cannot forget that it would be difficult for technologies alone to have the effect they can have on education without the use of proper teaching methodologies.
Various video call systems, interactive platforms, virtual environments (classrooms and campuses, among others) are the protagonists of education during the months without face-to-face classes. The use of these platforms, tools, and devices serves to maintain links between students, teachers, and families and bring to light the benefits and possibilities that technological advances can bring to the teaching process. The digital transformation, innovations, and advances in information and communication technology have found their place among so many other practices that the pandemic has accelerated. Technology in education was already with us, but the global health crisis hastened its maturation.
Main benefits of technology in education
- Technology allows interaction, playing, and learning from various platforms, fostering a climate of participation during classes.
- It also lets us learn remotely on flexible schedules and personalize our lessons according to our priorities.
- Through technologies, teachers have excellent organizational, planning, and educational tools, allowing them to save time and make faster progress in teaching.
- Platforms can integrate and achieve synergy between all actors in the education system: school staff, students, and families.
- It allows early identification of the risk of drop-out to support students and families.
- It shortens distances and breaks down borders between students and educational establishments all over the world.
- Digital devices enable fast, fluid, and secure communication between educational institutions and students.
- It allows to record classes, enabling students who were unable to connect at the time to catch up and facilitate the review of what they have learned.
As we can see, the use of technologies shortened the distance between educators and knowledge seekers, making knowledge accessible anytime and anywhere. There is no need to be physically present in class to hear the lecture anymore, no need to buy paperback books or spend hours in a library to prepare for the class, and there is always a way to get in touch with your teacher, other students, or trusted essay helper when you have questions about the new material.
Main challenges of implementing technology in education
The benefits of using technology are apparent, but they also come with responsibilities. The implementation of technological tools and solutions in education faces the following challenges:
- A cultural change is needed and will take time because, inevitably, every community has different maturation periods.
- Educational institutions must also undergo a process of adaptation, acceptance of the need, and incorporation of technology for their learning stage.
- Teachers and students have to learn to work collaboratively, making the most of virtual environments to complement face-to-face learning.
- It is critical to train teachers to incorporate new tools into their classes. It is also important to understand that innovations in the technological world are advancing by leaps and bounds, which obliges teachers to keep up to date with the changes that are taking place. This is where institutions must invest in training and education for the proper use of platforms and tools.
- Homework and assessment systems have to be adapted to new technologies so that students can face the challenges of the current reality and the “new normal.” Electronic devices and specialized software should help to reinforce learning and autonomy in students.
- The digital era forces us to a paradigm shift, designed for young people who need a different kind of incorporation of knowledge and preparation for the knowledge society, and those who can cope with the demands of the new skills of the 21st century.
All this is possible if we can quickly begin to bridge the digital divide, a problem that the pandemic has also put at the top of the governmental agenda around the world. Inequality in Internet access already existed before the pandemic but was not as critical as it became in the most complicated lockdown periods. There were always children who had no Internet at home and even those who had no computer at all. This tendency is even more significant in low-income societies, where approximately 7 out of 10 children and/or adolescents do not have these technological possibilities.
Everything indicates that the return to face-to-face classes will be progressive, staggered, and protocoled after the pandemic is finally controlled and eliminated. In this context, the state, companies, and educational institutions have to work together to guarantee distance education in all social strata. At the same time, we must be able to plan mixed teaching processes – both face-to-face and virtual – relying on the benefits of technology. We need to understand that it is part of a paradigm shift aimed not at replacing anything or anyone but to complement and provide new content and resources for the new generations of students and teachers.