The web and mobile connectivity have been undisputable agents of change across a range of industries, bringing our global economy closer together and providing opportunity for business to thrive where it would previously be impossible. In the education sector, most notably, mobile connectivity, web 2.0 capabilities, and smart software are the catalysts for making quality education available to eager students who may not have access to it otherwise.
The availability of online learning and tools for ever younger students is becoming a new focus today as we realize how dependent our world really is on the skills honed through electronic communication, social media, and abbreviated calculations of how our world works. Tools that build critical thinking through games, encourage collaboration and provide real-time assessment and remediation have become a secret weapon for many schools in helping to prepare their students for the real world.
Students’ formative high school years - especially critical - provide teachers with an opportunity for instilling college and career readiness, an inclination critical to success in any post-graduate environment. Exposure to the unique requirements of online coursework, most notably independent study and virtual collaboration, provide students with experience in developing self-motivation. Students learn time management, prioritization and – despite misconceptions about online learning – practice community building more in tune with today’s actual professional environments.
Distance learning is one specific example of an innovation helping many countries bring education to students who otherwise may not have access to the traditional campus. Modern technologies such as lecture capture systems and e-textbooks aid distance learning and make it easier to more broadly share and expand the knowledge base. In times of crisis, distance learning and online coursework has helped keep students stay on track with their schooling under circumstances beyond their control.
However, the technology alone cannot improve our global education system. The core to universally raising the standards of education advancements starts with the instructor. They are responsible for keeping students properly engaged and challenged throughout their schooling careers. One attribute the U.S. can learn from its global counterparts is to raise the status of the teaching profession overall and provide more professional development for teachers. The profession as a whole needs to be held at a higher level of respect and regard in order to develop exceptional teachers.
Changing classroom teaching techniques to adapt to today’s digital world will also improve the learning experience for students. The development of high-tech learning applications and digital content delivery has transformed the learning platform by allowing more students access to lectures and materials. For successful 21st Century learning, classrooms need to embrace the power of data to create learning paths that will help shape students and prepare them for the digitally driven world. There are countless tools now helping to unify and bridge the learning gap by using adaptive learning, assessment, and interactivity.
The adoption of various technologies in the classroom is so vital for students to become prepared for the globally interconnected workforce that we cannot ignore the importance of the teacher and the technology tools that should be at their fingertips. Adapting to this change – on a global scale – will help our world work together and accomplish great things.
(Robert J. Bahash is president of McGraw-Hill Education, which is engaged in the development of teaching and learning solutions.)
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