Primary, secondary and higher education have been digitalizing for some time. While technology has already changed teaching and learning, it remains to be seen how far artificial intelligence will infiltrate the classroom. Technology plays a key role teaching students the STEM skills today’s job market is demanding.

Digitalized education is dividing opinion in a Fourth Industrial Revolution that requires teachers to rely more on mobile and interactive devices. Advocates of new technology in education value the greater motivation and personalized learning it encourages in the classroom. However, doubters argue it undermines critical thinking and creativity and widens a digital divide accentuated by the cost of electronic devices.

Technology in the classroom

Education centres have been turning to digital apps and virtual platforms in recent times. New technologies will continue to emerge, bringing about changes in teacher training and lesson planning with new, interactive experiences and skills, and one-on-one teaching in the classroom and online, to better prepare students for the demands of the job market. Digitalization in education will also help us adapt content, come up with new ways of testing, use statistical data monitoring tools and bring other methods to tomorrow’s classroom.

83% of the teachers surveyed in BlinkLearning’s 6th Global Survey on the use of technology in education said they use digital tools every day in class. The Survey found that digital tools make for fluid and uninterrupted communication, as well as a personalized learning experience. Though information and communication technology (ICT) doesn’t automatically translate into better grades, it does lead to greater autonomy, motivation and mastery of technology.

New technology can open up digital experiences that enhance interaction and problem-solving. Educational technology (or “ed-tech”) enables centres to benefit from cloud-based services and apps that digitalize and store information in one place so teachers and students can share things quickly and make things easier.

End of the road for textbooks?

Tablets and e-blackboards don’t have to spell the end for printed books. In fact, they can be used in tandem. While it might be easier to check information on an electronic device, printed books could still be ideal to teach reading.

However, education centres continue to fill lessons with new digital means, like tablets and electronic files, rendering books as mere ancillary resources.

Another teaching format is the "flipped classroom", where students do their reading lessons at home with audiovisual tools on electronic devices. At school, teachers then facilitate debates, ask questions and share ideas with them about what they’ve read.

More educators are swapping textbooks for digital resources as a primary teaching tool, in the belief that, for students, going digital translates into learning more, getting them to think more criticallyopening their minds, and nurturing their creativity.

Technology and STEM

Innovative education hinges on a growing demand for new expertise in the job market. Because of digitalization, people are seeking to learn digital skills to master data management and other tech-related fields that are high in demand. The digital revolution is creating a greater market need for science, tech, engineering and maths (STEM) courses. Thus, the challenge for educators is how to embed STEM in their lessons.

According to the OECD’s Future of Education and Skills 2030 initiative, “We … need to replace old education standards still in general use with an educational framework that combines the acquisition of traditional knowledge with the 21st century skills of creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration”.

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