Technology has dramatically changed most industries around the world in the last decade or so, from retail and security, to healthcare, finance, human resources, and more. One area that is also being increasingly impacted by technology is education.
From primary and secondary schools through to universities, online providers, and other facilities, the ability to track, exchange, analyze, store, and utilize information through technology is changing the face of both teaching and learning.
Whether you are an educator planning on embarking on a master’s in educational technology so that you can improve your skills, or want to understand the changes from a student or parent’s point of view, it’s important to be aware of how big data and other technologies are having an impact. Read on for the lowdown today.
New Ways of Teaching and Learning
For starters, one of the biggest changes being seen in the education sector over recent years is in the area of actual teaching. Technological advances have made it much easier for teachers to provide personalized instruction for students suited to their individual needs, rather than having to rely on the old way of delivering lessons in a single, prescribed way that all students had to cope with.
Now, with customized teaching, educators can use a variety of learning methods to tailor activities to their students. As an example, on top of the rise in traditional online courses, many computer games and other adaptive learning programs are now available which can be used to increase the knowledge and skills of students at all levels.
This tech is interactive (which makes learning more fun), plus it can work well for people who learn best through non-traditional methods; that is, not via the usual “teacher stands at the front of the classroom and everyone must listen” approach. Handily, teachers can tailor activities through these newer programs to individual learners. This way, each student’s particular learning type and skill level can be taken into account and programmed in specifically.
Furthermore, many of these digital courses also utilize predictive analytics (via big data) to understand exactly which information students are struggling with, or those things they’re mastering quickly. This data can then be used to modify lessons to suit individual progress.
Sharing of Information Between Facilities and Educators
Another way that technology has changed education is that these days schools, universities, other learning institutions, governments, and all associated educational groups, can share information more quickly and systematically than ever.
In the past, when students moved from one facility to another, and particularly if they moved from one state to another or went overseas, it was quite difficult and time consuming for educators to get access to their files. This meant teachers often had no clue about a student’s educational history or attendance record. As a result, students could find themselves left behind work-wise or repeating work they had already completed; while teachers had to try and figure out a student’s abilities and attitude from scratch.
With the evolution of big data though, times have changed. Teachers, principals, deans and other educators can send and receive student details very quickly. This saves time for both sides, and ensures that students can ease into new facilities and adjust more quickly.
Of course, as it has done in other industries, the growth in big data and other technologies has created a number of new job opportunities in the education sector. One area in particular that is thriving is that of data analysis.
With the influx of information flowing between institutions, there is now a definite need for more analysts who can sit down and study all the data, then interpret their findings and make recommendations on how the details can be effectively utilized. Data analysts are increasingly required to sort through information and link disparate data sets.
Another job type that is growing considerably is that of educational trainers. Across the various different types of educational facilities, from primary and secondary schools to universities, private colleges, online institutions, and the like, there is a constant need for trainers who can teach educators how to use data effectively in the classroom.
Data Used in Planning
Lastly, data is also being used more and more to help educational organizations and government departments to plan and strategize, both for the short-term (day-to-day operations) and for the long-term. For example, it is helpful for schools, universities and the like to use data to compare the results of their own students with those at other facilities. Data can also be used to compare the level of drop-outs occurring, as well as to learn from other educators around the globe about how various teaching methods are being used and to what success.