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Free «Technology in Higher Education» Essay Sample

World is changing rapidly and with considerable conversions. With hindsight, education has gradually transformed from conversional type of teaching to innovational. More and more technological novelties penetrate the teaching methods and are no longer considered as supplementary, but major. Nowadays lecturers are obliged to integrate technology in the studying process, which makes them become life-long learners. Without a doubt, everything is not so simple and every situation should come under close scrutiny. As any other phenomenon, using technology in higher education has its cause-effect relations, which are directed both on teachers’ and students’ progress.

Indisputably, application of new teaching methods with the help of up-to-date techniques implies some hurdles to overcome. The most vital is that most teachers are used to a certain type of teaching technique, which has developed for quite a long time. Therefore, the scarcity of appropriate experience and practical skills may influence the quality and result of studying. On the other hand, not only teachers may lack that erudition, but students too. The most typical examples of that case are online courses, which are present at all leading universities of the world. In Thirunarayanan et al. (2005, p.2) book such problem is explained:

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The incorporation of educational technology into the classroom is new to most faculty and their students. As a result, there is a greater chance of unrealistic expectations. The lack of experience and frequent unrealistic expectations are consistent with the high withdrawal rates reported for online courses.

Without a doubt, the introduction of technology in the curriculum had a great impact on education, while being tried and tested. However, it provokes plenty of misunderstanding. If to take an ordinary student, 2 questions will stuck in his or her mind “why do we need to use this technology if we are meeting face to face” and the second one will be about frustration “how is this technology going to help me” (Thirunarayanan et al., 2005, p.2). Judging from the said, the primary role in this situation takes time. There is always not enough time for everything, and introduction of new techniques require a great deal of it just to master basic rules. This means that students are expected to do more, while the day is not going to have 30 hours. Therefore, students feel that intolerable burden is constantly falling on them as not all of them can cope with a hard task of mastering the technique.

Second, technology should not be introduced in all classrooms. Some courses just do not require its presence, while students can manage to do their tasks without it. Authentic education should be concentrated on student’s practical skills and critical thinking, rather than how a student can make his or her life easier with the help of a technical device. Without a doubt, there are some tasks to be done with the help of technology, but this should be just an additional source. This case is merely concentrated on high expectations. Teachers set their hopes that students will gain the most from the studying process, which incorporate everything possible: face-to-face communication, deep understanding of innovational techniques. However, quite often everything ends up with a complete failure, when students cannot do their tasks at all because of ignorance how to do it without any help.

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Third, there are many controversies whether technology is helpful for all kind of learners. On the one hand, it can make a strong chain between students and teachers. As Chuck Robert says:

Technology gives teachers more opportunities to interact with students. Teachers can communicate with students through videoconferencing, which helps the teacher to send both verbal and nonverbal signals. Teachers can also create podcasts that students can download, which allows students to review class content and allows teachers to give students individualized advice.

Therefore, even using the simplest method as email system can make it easier to find a good approach to the students. While communicating with teachers, students will feel strong connection and two-way influence. Moreover, they will understand, that their relationships are more than just “teacher-student”, but at least an “acquaintance-teacher”, which will make studying process remove all that strain and tense. One more thing, which proves that using technology is good for all type of learners, is anonymity or at least its partial features. Again, if to talk about email systems, all the letters are not anonymous, as teachers know who sent them. However, there is no eye-to-eye contact, and, therefore, even the most shy students will not have that fear of what actions should be done.  Therefore, for visual and kinesthetic learners such type of using technology is very helpful as it does not require active verbal collaboration. On the other hand, another type of learners - auditory may not get the best out of technological integration into the classes.  Thirunarayanan (2005) says that “online education may not be the best alternative for every student. For a student, which is an auditory learner, a course with a significant online discussion component may be a problem”.

 
 
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This example does not serve an example only for online courses. Every course should be meticulously planned and designed for all types of learners, not just for online courses. Nilson (2010) also explains the problem with different types of learners “Students who lean more toward visual and kinesthetic styles often face difficulties in the traditional college classroom. Unless they also have a digital or auditory processing style on which to rely, they are often left behind in lecture based courses”. This statement explains the nature of studying process among different learners. It says that a particular type of learners requires different approaches and methods, while introducing some technological novelties. Only when such approach will be accepted by all teachers, would technological methods of education be beneficial for all students.

Nowadays two questions always arise while talking about technology in higher education. They are: advantages and disadvantages of using it. On the one hand, it is even hard to count all possible beneficial effects of technology. Indisputably, if technology is widely accepted throughout the world, it is definitely helpful; otherwise it would not be so popular.  First, technological use in the classroom enhances the interest of students to the subject. Only “dry” material is never perceived in a good way. Students are always interested in technological innovations, especially if they are present in their classrooms. Productivity, as a result, reaches the highest point due to the excess of interest and, therefore, teaching mechanism gets its positive result. Second, using technology at classrooms helps students get acquainted with most typical examples of technical devices and teaches students not to dread using it in the future. Of course, this statement may sound a little bit hilarious as almost all students are familiar with all sophisticated innovations, but still there are many students from poorer districts who need the guide.

On the other hand, numerous disadvantages of using technology get the focus of attention. Money has always been a problem, while introducing innovations in teaching methods. In education this may be the vital question as educator mainly focuses on costs, rather than on children themselves. This problem provokes another one – maintaining and upgrading of devices, which takes too much time for teachers and students to master it after all. However, the most vital components – socialization and communication are gradually diminished. Interaction loses its role as the primary issues are not human beings, but computers or any other devices.

Subsequently, “technological boom” has made a considerable influence on the education and teaching methods. Teachers are obliged to use it in everyday activities, which requires not only general knowledge, but deep understanding of how technical devices work and what impact would they have on studying process. There has always been and will always be a great deal of controversies about higher education and introducing technology in it. Nevertheless, all of them should have a close scrutiny; otherwise it will be impossible to judge positive and negative effects of it. 

   

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