The rapidly evolving advantages and approximate inevitability of technology’s fusion with education makes for a good research and analytical topic.
Prior to establishing Skyline Futuristic Eco West African Academy – a Primary School where student work is mostly administered via digital tools; we took out time to analyse data, general and local effects of implementation, and the effects digital tools has on the mind of Children. And we found out that;
“With regards education technology, it is all about implementation and suitability”.
Effective education is about finding the best way to pass across a message. That is – finding the best link between what you have to teach, and what a child already understands. And when it comes to education technology, one thing stands clear; “All research done to analyse the impact of using digital tools in education agree on one thing, and that is that ‘adopting technology in education increases student engagement and enthusiasm which makes for an easier transfer of information from the Teacher to the Students.'”
In a recent paper titled “Unleashing the Future: Educators “speak up” about the use of emerging technologies for learning” (2010), teachers report that technology increases factors of student engagement – including cognitive, affective, behavioral, academic, and social engagement. The reported outcomes of increased access to technology in classrooms increases aspects of student engagement, such as taking initiative and responsibility for learning, using resources wisely, time on task, and having interest and desire to pursue information and learn in and beyond classrooms.
As a result of using technology in the classroom, students are more motivated to learn (51%), apply their knowledge to practical problems (30%), and take ownership of their learning (23%). Teachers also report that, by using technology, students are developing key 21st Century skills including creativity (39%), collaboration (30%) and skills in problem-solving and critical thinking (27%). Furthermore, the learning experience becomes more meaningful for the student as teachers have newfound time to differentiate instruction (31%) to a greater degree, and have more information to how their students are doing academically (29%) (Project Tomorrow, 2010, p. 2).
In Celebrating School Improvement (2006), Parsons, McRae, Taylor (2006) report that students in K-12 schools used technology to gather information, analyze information, and share information (pp 110-111). The positive outcomes included higher achievement and quality of work, and, “perhaps more important, student motivations and time spent on task were reported to have increased significantly with the integration of technology into Alberta’s classrooms” (p. 112). A second element of “multimedia and technology” for improved learner engagement was Current Issues in Education Vol. 14 No. 1 16 to create a “rich learning environment” that allowed cross-curricular, interactive, and exploratory learning.
For detailed information on the above quoted research click here to read the comprehensive publication by Arizona State University.
At Skyline Futuristic Eco West African Academy, we do not use technology for the sake of technology, we use it because of the massive advantages it brings to the table.
Integrating technology into education in Africa does not make education different, but better. The fact that it is different is merely coincidental.
For example, all our students have individual access to over 200+ high quality interactive (and increasing) e-book catalogue which include, Disney classics, science series, reading/vocabulary enhancers, African tales, Aesop’s fables, and a wide variety of topics. Now, let us imagine for a second that we decided to build a traditional library where students go to borrow books; the first major problem is that two pupils cannot borrow the same book at the same time, not to mention the financial, inconvenience, proximity, environmental and other numerous factors that puts usage of high quality e-books ahead of running a traditional library.
Let us take out some time to put forward a few more advantages that informed our adoption of education technology:
In our Academy; thanks to digital tools, Parents can monitor their Child’s movement as each parent is notified whenever their Child checks in and out of school. Classwork and activities are periodically captured and seamlessly sent to Parents to enable them actively participate in their Child’s education; this is because very few things gives a Child a sense of pride and motivates a Child to push harder like knowing that their Parent’s are watching and a part of what they are doing. Plus the divide between Child and Parent (owing to career demands) is significantly minimised due to the fact that our Parents can now follow their Child’s School activities while at work and discuss it over dinner.
Grateful to the fact that marking and grading is systematically digitized in our academic system, our Teachers have time to focus on teaching and guiding which means that Pupils have more time to be taught. This is unlike scenarios where Teachers spend countless hours marking and grading meaning less time to do the most important task which is teaching and ensuring that topics are fully understood.
Again, our Pupils use and annotate PDF’s, use Microsoft Word, they use and create Powerpoint presentations, collaborate on documents etc. These are workplace skills that a Child is picking up at an early age. For an exclusive list of benefits read 20 Unequalled Benefits of Education Technology.
Relativity is another factor that comes into play when it comes to analysing the reason behind our decision to integrate technology into education in this part of Africa. A Child in Elementary School in (let’s say) Sweden at the end of an average School day – goes home to a well organised traffic system, housing system, smooth road, professional security agents, 24/7 power supply, a home with WIFI and uninterrupted clean water supply; everything about the society the Child interacts with outside School speaks of order, possibility, efficiency and its likes – meaning that the mere arrangement of this Child’s society is also educating the Child. For this reason “less work” is needed to be done in School when educating this Child (relative to Children in certain parts of the world) because the sheer nature of the environment the Child lives in substantially augments the Child’s education albeit indirectly. Now let us envision the after school life of an average Child in (let’s say) Nigeria. I’ll leave you to your imagination to figure that one out.
Because of where we are, we have to work harder if we are to meet up and move ahead of other societies in technological advancements (That is except we have given up on ourselves). Western countries can ‘existentially’ afford to move slowly when implementing the inevitable dominance of technology in education because outside of School, their Children largely interact with a technologically advanced society which means their Children are invariably exposed to a setting that fosters digital literacy which in turn fosters technological innovation and creativity based thinking in the mind of their Children. Most African societies, on the other hand, do not have that same luxury, and for this reason it is imperative that we create academic systems that creates a positive contrast to the mentally unpalatable realities they envision outside school via the societal structure of their environment. We need to use the outlet education offers to embed images of order, efficiency, love, productivity, courage, innovation, possibility and hope in the minds of our Children because the best way to show that a stick is crooked is by placing a straight stick beside it.
This is to say that we are, through the integration of technology in classrooms, showing our Children how our society can function. By digitizing our timetable and prioritising time-management, we are training our Children to dispose of the deadly african time syndrome. By integrating programming and robotics in our academic system, we are making our Children think more analytically and critically than any analogue teaching method can inspire. By integrating technology into our education we are teaching and positioning our Children to create the realities they want to see here – against leaving the country when they become highly skilled which is the root cause of the massive brain drain that Nigeria is currently experiencing as a Country. By integrating technology in our Academy, we are teaching our Children to learn to solve their problems through the use of technology which will enhance our technological advancement as a society on a native and consequentially sustainable level.
In summary, the effects that infusing technology into education has on the mind of Children and the developing world is largely similar to the effect the Advent of electricity had on the mind of Children and societies in its early days. That is, the effect that made Continents light up from outer space, and the effect that is calcifying the term ascribed to a continent; the title of “The Dark Continent.”