Education gets smart
The way that learners acquire knowledge is changing, and technology is playing an increasingly integral role.
Today’s learners have grown up with technology at their fingertips. They can swipe before they can walk. Which is why it makes sense that the way that they learn has also evolved. The integration of technology into classrooms helps learners interact with the subject matter in the same way that they would interact with an online game or a social media site. Since they are the country’s future leaders, it’s vital that they receive a solid educational foundation, which requires that they be allowed to learn in ways that engage them. Technology is able to do that.
Mark Taylor, CEO of Nashua, says: “Using technology to educate learners doesn’t necessarily mean that every learner has to have access to a device and Internet connectivity. There are other ways to bring technology into the learning environment.”
Regardless of whether the education institution is a rural school, a government school, a private school or even a tertiary institution, it needs to implement some degree of technology not only to engage the learners, but also to support the educators in conveying subject material to the learners. Having access to technology at school level also helps prepare the learners for the world of work.
Various kinds of technology are routinely being implemented in education, ranging from educational aids like interactive whiteboards and computers, to multifunctional devices and connectivity solutions, to technology that keeps the school and its occupants secure.
A technology that is having a significant impact on the way that content is delivered to learners is the interactive whiteboard, which is essentially a large, interactive display screen that can connect to a PC or projector. Information is easily analysed, shared, modified and stored. Not only can you write on interactive whiteboards, but you can also erase, edit, save, print and share the content on the board, as well as record audio. It’s also possible to project images onto the whiteboard and write over them to highlight points made in the lesson. Then the amended visual can be saved and either printed out or shared electronically with learners.
Farewell to the chalkboard of old. Another benefit is that you can have highly qualified teachers share their classes via the Internet, giving underprivileged schools an opportunity to get access to first-class educators.
Taylor says: “The most important thing is that the interactive whiteboard makes the learning process fun and increases the engagement level between students and teachers.”
Access to a computer room and Internet connectivity not only enables learners to familiarise themselves with technology, but it also allows them to participate in online learning, freeing the educator to focus on learners who need one-on-one assistance. It also means that learners can move through the study material at their own pace. Naturally, this requires Internet access and, where possible, learning institutions will benefit from access to a wireless fibre link for data, as opposed to ADSL.
Once the school has access to WiFi, it can acquire a PABX solution that allows it to make phone calls over the Internet, which is more cost-effective than using cellphones or landlines. It also enables learning institutions with more than one branch to form a closed user group, enabling more cost-effective and seamless internal branch communication.
Last but not least, technology is playing an increasingly vital role in keeping places of learning secure in an increasingly crime-ridden world. Surveillance and security are very important aspects as the safety of learners is a top priority for any educational institution. “Security measures can include CCTV systems that cover all the identified security risk points, and even audio cameras in the classrooms for additional security,” says Taylor.
Parents can register to access the schools via biometrics access and facial recognition, preventing any unwanted people from entering the schools. Parents are also able to monitor their children in the classrooms.
While all of the above may seem beyond the reach of the average school from a financial point of view, Taylor says that rental options allow the school to invest in technology without taking lump sums of cash out of their yearly allocation.