Technology and Education: Working in Harmony?
With the suggestion that Apple is creating a new tool that will allow publishers to make an e-book version of their textbooks, as easily as creating a playlist on their iPod, there is no doubt that technology is becoming the future of education.
It would certainly be easier for children to carry around an iPad, with all of their books and school resources combined in one, than to lug several dusty textbooks in order to find one chapter useful within it.
iPads and Classrooms
It may even be cheaper to furnish children with an iPad, and do away with pricey hardbacks. The myriad of educational apps, ranging from grammar and maths assistance, to anatomy and language development, make learning a little more interesting.
There is no denying the logic, and excitement, that technology brings to a classroom. But with books becoming more and more obsolete, will we be missing something of the old ways if they disappear completely?
Traditional Learning Methods
Libraries were once almost as recognized in a town as the local church. They offered a safe, solid haven in a busy world, a meeting place for people of a similar mind, and even recently, a chance to discover a book you might never have considered on Amazon. Libraries offer the luxury of reading a few chapters, undisturbed, among its tranquil shelves- as yet Amazon haven’t come up with a digital version, but if they gave it a try, it would certainly be interesting to behold.
Now libraries are under threat. With news that more and more are being forced to close every day due to lack of investment, and the uproar this has caused among town residents, there is no denying that libraries are still an important part of the community, and books, as cumbersome as they may be to some, still have their uses.
The History of Education
We take education for granted in a world where without it, even the meanest of jobs are out of reach. In the early nineteenth century, schooling was a private affair. It wasn’t until the early twentieth century that schooling was available to every child, across the country. Come the nineteenth century textbooks were available in schools, but with very limited choice. Even today, some schools do not have the chance to choose from a wide range of educational materials, but must take what they can get.
The Value of Technology in the Classroom
That is not to say that the technological advances in education, and an increase in interaction with educational materials, do not have their merits. Kindle users are already able to take out eBooks on loan from most libraries, with the option to buy it if they wish. Some publishers have made their eBooks available to libraries: all of which has given the library a new, technological, lease of life.
Consider today’s educational spectrum. Now there is choice to go to school, to get help from a private tutor, to be home schooled, and now, to be educated through online learning. Flexible education is upon us, and technology is the instrument that has largely provided these options.
However, it goes without saying that there would be no fun in having a digital teacher, they enrich the learning process with unique insight, I’m not sure there will be an app sophisticated enough to replace a human teacher, and so somewhere, the technological line must be drawn.
Technology for Distracted Learners
For the child who finds a classroom distracting, or finds it difficult to interact, technological resources are a lifeline in a strange and confusing world. The important thing to mention about online learning: there is still a teacher at the other end of the computer, there to help the child with any problems they may be having. Online learning is not necessarily the end of interaction. There are still workshops that can be attended to tackle specific problems, and a real sense that help is there if needed.
For the time being, there is still the chance to buy a book, and teachers have not been replaced with digital counterparts. Without libraries, obscure authors will not be discovered in the far corners of the shelves. Despite the wonderful possibilities eBooks can bring to education, don’t forget the wonderful joy of turning paper pages, as you hurry to discover the conclusion to a gripping novel you discovered in the library.
If indeed Apple is bringing about textbook-friendly technology, it will bring with it even more exciting developments in education. But in the midst of the technological revolution, let’s hope libraries do not become a casualty.
Tina Perry has been writing on a freelance basis for over five years. She began her career providing informational booklets for drug abuse treatment programs and has since developed a keen interest in educational work. She specialises in education and technology and how the two can be combined.