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3 Ways That Common Technology Can Reshape Education

By Kate Croston *

We're surrounded by technology in our everyday lives. We use computers for everything from playing games to checking the weather. Even the smartphones in our pockets have an incredible amount of computing power. With the flood of tablets into the market, it's safe to say that everyone is well connected at this point.

Considering the proliferation of all of this technology, it's amazing to consider how little of an impact it's had on education. From the side of educators, teaching methods are still stuck in an era where digital content was rare or nonexistent. Learning for students is just as archaic.

The good news is that it's easy to make quick improvements. Whether you're an educator or a student, the technology you're already using can easily be adapted toward an educational focus. Let's take a look at some of the things you can do right now.

Google Technologies for Education
Photo by Charlotte Kesl - World Bank

Educators: Use Google Drive for assignments. Google Drive has made strides in the business world over the last few years. The software is a set of office tools similar to Microsoft Office, only it resides in the cloud and has a collaborative nature to it. Anyone who's authorized can log on and make changes to a document, presentation, or spreadsheet.

Considering how useful this technology is, it's incredible that some educators still require paper copies of assignments. Even instructors who allow digital submission tend to require it through email. With a tool such as Google Drive, students can complete and submit an assignment, and educators can provide immediate feedback directly on the submission. The process is faster, more intuitive, and allows for much more effective feedback.

Students: Your tablet can replace your textbooks. The tablet market has seen an incredible amount of growth since the iPad's introduction in 2010. The devices are especially popular among college students. They can be used for rapid media consumption, and they're also ideal for browsing the web and playing games.

More importantly, tablets also serve as excellent e-readers. In terms of education, students can load their textbooks onto their iPad or Android tablet and leave the heavy, bulky books at home. Apple's iBooks initiative provides quick access, but students with Android tablets can also load their textbooks through
third-party services such as Amazon Kindle or other vendors. Replacing stacks of books with a tablet helps to ensure that students no longer have to worry about hauling their books with them.

Students & Educators: Video chat is good for learning, too. The market for video calling has seen tremendous growth in the last few years. Skype is commonplace, Facebook, and Google Meet both feature native video chatting, and FaceTime is now a ubiquitous feature on iOS devices. It's no longer expensive or complicated to make a video call.

Yet, as the ease and availability of video calling has grown, the use of technology in the education sector has crawled at best. That's amazing when one considers that people retain almost twice as much information in face-to-face communication. Considering that the entire goal of education is information retention, not using video chat is just counterproductive.

Students and educators can both incorporate technology into the education process by simply bringing up the video call option. One-on-one video calls between students and educators are not just more effective than emailing back and forth, they're also a time saver since students don't need to travel. Embracing video chat can provide the most "bang for your buck" when it comes to improving the quality of education without significant investment.

Above all, what these uses show is that common technology can be easily integrated with education. It's also amazing to consider that none of these technologies are proprietary; they're all commonly available on devices owned by most people. Specialized apps, such as Evernote and The Elements, add even more of a learning focus. Technology can bring our educational methods up-to-date with the modern-day and into the future, we just have to let it.

(*) Kate Croston is a freelance writer, holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She writes guest posts for different sites and loves contributing home internet service related topics. Questions or comments can be sent to katecroston.croston09 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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