How do you feel that technology has impacted learning both in and outside of the classroom?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had what I’d call an insatiable curiosity. I often wonder how something works, what something means, how to do something, etc. — and I simply cannot leave it at wondering and move on. I have to know. The internet has been my best friend as a result. The answers to virtually all of my questions are available to me within minutes somewhere online. Every day I learn new things, big and small, that I simply would not know or learn about if not for the internet. I would not be able to go to a library for every question I found; I’m sure I’d not have friends anymore if I asked them every question that came to me hoping to find someone with the answer. To me, this is the epitome of how technology has significantly impacted my learning.
This curiosity has also led me to become a lover of MOOCs. I can learn new things in a structured learning environment reminiscent of a college course for free and on my own time. I’m already a perpetual student in formal settings and I get frustrated that I can’t take every college class I want to (recently I’ve been thinking I should take calculus for, get this, fun). I still can’t with MOOCs because I don’t have the time but at least I can dabble in a course of interest and learn some things from an expert on the topic. Before the internet, this kind of learning just wasn’t possible.
These are two personal examples of how technology has impacted learning entirely outside of organized schooling. It has also impacted learning outside of a physical classroom but still inside organized schooling. eLearning is the most obvious example of this. While distance learning has existed for a very, very long time, technology has transformed distance learning from mostly one-dimensional snooze-fests (text-based, though you might get lucky and get recorded video lectures…) to dynamic learning experiences that rival what you can get in person.
Inside the classroom, the impacts are just as great. Technology broadens the diversity of content possibilities and has the potential to increase interactivity with the material. Some professors persist with the old school — read dry textbook, listen to a lecture, write a couple papers and/or take a couple tests — but for those who choose to run with it, technology allows for more dynamic instruction that is more likely to grab students’ attention, target different learning preferences, and provide a more immersive experience in the content.