From keeping businesses afloat to communicating with friends and family across continents, technology has improved various aspects of society – including education. Technology has played a particularly important role in education over the last couple of years, as schools across the nation have pivoted to hybrid and remote learning.
But rather than just using technology as an alternative to classroom learning, there are many ways that educators can integrate technology into their current curriculum and harness it as a powerful educational tool. Here are five ways technology can (and currently does) improve academics.
1. Online Scholarship Platforms
As college tuition rates continue to rise year after year, it’s becoming increasingly harder for students to afford an undergraduate education. According to a 2010 Trends in College report by College Board, public four-year tuition and fees have increased more than 5% annually above inflation since 2000. That’s where scholarships come in.
Scholarships provide an opportunity for many students to earn a higher education. Without assistance from an outside source, students may have trouble earning the degree they need to enter their desired field. Online scholarship platforms have made applying for scholarships more accessible than ever. Whether you are a woman in STEM or a child of a parent in the military, there are particular scholarships geared towards all sorts of communities and demographics. Better yet, some of these online platforms offer easy scholarships that can be applied for in a matter of minutes. These easy scholarships allow students to get the financial assistance they need for school, without sacrificing the time they need to dedicate to their studies and other commitments.
2. Classes Over Zoom
In this post-pandemic world, an increasing number of educators have relied on teaching classes over Zoom. Zoom is one of the many ways that technology is improving education. And while virtual learning certainly has its drawbacks, it also has numerous benefits. Virtual classrooms are accessible to any child that has access to a computer and a secure internet connection. This means that students also have access to online resources and class materials at any time of day, all year long. Virtual learning has been especially advantageous for parents with younger children. Whether a parent has fallen ill or is picking up extra shifts to meet ends meet, virtual lessons mean they don’t need to deal with the hassle of driving their child to and from school.
Many parents have also opened up about the positive impact that virtual learning has had on their more introverted children. Shy children often find that it’s easier to participate in a virtual classroom compared to raising their hand in a classroom environment.
3. Online Group Collaboration
Whether you are in 5th grade or a college-level course, most students are tasked with group projects. One of the most difficult things about a group assignment? Finding a way to meet with your fellow group members.
Whether you live in another town or don’t have access to public transportation, physically meeting up with a group can be a challenge for many students. Thankfully, with the internet, students don’t have to get together in person if it’s impossible to do. By simply hopping on a video call, students can problem solve and collaborate on any homework assignment, whether it’s a problem set, a presentation, or a group essay. Online platforms such as Slack or Zoom don’t just allow you to talk to one another, they also allow you to share documents and notes with one another. Students can drop files into a chat, or even share their screen as a visual aid.
More often than not, online group collaboration is a more convenient and equally effective method for students to collaborate on assignments.
4. Further Research Opportunities
Once upon a time, students needed to go to the library, find a book, and scan through hundreds of pages in order to find the answers they were looking for. Now, students can access information by simply clicking a button.
While many people rely on Google as their primary search engine, there are so many other online research platforms and databases that students can take advantage of. While Google is great if you have a quick question you need answering, you are also likely to end up with a handful of clickbait articles and Wikipedia pages. The results that turn up will be not as suited for academics looking for credible sources.
Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic, Refseek, Infotopia, and Wolfram Alpha, are some of the many scholarly search engines and databases that students should bookmark. Some search engines are specifically geared towards certain subjects or fields. For instance, PubMed is perfect for those studying anything related to healthcare or science.
5. Online Tutoring
Even if you are receiving help from a top-notch teacher, it can be easy for students to fall behind in class. Whether a student is struggling with a tricky subject like math or looking to gain confidence in the classroom, online tutoring is a great solution.
There are many advantages that online tutoring has over in-person tutoring. Many students are juggling after-school jobs, extracurricular activities, and hefty course loads, which makes it hard to squeeze tutoring into their busy schedules. While a standing weekly tutoring lesson can be helpful for some students, for others it’s a waste of time. That’s where virtual tutoring comes in. Virtual tutoring gives students the flexibility to receive help anytime, anywhere, whether you are working remotely from your boat or a neighborhood cafe. If a student has an upcoming test or difficult homework assignment they need help with, they can schedule a tutoring session when it best suits them.
Virtual tutoring is also advantageous when you are struggling to find a tutor for a more niche subject, such as IB math or linear algebra. Virtual tutoring grants you access to experts all over the world who specialize in your subject of interest.
As we adjust to a post-pandemic world, it’s becoming more and more important to embrace technology and all that it has to offer. While many teachers and students miss being in a traditional classroom, there are many powerful learning possibilities and teaching strategies that are now feasible, thanks to technology. From online scholarship platforms to virtual tutoring, there are many ways that we can use technology to enhance and improve the world of academics.