One of the many hot topics in education today (and one that we are particularly interested in, here at Ambitious Minds) is the use of technology to support learning. There are a lot of incredibly exciting projects taking place all over the world right now, from the Khan Academy’s use of video to individual teachers using computer games as a way of bringing topics to life and making them relevant to their pupils, all of which are enhancing the educational experience and bringing it up-to-date for the 21st century.
Education has changed fundamentally over the last three decades, as technology has progressed in all areas of modern life, linking communities across the globe and allowing the average person to produce content of a professional standard from their own bedroom. It plays an increasing role in the classroom, starting in the nursery and going all the way through to professional training, but because of the sheer variety of products and services available, the decision of what to use can be confusing for many.
Schools often struggle with this, as there is very little opportunity to rectify mistakes during the academic year and no one wants to buy something, or sign up to a service that will be obsolete before the summer term is through. Often, this can make people hesitant about using something new. However, there is a simple way to navigate this problem, which is to keep focused on what you’re trying to teach and choose the technology to support that.
A great example of how to do this is the Khan Academy. Salman Khan used YouTube to help his younger cousin study maths. The free video service allowed Sal to post short tutorials from his home in Boston that his cousin in New Orleans could watch at a time that suited her. Soon the videos were attracting a huge audience, allowing hundreds of thousands of pupils to benefit from the tutorials, and Khan quit his day job to run the academy full-time.
When he started out, Sal Khan already knew what he wanted to teach, and he used the available technology to enable him to do that. He didn’t look at the technology first and then try to work out what he could use it for, he used it to serve a specific requirement – how to coach his cousin who lived in a different city.
Technology should be embraced by educators across the globe because it expands the learning experience and brings relevance to otherwise dry subjects. Just don’t forget what it is that you’re supposed to be teaching.