We have all been educated in a teacher-centric classroom; a system where the teacher is up-front and the students are seated in nice neat rows, listening to the lecture and taking notes. This system has been and, to some extent, still is the core of our educational system. Schools have relied on it for decades, and until just recently it had yet to see any change. Today, we live in 21st century, and technology has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Though some people try to stay away from it, none of us can deny that it has brought change into our world, including our educational system. From chalkboards, to whiteboards, and now to smart boards; technology has become our main source of research, knowledge, and teaching.
But what has changed exactly? As a former high school teacher and university instructor myself, I can safely say that my days as a student were dramatically different than my days as a teacher.
- We used to write our assignments on paper and hand them in directly to our teacher by hand, whereas my students simply emailed me their assignments or uploaded them to the school’s blackboard.
- Back then, we used to write our tasks, exams schedules, and assignments on a calendar or agenda; now students can simply jot it down on their smartphones or even get a text reminder from their teachers.
- As students, all our exams were held in the classroom and monitored by our teachers, and we had to wait till the next day or more to receive our grade. Now, students in some cases fill in an online exam where they receive their grade immediately after submitting their answers.
- Group work or a group project involved us going to a friend’s house, or to meet our team at school or a library, even a coffee shop. Today, students can simply log online and have their team meeting on a chat room or by using social media.
- Our teacher’s main platform for communicating with us was in the classroom; whereas teachers today can reach any and all of their students through social media and group pages for their class. Parents are just as easily informed.
The list goes on and on. To some, this might seem like a very scary thing. But change is not always a bad thing.
Smart boards, for example, have not only made the teacher’s job easier, it made the subject itself fun and attractive to students, increasing their curiosity and enthusiasm towards any topic. Social media groups offer the teachers and the students alike an array of benefits: from a means to communicate and coordinate with each other away from the classroom, to a platform where they can place their syllabi, assignments, reads, competitions, and even exams.
While some might consider technology, social media, and the internet itself as a distraction for students, many schools and educators are using it as a means to curve that distraction towards a constructive drive, push students forward, and affect a positive change.