New technologies in education
For more than 50 years now, technology has developed under Moore’s law and its rapid development has led to major changes in all spheres of life and education. We live in a time where we are bombarded with various news and information and are influenced by other people on social media. I think the best example for this is one headline from 2018: “In One Tweet, Kylie Jenner Wiped Out $1.3 Billion of Snap’s Market Value”.
I often hear my colleagues with questions such as “How to motivate students to attend classes and be active when all information can be found on the web?” or “What value can professors add to their lecture?” The way of learning and acquiring new knowledge is drastically changing. Before, a professor had an authority over students and was the only source of new knowledge. Today, the new generation is growing up with new technologies; students are saturated with all available information on the Internet, creating the effect which is known as “information overload”. On the other hand, students need to filter and distinguish necessary data and information from unnecessary in order to find the right answer or solution to a certain problem or situation. This is important for the new generation to developing critical thinking and research skills along the way. Professors role has also changed over time, as they grasp a new role of a mentor or tutor, meaning it is crucial for professors to adapt to the new trends accordingly. I remember my favorite professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, who was an excellent professor, but in a classical way of lecturing with boards and chalks. When I was his assistant, young and ready for new knowledge, challenges and technologies, I created his first digital presentation, PowerPoint. It was funny because he had no experience in this way of teaching. Lets just say his usual 3 hour lectures cut short to 1 hour as he was rushing through the slides with a remote control faster than Usain Bolt on a track. However, on the same course, another professor made use of all the advantages of new technologies. He introduced simulations in Matlab to us and we were amazed how we could see, for example, a slight change of the damping factor in the differential equation of the second order or the moment when the system passes from stable to unstable state in real-time. This was the same lecture with completely different outcomes, and with such a lecture students began to adore differential equations, something nobody believed it was possible at that time J
I am lucky that the management of ZSEM has recognized the importance of technological innovations in education and those related to quality management such as AACSB accreditation. Since the establishment in 2002, e-learning has been systematically used in teaching. First it was good old WebCT, an LMS (Learning Management System) developed at the University of British Columbia, after which came Blackboard and then Moodle. As we used LMS from the beginning, it was easy for professors and students to implement and adapt to new LMS. In order to measure the quality of developed e-learning courses in 2008, we developed the standards presented at the EISTA Conference in Orlando . Wherever I’ve been presenting e-learning research around the world, I’ve always commented on how fortunate our administration is as we recognized the importance of systematical introduction of e-learning in teaching. Without proper management support, everything remains in the field of enthusiasm of individual professors.
An important part of each e-learning system is also online discussion, and it is interesting to keep track of how student activity has changed in discussions over the last 10 years. However, every year students interest in writing is falling drastically, modeling to social networks trends as the posts also became shorter and closer to “speaking” way of communication. Their discussions use various elements of Netspeak such as emoticons, acronyms, omits the space after punctuation, everything is in a lowercase and so on. Already in 2011, Netspeak terminology such as OMG and LOL became an integral part of the Oxford dictionary.
Students are crammed with information from all sides and professors are always eager to keep their attention, but it’s not an easy task. On the other hand, we know that the new generation of playing video games has an overwhelming skill of retaining their concentration for hours. For this reason, gamification has become a very popular way of learning today and is a step up for education in the future. As soon as I enter the classroom, I hear students say “Prof, are we playing Kahoot today?”. Kahoot is only one tool out of many which have this effect with students. Research shows that different generations are equally motivated to learn through gamification, however, younger students have more expressed extrinsic motivation than older students, which have more of an intrinsic motivation. Basically, younger students are appealed by gamification if they are rewarded for their score, while older students are simply satisfied with the gained knowledge, but in a positive and fun atmosphere.
There are great expectations from artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). My favorite mobile game, Pokemon GO, had an insane search volume on Google in 2016; the search peak was almost as Donald Trump was searched and discussed during the US Presidency election during that time. It’s my favorite game because I’ve walked over 80 km with my Dragonair in only 7 days and to tell you the truth, I don’t believe that there was any game that could make you walk more than 1 km 🙂
Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine a life without IT innovations that did not exist or were at the beginning just 10 years ago, like Uber, Airbnb, Instagram, Whatsapp, Influenza, Drowns… In front of us is the 4th Industrial Revolution, and expectations are that the near future brings many new interesting professions that do not exist today or are in the development such as genetic designers, avatar managers, time sellers, intelligent clothing designers etc. It is important for students to learn a systematic way of thinking and concluding, to think critically, we need to teach them how to link theory with practice, how to work in a diversified group, how to adapt to rapid changes, lifelong learning, and of course to incorporate them with ethical values. With all of this in mind, I believe that the students will know how to adapt to all the challenges that await in the future, and I believe that the time will come when I will be able to surf on Hawaii while my clone robot KAMF73 teaches students new technologies. 🙂
“In the Industrial Age, we went to school.
In the Communication Age, school will come to us.”
(Distance Learning Cyberstation)
Author: Karmela Aleksić Maslać