Students today learn in an environment shaped by the technological boom of the last decade. It is unlike anything previous generations experienced and can lead to some very interesting methods for development and learning. Lectures have become podcasts, dry erase boards have been replaced by Smartboards, and technology has become a driving force in nearly every aspect of learning. Here, we will take a look at some of the most popular trends that have changed and shaped our learning for the better.
In the past, collaborative assignments meant students scrambled to find a place and time that was convenient for everyone. Now, with the advent of programs like Google Drive and OneDrive, groups never have to meet or even speak face to face to create an assignment. Using cloud storage allows students to compile research materials for everyone to see and use. E-collaboration makes it easy to prove if a group mate has carried their weight–just track the edits.
Open Source Movement
Wikipiedia is always first and foremost in the conversation when open source sites are brought up, but the movement encompasses everything from Linux to Open Office–alternative software choices for students who cannot afford the prices of big brands such as Apple or Microsoft. From Mozilla Firefox to the Science Commons, students have more options and information readily available than ever before and with credibility on the rise for many of these open source platforms, you can be sure to see more and more educators rely on them for teaching and learning sources.
Perhaps the greatest change in education is the advent of online degrees. Once offered only by institutions with questionable accreditation, distance learning is now offered by many respected universities in a wide expanse of availability. It has made higher education feasible for both the nontraditional and the low-income students. From technical certificates to masters of music education, online degrees have bridged a gap for continuing education and have allowed students the flexibility and convenience they need.
Though Facebook and Twitter may suffer from an overabundance of hashtags, they have become instrumental in the educational setting. Professors upload tutorials and screenshots and use the messenger services to communicate with students outside office hours, and institutions send out announcements and schedule events through calendar programs provided by social media. Perhaps the greatest advantage of social media is the ability to create groups–be it for an assignment, a class, or a major. Interactivity via social media on an educational platform has forever changed the way we learn and study. Students can upload files, host informal study sessions, and easily communicate with classmates about missed classes or unclear directions.
As technology evolves, so too does education. Collaboration, lesson delivery, and the ready availability of programs and information offer students more choices than ever before. Students today enter the workforce already familiar with the technology that has become a part of everyday work life and are better for it.