Education Technology – Changing the Nature of Education, and Building a Bridge to Tomorrow

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post from Kelly Walsh, author of EmergingEdTech.com.

I write about Education Technology, and oversee a department that implements and supports it in a small private college in New York.  Education technology is something that I’m passionate about, especially when I think about the many ways that it can engage and inspire today’s students. There is enormous potential for emerging technologies to positively affect education.

Computerized tools and Internet-based applications can do so much today.  For example, Online Education is just “blowing up” (as my students might put it). According to the Sloan-C report, “Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009”, online enrollments have continued to grow at rates far in excess of the total higher education student population. This trend shows no signs of slowing.

The potential for online instruction to expand the availability of education to students of all ages, all over the world, strikes me as reminiscent of the way in which printing changed the distribution of knowledge hundreds of years ago.

Another technology that is enhancing the educational process is Lecture Capture. Recorded audio and video of lectures, with accompanying presentation materials (such as PowerPoint slide decks), can be viewed online in a nicely packaged format at any time after a class is given. This allows students to focus more on the lecture (and less on note-taking) and go over complex concepts as often as they wish. Of course, this is also a boon to students who can’t attend a specific lecture.

For those concerned that Lecture Capture might discourage attendance, there is a growing body of empirical and anecdotal evidence that suggests that attendance is not significantly affected by the availability of this technology. More importantly, there is evidence that this technology is positively affecting grades, learning, and teaching effectiveness.

In addition to tools that help deliver education, there are many tools that can help with educational administration, and applications that can improve communication between parents and teachers. Today we’re seeing a steady increase in the use of applications that let parents use the Internet to check on their child’s grades, access their next assignment, leave a question for a teacher, and more. I believe the day is soon coming when this is the norm, rather than the exception.

In the United States, the Obama administration has laid out a goal for America to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. The many exciting education technologies of today and tomorrow can play a crucial role in making this goal a reality.

The examples above are just a few of the many types of computer based tools available to today’s teachers. The possibilities for engagement, collaboration, and improved learning outcomes are unlimited with the help of these continually evolving education technologies.

Posted by Kelly Walsh
Director of Institutional Information & Technology at The College of Westchester