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How Technology and Trends Affect Education

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The world we live in is constantly changing, and every person must to some extent adapt to these changes. Education both helps to bring about the constant changes, and helps the individual to adapt.

Educators must stay abreast of the changes in society and technology, and engage their students with this constantly changing world if they are to really engage their students if they are to create an effective learning environment.

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Computer technology and the internet have almost certainly the biggest change over the last two generations. Students now have access to incredible amounts of material for any subject they can think of. This benefits research and allows many opportunities for distant online learning that would have been impossible a generation ago.

But there are some drawbacks. Students may neglect soft skills such as learning in groups and engaging with fellow students. Our interactions on Skype or chatrooms are different to how we once interacted in personal conversations. Furthermore, typing skills are taken for granted, but handwriting often suffers. This can make written exams difficult, even if the student is capable.

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The attention span of students has changed with modern technology. While engaging subjects often keep our attention, we can get very involved in an interesting video or computer game, a less engaging form of education is quickly tuned out. Research has shown that attention spans of the last generation has gone from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. Children are used to stimulating technology, and quickly tune out if the stimulation is not there.

This can at least partly be rectified by the form of the education. Modern students (millennials) show increased concentration for a stimulating presentation (videos with graphics, perhaps PowerPoint presentations, or anything interactive), but far less for a public speaker or teacher in front of a class. Hopefully we can educate all subjects with stimulating presentations followed by group discussions.

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While some career paths can rely on solid education that remains relevant for a lifetime more careers will require constant relearning for an individual to remain current. This is not entirely new, as the world has always been changing. But is means we need an approach that emphasises how to constantly learn and not just rely on information taught in the past. So self-teaching will be the new normal.

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Education that develops the individual person and helps them to be part of an every changing society is the ongoing goal. This is more than learning, this is engaging with life.

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