It is by no way new information that technology is now playing an even bigger role in our lives than it did this time ten years ago. It is extremely rare to meet someone who doesn’t have a mobile phone, doesn’t have access to a tablet of some form, or doesn’t know how to use a computer. Technology is incorporated into virtually every aspect of our lives, from our daily lesson plans, weekly shopping trips to our doctors’ appointments.
Teaching is no exception. The use of technology while teaching is a great asset in many ways. 10 years ago it was a revelation when educators started using laptops to carry their lessons around with them. Now, everything is even more virtual in the sense of lesson plans and files. iPads and tablets have become very mainstream within education, used by both students and teachers. Tablets are used for everything from full blown power points and lesson activities to simply taking notes on what the teacher is saying.
There are lots of different resources available on tablets that can come in very useful in the classroom. The use of cloud storage, for instance, allows our students to access their learning resources anywhere at any time. Working virtually, through the cloud, reduces the amount of printing of resources and eliminates the chances of losing worksheets and the like. The cloud is becoming ever more useful with the more development it undergoes, now making it possible to share files and resources instantly between different devices – in some instances even allowing other devices to view real time editing of documents.
Applications to aid education are everywhere on the App Store now. There are sections dedicated to study aids. This involved everything from note taking tools to apps that help you learn more specialized subjects, like quantum physics.
Recently I decided to learn a new language. I didn’t know which language to start learning, so I downloaded an app to suggest some. The app picked Arabic. Then I needed to find resources, so I downloaded another app. There weren’t many resources available that were easy to follow. So I took to the old fashioned method and googled something on my computer. I searched for schools that taught Arabic. The top result for was London Arabic Tuition. I figured, with an actual teacher and official resources, I wouldn’t need the apps that I had downloaded.
Once I started learning Arabic, I found that a lot of the apps were useless for what I was learning anyway. The apps taught what would be the equivalent of speaking like characters from a Jane Austin. I was learning a dialect. While the apps were essentially useless, I still found both myself and my tutor using our technology – iPads especially – an awful lot as both learning and teaching aids. All my work was instantly saved to a shared DropBox, all of the lessons were available as video files in that DropBox and any resources I needed for independent work were there too.
It didn’t take long for me to realize the dependence we had on the technology at hand. Virtually everything was done using either an iPad or a computer. I came to realize that the technology we take for granted on a daily basis is potentially the best learning resource ever created. While it comes with limitations, as does every great invention, there are plenty of way around them. For instance, if the internet isn’t accessible from your device, for some reason or another, you’re pretty much limited to working from offline resources and saving things locally. This may cause issues in terms of accessing work that is on the cloud that is needed, or downloading new resources, but 9 times out of 10, it’s a temporary problem and is very easy to either fix or work round.
At the end of the day, portable technology has been a godsend in many ways. As mentioned above, everything has its own drawbacks in one way or another and technology is no exception to that rule. Websites go down, internet connections can be temperamental and files can get corrupted – But the pros greatly outweigh the cons in this scenario. 10 texts books become one easy to carry item, printouts and resources take 5 seconds to access on the Cloud, your tutor is simply a FaceTime away and all of this takes up less room than a dinner plate.