By Bahar Ferguson
Before you begin reading this article, it is only fair that I provide the following: WARNING: The content in this article is going to make you very jealous. You will become furious at how much easier some things have become for students.
Now that we have that disclaimer out of the way, let’s continue. Technology in education, like every other area of life, has come a long way over the past 10 years. It has impacted every aspect of education, from classroom teaching to remote education options. The only consistent thing about the changing technology is that it continues to create an enhanced learning experience for everyone.
Arguably the biggest technological advancement for education was the Internet and the access to endless information that comes with it. But even after the Internet was around, computers were not all that easy to come by. It wasn’t until recently that every student had a hand-held super-computer in his or her pocket. Being able to access any information at the click of a button makes learning infinitely easier.
Instead of spending hours in the library pouring through books, students can search and instantly find what they are looking for on their phone from the comfort of their home. While this doesn’t sound even the slightest bit advanced now, this ability was a major turning point for education.
Schools are starting to have tablets for every student to use. So, instead of looking at pictures of things or places, they can view that object in 3D and rotate to see every angle or drop a pin and “walk” through the streets of Thailand, thanks to Google Earth and Street View. This interactive learning provides another dimension that helps students learn.
Professors will always play a role in education. Now, whether or not that role is positive or negative is not as certain. We have all been stuck in that class where the teacher just doesn’t seem to be speaking the same language as you. Whether the teacher doesn’t connect with you, they are too smart to teach people who don’t understand or they’re coming in hung-over and don’t want to be there themselves, thankfully there are now other options.
Technology, the Internet in particular, has created a number of additional educational channels so that when your teacher is not working for you, you can still learn the subject. Channels like wyzan.com, heytutor.com and even youtube.com can all be utilized for education. These, in addition to your teacher, can help you master the subject.
Wyzan is an online tutoring website where you can find a tutor that is best for you. Choose the subject that you want help with, the time and day you want tutoring and how much per hour you are willing to spend. Because Wyzan is online tutoring, you can schedule a tutor for any time of the day.
Wyzan offers hundreds of tutors that fit your needs for you to choose from. You can view how much experience they have tutoring and how much in each specific sub-category. For example, if you are looking for a calculus tutor, you can see how much math tutoring they have done and how much of it was specifically calculus.
HeyTutor is very similar to Wyzan. However, they focus on scheduling in-person tutoring sessions. You answer all the questions such as subject and price range, and then you add your ZIP code. You will see every tutor in your area and their available times. Choose from the cheapest, highest-rated or most experienced.
When you think of YouTube, I am sure that “educational” is not a word that comes to mind. But you would be surprised how helpful it can be. YouTube is great because you can instantly find a tutor, watch them teach for free and change to a different person at any moment if you’d like. However, YouTube does have some disadvantages. The tutoring is not interactive or personalized and you have distracting videos in the suggestions that can easily get you off topic.
Technology has even changed the way people get an education or attend college. Thanks to technology, you can obtain your associate's, bachelor's, master's, doctorate or a certification completely online. Online institutions like SNHU, Capella University and University of Florida Distance Learning have been seeing yearly growth in enrollment.
Apparently, people love the idea of not fighting for a parking spot, because, while overall college enrollment dropped through the United States over the past few years, online college enrollment saw an increase of enrollment. The ease and affordability of online college have gotten people back into school and eager to learn.
Online educational courses have progressed from the standard classroom lessons. They have begun branching into more- entertaining topics. These new courses don’t even lead to any degree or certification. Courses like MasterClass are purely for personal enjoyment and education.
MasterClass is an online and mobile app that has famous professionals teach you their area of expertise. You can watch videos and learn how to cook delicious food from Gordon Ramsey, learn acting form Natalie Portman or learn wine appreciation from James Suckling. As you can see, some of these are more for fun than anything else, but that doesn’t change the fact they’re all educational.
MasterClass may be far from the typical online educational courses, but they have done a great job at balancing education and entertainment. The courses are great for anyone, whether they’re already working in the industry, wanting to start or just wanting to learn more about it. For $180 you get a year of access to 50-plus courses. Each course has an average of 24 lessons and those lessons are 12 minutes each. You can take the lessons as seriously as you would like. There are even workshops and homework you can submit for review.
With all the advances in technology, it is hard to predict how education will be changed in the future. With only the past to judge from, it is safe to say the tools to assist learning will become more advanced and that remote access will keep increasing in popularity. Who knows, maybe one day our great-great-grandchildren will put on a VR headset and sit through their classes at home.
Bahar Ferguson is president of Wasatch I.T., a Utah provider of outsourced IT services for small and medium-sized businesses.