Technology presents a beautiful opportunity to re-shape 21st-century education because it’s successful with students and teachers. One study in the US has shown that the introduction of technology makes 87percent of students more likely to attend class, and 72 percent of them more likely to participate. While a study by Smoothwall found that 96 percent of teachers believe technology has had a positive impact on the way children engage and learn in lessons.
Take augmented reality, for example. The technology can be used to augment field trips by adding a layer of information and interactivity to the activity, help with foreign language studies by translating text, or bring subjects such as coral reefs and electromagnetism to life through apps like Google Expeditions. Considering all the applications and the appeal of the technology, it’s no wonder that the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) reports “augmented reality has the potential to revolutionize learning in primary and secondary schools more than any other technology has done in the recent past”.
If we look at virtual reality, we can see significant benefits in using the technology—from its ability to enhance recall through to its capacity for building empathy. These advantages position VR as a unique learning aid. Many companies are focusing on driving positive change in education through technology.
Seth Andrew is a continuing social entrepreneur, having incorporated Democracy Builders, Democracy Prep, REV, and Washington Leadership Academy. He then led policy and partnerships for the world’s largest network of schools for families earning less than USD 2 per day. Previously, Andrew worked in the Executive Office as the Senior Advisor for Education Technology for President Barack Obama. There Andrew assisted launch Computer Science for everyone, as well as made the White House accessible in Virtual Reality for the first time in American history.
Seth is a principal advocate for the power of technology to modify the fundamentals of global schooling. In addition to helping build the numerous schools in the US and hundreds in Africa, he established Washington Leadership Academy as a lab school to explore these new concepts. He was awarded a USD 10m prize from the XQ: Super School Project to create out that new model. The secret sauce behind this success is that Seth wanted to recognize WLA build a virtual-reality high school chemistry lab and require each student to learn computer science in all four years of high school, plus develop meaningful digital projects, including content in XR.
As this vision comes to achievement, Seth explained to the room: “no child will be burned, no teacher will have to pick up a chemical spill, and access to a state-of-the-art science lab will necessitate just a fraction of the bricks and mortar version.” In addition to these practical advantages, there are pedagogical benefits as well: “We can penetrate down into the valence of each atom to see electrons rotating in a way you can’t in a regular laboratory.” The big goal is to encourage students to use the tools of technology to build the future world they will occupy. That’s why computer science is a required field, and students will graduate with the technical abilities to code their projects in Virtual Reality, among other mediums.
It is apparent technology can be leveraged to formulate an engaging and personalized atmosphere and open up opportunities for deeper learning— technology should be utilized as an opportunity to obtain more knowledge, not an explanation to know less. Furthermore, students no longer have to be limited to the classroom or pushed into a one-size-fits-all system. However, technology is not the counterclaim to everything—we still need classroom guides and students with an appetite for learning.