Technology and Education in the New Era

Computers and the internet have become powerful tools for improving the way we do almost everything, from communication to entertainment and, perhaps most importantly, education.

In literacy, for example, there are many ways in which technology has changed how we learn to read and write, but here are some of the most compelling to consider:

Ed-TechDigital Literacy

 

In the past, a student could show up to kindergarten knowing their ABCs and more or less be fine. However, in today’s world, students are not only expected to be able to read at a much younger age but to be able to use computers, tablets, phones, and more to be effective people in today’s society. Failing to do so will make it much more difficult for kids to succeed in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing digital world.2

A Multimedia Approach

 

Multimedia allows educators to incorporate functionalities such as audios, videos, graphics, animations, etc., in the learning process to make the teaching/learning more effective and meaningful.

Nowadays, you can find a wide offer of Apps and software to play an audio recording of a story, and children can follow along on their screen much like they would if someone was reading to them. Technology has also made students more able to interact with what they read. Tablets and other touch-screen devices allow kids to circle words, highlight them and tap on them to hear the correct pronunciation.

Technology has helped us learn literacy more holistically way. But this does not come without challenges. Left to their own devices, kids may become overly-dependent on a form of literacy learning that is not giving them everything they need. For example, more access to audio recordings might stop kids from reading in the traditional way.

More Individualized Lessons

 

We all learn at different speeds and in different ways. Being able to read, or listen to texts at their own speed allows kids to address their issues at their own pace, helping to make literacy learning more effective.3

Fortunately, technology offers resources for different learning styles. For example, while many kids are visual learners and can learn literacy skills by seeing words and working out their sounds, many other kids are auditory learners, meaning they learn better by listening.

The job of educators now is to identify more accurately the specific needs of a child and direct them towards the technology that will most help them succeed.

Faster Progress

 

In some cases, technology has helped students learn literacy skills faster than they have in the past. The interactive nature of the technology allows them to get help more quickly than ever before.

One example of this is the predictive text technology. This will suggest children different words to use in sentences they have written facilitating the learning of new words. Furthermore, students can hear the pronunciation of these words, which exposes them to new sounds, something that will expand their vocabulary and make them overall more literate.

Another example is speech recognition technology5. Students can read a text and record it. The technology can then go through and evaluate how well the student has done, and it can bring issues to their attention, allowing the student to identify what they need to improve and practice more on it.

Uganda Sunbook ImageThe New Challenge

 

Nevertheless, a study conducted by Leah Fox from the State University of New York6 has found that a child’s success using technology to learn literacy depends heavily on how prepared they are to operate in a digital environment.

This reality leads us to a new challenge; the digital divide. There is a gap between the underprivileged members of society and the wealthy, middle-class individuals that have access to technology.

 

Overcoming the digital divide

 

Organizations such as the World Literacy Foundation are implementing initiatives to close the digital gap between disadvantaged children and their wealthier peers. With Sun Books tablets, they aim to enhance the education of children in off-the-grid communities by providing tablets preloaded with educational content and eBooks. To support them, you can donate here www.sunbooks.org

 

Written by: Graham Salwell