We can already see modern information technologies in education, which make the educational process more interesting and students achieve much better academic results.
Modern school no longer has little in common with the school we or our parents attended. The changes affect a variety of spheres, and for some, the changes are unfavorable, while for others schools face a new opportunity: to be a modern and student-friendly place. A lot of good things are happening in schools through new technologies that make learning easier and more enjoyable.
In schools, new technologies are being used on an increasingly large scale. The basis is, of course, computers with access to the network. Then, other technological advances are increasingly being used, including interactive tablets, special whiteboards, software, interactive platforms, electronic diaries, and books on electronic media. School is becoming more modern, and learning is becoming easier and more interesting.
Computers and the Internet – it’s already standard in school
In modern schools, computers with Internet access are already standard. Modernly equipped computer labs and libraries can be found in most Polish schools, including rural ones. Computers with network access are used to teach computer science, mathematics, and foreign languages. They can be loaded with programs for learning specific subjects and quizzes, such as history or chemistry. They can also be freely available to students staying in the library or common room. With them, students search for information, necessary for lessons or tips on “ on how to write my paper?”, and learn. Computers can be used by students with learning difficulties, such as children and teenagers with diagnosed dysgraphia. Their handwriting is not very legible, so it is recommended that written statements be made on the computer.
Modern whiteboards and interactive screens are becoming increasingly popular in education. They are used at virtually all stages of education, from kindergarten to the last grades of high school. They facilitate learning but also make it more interesting. The boards can be operated with a special pointer or by touch. Each student can approach the whiteboard, annotate various elements on it, and make charts and notes. The whiteboards are coupled with a computer and a projector, the teacher can quickly generate what is written on the board, for example, in the form of an aesthetic note to be printed for his charges.
So-called e-books and audiobooks also play a big role in education. By the name of an e-book, we call it an electronic book, that is, written on a special medium. It can be used via a special reader, but also an ordinary smartphone or tablet. Such a book is read similarly to a PDF document. E-books in many schools are solving the problem of understocked libraries and giving students access to literature in the broadest sense. Libraries are investing in more and more e-books, which are cheaper than buying multiple copies of school reading. Audiobooks, on the other hand, are recorded books, or the words of a reader, which we can listen to as if we were reading a book. This is an excellent solution for busy people: they can, for example, clean and read a book at the same time, and for children who have difficulty reading, such as those with severe visual impairment or diagnosed dyslexia.
Electronic diaries have also been introduced into many schools. These are computer platforms that allow students’ data and grades to be entered there. This allows parents to quickly and easily monitor their child’s educational achievements without visiting the school, which is often difficult due to work obligations. Thanks to electronic diaries, a parent can check at home how his or her child is learning, and a clever student will no longer hide a bad grade from mom or dad. In addition, in the electronic diary, a teacher can post information about what to prepare for class, when he or she is planning major tests, and add information about a school trip or the next parent meeting. Universities and colleges, on the other hand, have introduced electronic indexes, which are slowly replacing paper indexes. They are similarly structured to electronic diaries: lecturers enter grades from colloquia, credits and exams on a special platform, where the student can check what grades he or she has received without having to search for lecturers at the university.
Many schools and universities offer modern e-learning platforms, offering distance learning virtually without leaving home. Abroad, and especially overseas, e-learning is already an everyday occurrence. Through the use of such tools, it is possible to offer lectures via the Internet, organize online courses and training, and conduct lessons via the web. Students can take an active part in them.
The presence of social media, such as Facebook, is not insignificant in education today. They allow bringing students together, for example, by creating discussion groups. In this way, it is possible to set up a study circle or interest group and communicate information about future meetings to all participants, or exchange thematic articles found online. A teacher who communicates with his students through social media appears to them as someone modern and more accessible: the distance is reduced, and the person the teacher seems closer, and friendlier (after all, he has a Facebook account just like us!).
New technologies are also useful for creating innovative methods and forms of teaching for children and young people with disabilities. Thanks to their use, it is much easier and more effective for visually impaired students, including those who are completely blind, hearing impaired, including those who are completely deaf, as well as students in wheelchairs, chronically ill, and those who are lying down.
Special software for computers, such as those for the visually impaired and blind, which “tells” what is happening on the screen, will prove helpful. Tools for the hearing-impaired can also be used, including special headphones that eliminate distracting environmental stimuli and enhance the child’s hearing. Children with mobility difficulties can use special whiteboards, on which writing is much easier than in a notebook. They can use – mentioned earlier – e-books if reading traditional books makes it difficult for them. For those with visual impairments, audiobooks are recommended. For chronically ill and bedridden children, e-learning, as mentioned earlier, will be an excellent solution. The teacher can teach the child remotely and even quiz him on a given batch of material online.
Are new technologies a good thing? They certainly have their advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include the fact that they greatly facilitate the educational process, and for many groups of people, including children and young people with disabilities: blind, hard of hearing, or chronically ill, whose health condition prevents them from being in school. Thanks to the use of modern technologies, they can acquire knowledge in a way that is adapted to their abilities, whether using e-learning or special software. In addition, modern technologies make learning much more enjoyable and interesting for students. It is possible to conduct lessons with the use of innovative interactive whiteboards, which activate young people, eliminating reluctance while listening to teachers’ lectures. With whiteboards and other interactive devices, students take an active part in the lesson and remember more from it. Electronic diaries, on the other hand, make it easier for parents to contact teachers and make hiding bad grades and behavioral comments much more difficult than it used to be.
What about the disadvantages of modern technology? These include the displacement of traditional elements of school, including logbooks or indexes. The latter, for many of us, are a touching reminder of our college years; nowadays, college students in many cases no longer have such indexes. In addition, computers and the Internet are accused of shallowing interpersonal relationships, children spend a lot of time online and have difficulty forming proper relationships. Writing e-mails and text messages make us less and less willing to write by hand, children’s hands get tired faster, and they have trouble maintaining calligraphic handwriting.
What conclusion can be drawn from this? Modern technologies are good as long as we use them properly and reap their benefits. It is worth introducing them to schools, where their task is to make learning easier and more enjoyable for the audience. However, let’s keep in mind how else we can get students interested, such as by taking them to a museum or theater. Let’s use modern technologies judiciously but not forget traditional values and ideas.