Connected technologies, from more common devices like smartphones to obscure examples like smart locks, are revolutionising the way we live and work in many different ways. But can it also transform the way we learn?
As humans, we spend an awful lot of time learning. There’s no doubt that before you entered your adult life and career, you went through years of schooling. In most countries, this process is lengthy, and sometimes it can also be old-fashioned.
While you can’t rule out dusty textbooks out completely, internet-connected technology is achieving great things in schools, colleges and universities right around the world. They’re resulting in more interactive, engaging and insightful lessons.
Digital forward learning
Most students own smartphones, and there’s already a diverse selection of educational apps out there. Kortext, which is the UK’s largest digital textbook provider, is a good example. The company is currently working with over 40 British universities to transform their teaching practices.
Andy Alferovs, managing director of Kortext, says university students are well used to the latest technology so it makes sense for universities to implement digital strategies when it comes to their learning.
“University students are ‘digital natives’ who are accustomed to the latest technology, conducting their everyday lives through smartphones and tablets.This new generation of millennials is expecting a more connected learning experience as they approach university,” he says.
“And with the continuing rise in tuition fees, it’s understandable that students are expecting more value for money. In response to this need, some universities are leading the way by adopting the latest edtech and providing students with all of their core textbooks in digital format, as part of their fees.
“Not only does this offer students better value for money, but a digital learning platform can make learning more efficient and enable flexible ways of working from anywhere, anytime on any device. Lecturers can also use learning analytics to oversee how students are engaging with their course reading in real-time.”
A key enabler
Canvas is another exciting digital learning company. It has created an app for students that lets them organise and keep on top of their work. Kenny Nicholl, director of the firm, says the Internet of Things is becoming a key enabler in education.
‘IoT is set to change the educational landscape for the better by enabling equal access for everyone. By connecting people with resources from around the globe, no longer will access to quality of information, or teaching, rely on physical proximity,” he says.
“IoT or connected learning bring the opportunity for students to have a more interactive relationship with course material, and access and learn from data about their own progress. Assessments can become less manual and time-intensive.
“And Instead of spending hours grading multiple choice tests or assignments, teachers can dedicate their time to curriculum planning, one-to-one assistance and other more impactful activities. Connected applications can allow students to work at their own pace through a course, which increases both satisfaction and course completion rates.”
Learn from anywhere
Technology no longer has to be confined within four walls either. Using mobile devices and apps, students can learn from any location and at their convenience. Hubert Da Costa, VP for EMEA at IoT firm Cradlepoint, says: “The IoT is enabling schools, colleges and universities to turn any location into a mobile classroom as consistent network connectivity has irreversibly shifted from luxury to necessity.
“Some schools are creating a smart solution for students who do not have WiFi when outside of the school walls. For instance, in school-related activities such as sports competitions, debating tournaments and field trips. Others are adding WiFi to activity buses to ensure that students can still have access to instructional materials and online resources while in transit.
“Additionally, students and teachers are using connectivity from a coach or bus as a resource during field trips. Students are able to look up information about animals or plants while visiting a nature centre or watch videos about the history behind an important monument they are touring.”
Although there’ll always be people who oppose new technology, most teaching professionals and learning organisations are adopting it in a bid to transform teaching. Connected devices not only bode for a more interactive learning experience, but they’re also making education more accessible and convenient.