Technology changing face of classroom

OPINION By KELVIN DAVIS (Kelvin Davis is the director or Greymouse, a cloud service-provider that supplies high quality, time-bound and cost-efficient services through its own facility in Fiji.) Web-based technology
22 Jul 2013 10:57



(Kelvin Davis is the director or Greymouse, a cloud service-provider that supplies high quality, time-bound and cost-efficient services through its own facility in Fiji.)

Web-based technology has opened up education around the world to the point where anyone can learn anything from anywhere.
Technology has definitely caught up with educational theories and teaching machines have not only well and truly arrived, they are also here to stay.
North Kenwood-Oakland is a small South Side Chicago school with 40 children aged between five and six who each have a computer and are actually learning from it via software called Reading Eggs.
With this programme:

  • Some students are building sentences with words they are learning;
  • The rest are reading a short story; and
  • The slow learners are actually enjoying themselves by catching all the upper and lower cases of the alphabet B that fly past in the sky on their computer screen.

The real face of education
The educational landscape has been changing constantly as over the course of the 20th century.
Mass education has produced populations more literate, numerate and productive than any the world has seen before.
This simply means that existing education systems must make changes to accommodate the wave of this “special time”.
Choosing not to not do so would be detrimental for the student as it goes a long way in preparing the child’s mentality to accepting and adapting to the realities of the big ‘tech savvy’ world outside the confinements of the classroom walls.

Teaching using the blend of software and human intervention actually has some proven advantages:

  • Allows teachers more time to actually teach, rather than spending most of it on marking written work and guiding students through the usual boring routine of words and numbers;
  • The schools gain an accurate and continuous record of each child’s performance through the data its various programs collects and analyses;
  • The same data also allows continual assessment of the child’s abilities and shortcomings, thus allowing the schools, teachers and parents to better understand both the pupil and the way children learn;
  • Improves student efficiency and engagement span; and
  • Both student and teacher are enhancing their skills on the use of the computer. http://tinyurl.com/economist-technology-schools

The newest technology to enter the education arena is the interactive whiteboard or SMART Board.
It combines multimedia functions with internet access and offers educational, interactive programmes for teachers and students.
Yet the pitfalls of too much technology are also on the rise:

  • The temptation to browse is always huge and this results in students being exposed to inappropriate materials;
  • Cyber bullying and threats of sexual predators;
  • The temptation to plagiarise is even much greater and the student is prevented from thinking and constructing answers and study materials by himself;
  • Can we really trust corporations to have ours and our student’s best interests at heart? Rarely is that the case, they are profit driven entities and will find ways to leverage our information for their gain. It’s a historic pattern that keeps repeating itself; and
  • The cost – both in outfitting the school and training students & teachers in the use of new technologies


What of learning future?
Current education trends confirm that in 20 years time, the current education landscape will be nothing like what it is now. Both educators and parents must prepare themselves for these inevitable technological learning changes.

  • Learning needs to be both engaging and empowering for the learners;
  • Students need to be given the ability to create their own learning; and
  • Education needs to foster a DIY (do it yourself) approach to learning facilitated by teachers.

The exponential changes currently seen with mobile devices, apps, and online services, suggests that education will not survive long in its default or traditional configuration.
We need to consider the implications carefully since education systems are meant to “create” the next generation.
Will our Fijian education system and educators be able to make the shift to a student owned learning model in thoughtful and caring ways?
Is the current Fijian education curriculum bold enough to accept the inevitable changes that it must prepare for now or will it prefer to be stuck with the old label of a “developing country system”?

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