In the context of education, using technology does not simply mean disseminating information online – i.e. posting notes and links in HTML format. Technologies that facilitate interactive online activities allow students to ‘learn by doing’, a principle that’s long been advocated for by teachers who believe in practical learning. In many classrooms today, students are passively consuming information that is fed to them by teachers. The problem with this approach to teaching is that it doesn’t foster creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills among students. In the 21st century, creativity and entrepreneurial thinking has high cultural value and opens up valuable career pathways, but some teachers are still tied down by tradition and are employing a ‘top-down’ approach to teaching which engages students as consumers of pre-determined and standardised content.
Secondly, technology should be used to personalise education - that is, tailoring pedagogy, curriculum, and learning environment to meet the needs and aspirations of individual students. Personalisation is important when you acknowledge the diversity of students in a classroom or particular learning environment. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t take into account the fact that students have different cultural backgrounds, learning habits, interests and talents. Through Big Data and Learning Analytics, teachers will be able to recognise, compare and contrast learning and thinking styles amongst students and adjust their lesson plans where needed. Through the use of technology, teachers and students alike can create a personalised educational ecosystem that supports everybody’s needs and talents.
Lastly, technology can help create global learning communities by using digital communication channels for increased collaboration. It is essential, in a globalised world, that students develop the perspectives and capacities to act as global citizens and workers. For instance, in the new knowledge-based economy, business success is increasingly based on the effective use of intangible assets such as knowledge and skills; and we’ve seen a dramatic increase in international trade and investment flows over the past two decades, with many industries offshoring computer, consumer, financial, data-processing and business services.
Today, workers in a firm can be very dispersed. Businesses can have employees in various locations around the world, all working towards an aligned goal. So, no matter where they live and work, future employers or employees must be ready to work with people from different cultures and geographical locations.
This is where technology can help tremendously. By its very nature, technology is global - connecting people in ways never before imagined. However, traditional schooling is locally or nationally oriented, preparing students for work in the country and culture they’re being educated in.
To develop global competence and consciousness, schools need to encourage students to engage with global communities via social media or other online technologies. Educators could also share online courses with students from other cultures or encourage their local students to participate in educational opportunities offered by institutions beyond their immediate communities.