Digital learning: Educating through technology

2014-04-05

Republica National Daily

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In this modern age of technological miracles, there are quite a few things that we can’t accomplish without the powers of modern day machineries. 

We are able to trace the entire night sky from the comforts of our sofas, we can explore the basic alphabets on rich tablet screens with an imaginary dog named Rocket; we can paint digitally on tablet screens with magnetic pens or fingers as brushes. 

Students can learn, create more and can work better with technology and it is time our education sector learnt to embrace the technological race rather than shun it.

With iPads and tablet PCs, educating kids have come easier to parents. Scraping the traditional static way of education where students are confined to the pages of the textbooks, technology has introduced a dynamic interactive way of learning that many students may respond well to. 

With apps like Google Sky Map, youngsters interested in astrology can point their cameras onto the night sky and find out what constellations, stars or celestial body they are looking at. 

Apple, too, is not far behind on educational apps, with various apps that help students learn about science, music or a completely new language.

“I think there are a lot of advantages on using technology,” says 19-year-old Sujina Byanjankar, studying Bachelor’s in Business Information System (BBIS) at LA College of Management, Hattiban. 

“I’m studying a technical field that involves the working of technology in businesses and I think technology has molded into our lives and all we can do is embracing it. We use projectors, videos, PowerPoint to present out projects because today’s society demands it. Everything is done with the help of technology and the education sector should open up to this as well,” she adds. 

Education doesn’t always come from classrooms or educational institutions; a lot of what we learn comes from experience and from indirect forms of learning like novels or computer games. 

Authors and graphics designers have now started working on visual storytelling books that uses technology to bring fantasy to life. 


Five educational apps to look out for

1. Mathboard (iOS, $4.99)
Chalkboard (Android, Free)
Chalkboard or Mathboard is an application that helps students calculate simple and complex mathematical problems. 

2. Sketchbook Pro (iOS &Android, $4.99)
If you love drawing and would like to try your hand at digital illustration, Sketchbook pro can turn your tablet into a fully functioning drawing board. 

3. How to make origami (iOS & Android, Free)
If you love the art of origami, this app will definitely help you out. It provides step-by-step DIY on creating amazing origami pieces. 

4. Sky Map (Android, Free)
Star Walk (iOS, $2.99)
These apps help you identify with the constellations and celestial bodies floating in the space above. Point your camera to the heavens and it will identify what you are looking at. 

5. Monster Hunt (iOS, Free)
Monster Hunt is the memory game that we used to love as children. Images are hidden under each piece and you need to remember what lies under each one and pair it up with its other half.

Khoya, an interactive storytelling app for the iPad, is much more than a book; it opens up a door to a different world of fairies and glowing dragonflies that light your way through the adventure. Gone are the days when we used to listen to our parents read out bedtimes stories and dream about them after. 

Going more interactive, PuppetPals is another app for the iPad that lets children design their own sock-puppet story and share it with friends. 

Story writing for children has also taken a step forward by keeping pace with rapid technological advancement.

“Technological advances are affecting children as much as the air they breathe and the food they eat – the effect is that profound. Technology is shaping who we are, and who we are to become – just as much as our biology,” says technologist Jiggy Gaton, a frequent tech contributing writer to Republica, adding, “The entire world is embracing technology and I think schools should too. Back in my day, my school tried to ban out Texas Instruments (TI) Programmable Calculators but they finally figured out that that was a bad idea. I think the same thing will happen with newer forms of educational devices like iPads or smart phones.”

There are some disadvantages to technological learning because of the fact that these devices are built to multitask. 

Students may get distracted into using other applications while learning or creating, and with a volatile mind that these young students have, they are defiantly bound to wander off to other more illustrious apps. But like how every good thing has a bad side to it, it depends on what kids actually want to do with it. 

When application creators are working so hard to create educational applications that appeal more to students and help them want to learn, there is little anyone else can do because prioritizing learning is something they have to learn on their own.

“We believe in visually appealing ways of education because it makes learning more attractive,” says 37-year-old Raju Baniya, Chief Business Officer at MiDas Education, a company that provides digital content (e-classes) for the Nepali Government Curriculum.

“Technology makes studying more attractive but there is always the side of misuse. Students are always attracted to the bad side of things and what we need is a control mechanism. Parents are afraid to provide their children with educational software or access to Internet because they don’t have any way to control what they use these resources for. If we have that control mechanism, parents as well as teachers might be more willing to introduce technology in their schools and in the learning curves of their students,” he informs.

It is an undeniable fact that technology has becomes an inseparable part of modern life and we need to learn to accept technological advances rather than turn a blind eye to it. 

Young people have started reading books on e-book readers, started reading comics and graphic novels on tablets and have started creating astounding digital paintings on tablets and computers. 

The methods of teaching need to change to make use of technology and make learning more student-friendly. In this technological age, apps and interactive education might just be the ticket.

(Source: Republica National Daily)