So Does Technology Enhance the Learning Experience?

There’s no doubt that society is changing rapidly, every day another aspect of our lives moves into the digital realm.  Communicating, finances, shopping and the learning experience are all found online, often with excellent results.  But the reality is that specific skills still need to be taught, the challenge is how they can best delivered using a digital medium.

Technology has potential from both the pupils and the teachers perspective.  Computer software for example can often reduce the amount of time a teacher needs to pass on knowledge whilst still maintaining quality.  If well designed it can even feedback and help teachers to refine their tuition based on pupil’s experiences and opinions.

In medicine for example, costs and effort can be reduced hugely in many areas with virtually no affect on overall teaching effectiveness.  A project called hapTEL has designed a virtual dental workstation which allows students to practice their skills.  Previously this would be done using plastic teeth to practice on, the costs of these teeth was substantial approaching £15, ooo – virtual teeth are much, much cheaper.

There are also many, many online courses and resources with less specific value already available on the internet.  The huge expansion of MOOC (massive open online courses) are bringing incredible benefits to areas where such teaching facilities simply didn’t exist.  Hopefully this model will stay on track and stay accessible to all, however it is expected that this area will become increasingly commercialised in the future. Already some course and delivery mechanisms are being restricted based on the subjects IP address – this video here shows how they can be bypassed at least for now.

Hopefully this will not become widespread and the benefits of expanded learning will outweigh the commercial gains. These are exciting times in the world of online education and learning but not only for the education itself. Research is also likely to benefit greatly from the increased opportunities of development and social research. Web technology exists for conducting anything from simple questionnaires (on a vast sample) right through to the ability to conduct more in depth research.