Education has changed significantly in the last twenty years. One of the main reasons education has undergone so many changes is because of technological development. In 1990, computers and other forms of technology served a minimal role in the classroom. Today, many if not most college students attend class with a laptop. I am writing about some of the biggest advantages technology gave to education.
Technology has made research much easier. Before online Encyclopedias, Google Scholar, JSTOR, and other online research tools were available, students were forced to spend numerous hours in the library. With the new tools, students can conduct research faster in the comfort of their homes. With Google and other search engines, students can find relevant information faster and more efficiently. Also, there is no more need for intensive memorization as information is more readily available.
New also technology allows for a faster, more efficient, and more interactive classroom experience. With Powerpoint presentations and projectors, there is no need for blackboards and whiteboards. With clickers, students can take quizzes during the classroom.
These developments also help improve tutoring services. Online tutoring programs are becoming available. One-on-one in-home tutoring programs are also being aided these developments. Tutors can bring laptops to sessions allowing them to look up information, and show examples to the student more easily.
Wi-fi technology allows students to study in more comfort and a more ergonomic setting.
New mathematical software such as Maple and Mathematica allows students to make a computer algebra computations more easily. Software like Matlab and Scilab allows students to make numerical computations more easily. There is no more need for a line rule. Advanced Texas Instrument and Casio calculators allow students to solve equations and produce graphs. Online software such as Webassign allows students to submit mathematics assignments online with instant feedback.
The internet allows students to read books and educational supplements at home. There is no need to go to a bookstore or library. Since many of these sources are open source or funded by advertising, students can access these materials for free. Wikipedia, Wikibooks are good examples. Students can learn more without leaving their house.
College applications and job applications can now be complete online. Students can deliver important paperwork to universities and employers at a much faster rate.
Online education allows more students to get an education. Handicapped students, students that have to travel a lot, and students with jobs can now complete their degrees wherever they go with a flexible schedule and often at their own pace. Due to its lower costs, online education also benefits lower-income students.
Technological development allowed the creation of new IT jobs and improved economic development in general.
Not all effects of technology on education are positive. Technology also allows students to cheat more easily. However, new technology allows instructors to detect plagiarism. Technological developments can also discourage critical thinking since answers are more readily available. Technology also encourages students to spend their time doing other activities such as playing video games and participating in social networking.
Overall, technological development in the 1990s and 2000s appears to be beneficial to education. Currently, technology improvement follows Moore’s law which states that computers become twice as efficient approximately every two years. Today, one can purchase a well performing personal computer (without a monitor, software, and other accessories) for as low as $123.99. Recently, I have not spent over $250 on a desktop computer and it allowed me to do very advanced computations like high-sample Monte Carlo algorithms. If the trend continues, students all over the world will be able to afford desktops and laptops contributing to a better global education.