It's not surprising news that we are progressively moving forward in our use and development of new technologies. Virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence are improving at a rapid pace and growing in usage. With these advances what needs to be considered is the effect this may have on education.
Currently, there is one computer per five students in most public schools. Standardized tests are being taken on computers more often than ever before. Our children are surrounded with tablets and smartphones even before they can walk and talk. We are living in a technical age.
There’s an amazing virtual reality app called The Dream Cube that makes your virtual perspective seamless as you move from view to view. Imagine that in a classroom and how it can open a student’s world. Exciting and yet it creates a need for education to catch up with the speed of technology.
There are many layers to this: we have to take into consideration students individual learning styles, their age, and their economic status. Technological advances are great and necessary, but how can we get them into current educational settings? It's been statistically proven that too much screen time is detrimental to young children and how they approach learning. However, in the case of older students, college and graduate level, and occasionally the high school and junior high school level, technology can be an asset to the field of teaching and learning. Students who learn better at unconventional times of day and outside of the rigid traditional school schedule may benefit from a student portal that they can access at any time. Consider if visual learners could experience a more sensory specific mode of learning. This is all intriguing but leads to certain challenges that need to be addressed in the field of education.
Education is a business. Which simply means money matters. How will a student from a low-income family access all of these gadgets? How will an underperforming school get a budget approval to purchase these technical capabilities? With an average of one computer per five students, how would you even set a plan for teaching a class that fully utilizes technology? Would we only be widening the achievement gap? Teacher training is key and would be essential to helping technology get a foothold in education, but what is the shape and scope of such training?
There are many questions that can be put forth, I am optimistic that the same people making advances in technology will be the same ones helping educators make a place for it in schools.
Bethany Austin-Billini is a twin mom, wife, poet and former educator based in Brooklyn, NY. She currently works as a freelance writer.