How technology changes education and the concept of the teacher

The future is here. The 21st century has brought a digital revolution in all areas of our lives and education is also undergoing a progressive transformation. In this article, we will look at the great influence that the technological revolution is having on schools, where we can meet student needs more effectively and teach in a more dynamic way. We will focus on studying how education is changing under a completely different and innovative paradigm.

Confinement has changed the way we understand education, but online classes are just the tip of the iceberg of a much deeper transformation. Educators had to reinvent themselves in this time of need, where they must not only teach, but also ensure that they adapt their skills to an entirely new learning environment. Moreover, not all teachers and students were familiar with the technological training tools used today, so this change has been a huge adaptation process for them.

What was the traditional education system and the teacher of the past like?

The methodologies and content which are taught nowadays need to adapt to cope with the complex and diverse future that lies ahead. Before going into detail about how technology is changing the schools of the future, it is necessary to understand and analyse the methodology used by teachers in the past.

Students used to base their learning on the teacher’s explanations and the use of textbooks or other materials -usually on paper-, and then the student would build on this knowledge with homework and projects

In most cases, the student has to do one or more tests, papers or essays, in which the student has to show his/her understanding of the different topics associated with the subject. The student would then get a grade that reflects his or her knowledge of the subject.

This classic methodology, although it has been effective and ongoing for a long time, is beginning to present some shortcomings, which can lead to the students’ demotivation, disinterest or it can even lead to a very superficial and simple training. These shortcomings increase with the advent of technology and the digital transformation we are experiencing, because although there are more attractive alternatives for students and teachers, the inclusion and integration of technology in schools is often done in a very superficial and trivial way.

The vast majority of academic institutions, teachers and students assume that the integration of technology in schools consists only of replacing elements such as pencil or paper with more advanced tools such as tablets, whiteboards and virtual platforms, when in fact it is a much deeper and substantial change.

What is the new educational framework and the teacher of the present like?

Changes in education have been slowly taking place for some time now, when the development of the internet gave us access to information in a matter of seconds. Hybrid education is the future and, beyond compulsory basic education, all institutions will have to adapt to the new digital environment.

Teachers must become content creators and foster a learning environment, whether or not they are face-to-face with their students. Quality education has to be accessible to all and digitisation is the only way to achieve this goal.

Today’s teacher adapts to the current situation: he or she is flexible and open-minded to new challenges and possibilities. Unlike the traditional teacher, today’s teacher is not overwhelmed by technology, he or she appreciates technology as an opportunity to improve and to transmit his or her knowledge in a unique and different way. Today’s teacher does not only use textbooks, in fact they may not even use textbooks at all: their resources may be slides, articles, news or even films and videos. Today’s classes are much more collaborative, involving the student a lot more.

The problems of implementing digitisation

Digitalisation brings profound social changes, but education is not in a hurry to embrace them. For example, a large number of children were left without access to education, either physical or online, at the beginning of the pandemic because of the schools closings and delays.. To provide this access to all, there are organisations such as the ProFuturo Foundation, which develops digital education programmes for children and teachers from vulnerable backgrounds in countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.

Finding a balance between the advantages of socialisation in the classroom and the opportunities opened up by technology is hard. School, at least in compulsory education, is an institution of care, values and mentoring, not only of transmission of knowledge.

For all these reasons, it is difficult to replace the classroom experience with a screen. The personal experience of a classroom and the contact with the teacher is irreplaceable in many cases, so we must work to build a future with hybrid education, combining the good things of traditional and digital education.