Emerging technologies likely to have a major impact on teaching/learning process

By Harish Sanduja

The impact of advancements in technology and tools like internet was hitherto restricted in education; the focus was more on face to face teaching, a concept that we have become accustomed to and is taken as the norm in teaching/learning environments. However, the Coronovirus pandemic has changed that notion completely.

Emerging technologies with promising potential are being resorted to in a bid to ensure that the teaching and learning does not get hampered in the context of a forced lockdown and shutting down ofeducational institutions to keep all stakeholders safe.

So, what are the emerging technologies likely to have a major impact on how teaching and learning would be carried out in the foreseeable future?

Some of the technologies that have been and will revolutionize the classrooms of the future are mobile AR, VR, voice technologies, AI-powered education platforms. These are tools and concepts that are engaging, transformative and used to improve learning, instruction, social processes, and interconnectedness amongst students and teachers.

Their relevance increases today when almost 90 percent of learners are sitting at home and carrying on from there.

Emerging Technologies that are here to stay

Augmented reality has been around for some time now and is expected to capture the imagination of students and improve the learning process.  Adaptive learning, will provide customized resources to suit every students’ need in a short time. Artificial Intelligence will be supporting first-person perspectives and help students in creating compelling research papers and term papers.  5G technologies would provide quick download of student files and resources and deliver more engaging virtual reality experiences. Automation can be used to digitally schedule lectures at specific times. It would also aid in the adoption of AI in the classrooms.

Competency based education would match learning activities of students with their abilities and help advance the learning experience based on the ability to master a skill.  Learning Analytics would allow teachers to keep a better track of the learning behaviours of their students. They can then use these facts to provide targeted improvement to courses.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, the role of the emerging technologies is set to expand; educators and policy makers would need to watch out for these trends and obtain special insights on how they can make the best out of their usage. As a matter of fact, the pandemic situation that we find ourselves in today have opened our eyes to the potential of these technologies, where the existing ways of teaching and learning were notserving the 21st century purposes of education.

There are few impediments to the adoption of technology in educational institutions though.

Cost: Many technologies are cost prohibitive and the schools may not have the resources to invest in the same.

Lack of training: Teachers would need proper training to harness cutting-edge technology in the education initiatives to witness positive results; adoption of new technology would often be accompanied with a steep learning curve.

Insufficient Infrastructure: Lack of internet access would limit the use of technologies relying on the same and come in the way of their adoption. Moreover, many students, from rural areas and lower socio-economic strata, do not have access to smartphones, wi-fi connectivity, and internet access that are a must to adopt a new style of classrooms and pedagogy focused on mobile learning.

Policy makers would need to work towards removing these impediments and open up the use of technology to inspire students to think and collaborate instead of memorizing as well as connect with peers and experts who may not be physically present at a particular location. The successful implementation of technological innovations would help students imbibe 21st century skills that they would need to succeed in the modern workforce. Incorporation of technology would open up new avenues such as virtual field trips, electronic textbooks, and valuable online resources and help schools save money in the long run while also facilitating amazing educational experiences for learners.

Is cyber risk having a greater impact on children’s well-being?

UNESCO reports that 50% of children around the world whose schools have closed do not have access to a computer, so of course there is a huge digital divide. But among those who do, we see an extreme spike of cyber risks.

According to the Child Online Safety Index, around 60% of 8- to 12-year-olds are exposed to cyber risk, including cyber bullying, gaming disorder, online sexual behaviour or reputational risk, fake news and others. Risk doesn’t mean harm, but it’s a huge number of children having a negative experience online.

In today’s time, it is critically important to teach children holistically about digital citizenship as cyber risks – whether it’s cyberbullying, gaming addiction or online grooming – are all interconnected. Digital citizenship refers to the responsible use of technology by anyone who uses computers, the Internet, and digital devices to engage with society on any level.

COVID-19 is making the potential exposure to cyber risk greater, but it’s not necessarily a causal effect. Causal effects of cyber risk are lack of knowledge, lack of discipline, uncontrolled digital use.If we want our children to be independent thinkers, to discern the risks and to make the right decisions online, we need to empower them with digital citizenship.

(Author is Member Academic Council, Saamarthya Teachers Training Academy of Research (STTAR), Ghaziabad.)