Dave Dolan, chief product officer, Veative, shares his views on how technology is making great strides in education, offering better opportunities for personalised learning, enhanced digital access, and quality education.
What is the best thing about today’s education system?
Education has evolved dramatically over the years. From textbook learning and smartboards to online learning platforms, educational software, and virtual reality simulations, education has come a long way. The education system today recognises that every student learns differently and has unique needs. That singular idea has created a paradigm shift in the last few decades from teacher-centered instruction to a learner-centric approach.
As a result, there is a greater emphasis on personalised learning, where teachers tailor their instruction to meet the individual needs of each student. Collaboration and group work is becoming increasingly important in the education system. Students are encouraged to work together in teams to solve problems and complete projects, promoting communication skills and critical thinking. In addition to academic skills, there is great emphasis on developing soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and leadership. The best part about today’s education system lies in its fluidity; its capacity to absorb, evolve, and expand with the times. While there exists a huge space for traditional teaching, there also lies a great opportunity for digital tools to supplement conventional methods to make the learning process more meaningful and impactful.
Today, the education landscape is continually evolving to meet the needs of students in the 21st century, recognising that learning is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
What is the one thing you would like to change in the education system?
One of the main issues that needs to be addressed is the lack of equitable access to quality education. There are many factors that contribute to this issue, such as location, socioeconomic status, or digital access. This can lead to a situation where students from disadvantaged backgrounds do not receive the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. Equitable distribution of educational resources, teacher training, and access to technology are some starting points to bring about this change. The goal is to create an education system that provides equal opportunities for all students, regardless of their background, to receive a high-quality education that prepares them for success in their future endeavours.
What is the role digital has played in the evolution of the education system?
The pandemic brought forth the far-reaching impact of technology in education. New methods were devised and the pace of development of existing digital methods was accelerated. Online learning has made education accessible to a broader range of students, regardless of location or time constraints. With the help of digital tools, educators can now personalize the learning experience for each student based on their individual learning style, preferences, and pace. The internet has made vast amounts of information available to students and teachers, allowing for greater access to educational resources, research materials, and educational content. Digital technology has enabled more efficient and effective ways of assessing and providing feedback to students. Computer-based assessments, automated grading systems, and data analytics tools allow for more accurate and timely assessments of student progress. Immersive technologies like augmented and virtual reality have made learning engaging, interesting, and more effective, allowing access into places previously unavailable. This access includes microscopic places such as cells, dangerous areas such as within a working engine, on to far-reaching locations such as the moon. Access is no longer limited.
What has been the disadvantage of digital in education?
Though information and access is now available to all, it is still not attainable by all. A digital divide exists, which refers to unequal access to technology and the Internet among students. This leads to educational inequality, as students who do not have access to digital tools and resources may struggle to keep up with others. Too often, the divide is a function of economic might. It does not need to be that way.
With all systems, and education technology is no different, a burden must be borne. To make everything available online and in the cloud is the simplest and most cost-effective way for a company. The ability to access these materials is incumbent upon the school. For light data such as student information, assessment scores, textual information and a smattering of images, the burden is likewise fairly easy to handle. Most schools have enough infrastructure to manage, or they can be brought up to a fair level of equity with a bit of investment.
However, for far richer educational resources, practicality and feasibility are vitally important words, and must be respected. It is easy for a content company to put “heavy” digital textbooks, laden with audio and video, into the cloud, but it is not practical for many rural schools to access these. The same is true of virtual reality (VR) resources. VR educational modules can offer an incredible attention-grabbing, distraction-free environment for learning, unlike anything else presently available. Should a provider of such material simply place that online, it is not feasible for the majority of schools, and severely limits access to these resources. If the burden of access is borne by the company, rather than the school, an understanding of one’s audience is shown and respected.
What could be seen as a disadvantage of digital education can be turned into an advantage if the burden of access is borne by the provider of such resources, rather than the recipient.
What is the career advice you would like to give to students?
Now, more than ever, it is imperative to be mindful of the career landscape five to ten years in the future. Skills that once had promise and a roadmap to job and financial security may no longer be needed. The landscape was always changing, but the pace at which it is evolving is rapid and is only accelerating.
It is a fact of life that computer and technology skills will be needed in every field, regardless of what it may be. Going into nursing? Technology will impact that career, as it will in practically every job and career you can imagine. This does not mean that everyone should be a coder and that everyone should work in STEM. But basic knowledge and the ability to properly use and understand these tools will drive success in all fields.
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The jobs of the future are expected to have a growing demand for professionals who are not only tech-savvy but also skilled in communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration. These four areas are of prime importance and it will be up to every single student to find the best way to communicate, be easy to work collaboratively with and think critically. These skills will lead to the greatest chance at career success.
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