As the role of technology in the classroom expands and adapts, the role of education itself also changes. While many nations have deemed it necessary to provide basic educations to citizens, traditional education models have begun taking a backseat to the acquisition of skills. If skills are the true barometer of learning and economic progress, then grade levels and test scores take on less importance.
The World Bank issued a report on the relationship between technology and secondary education. Within the report, it became increasingly clear that the goals for both advanced and industrializing nations were tied to an educated workforce:
Globalization, the increased importance of knowledge as a driving force in economic development, and the skill-biased nature of technological changes in the workplace are putting additional pressures on national governments to modernize and revamp their secondary education systems in order to produce graduates who are well prepared to enter the work force or institutions of higher learning. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are transforming teaching and learning processes in educational systems worldwide.1)
It is becoming increasingly possible to learn from faculty from the top universities without leaving your own home, regardless of age and income.2) Coupled with the growth in online access to courses, student mobility and globalization is growing in a similar manner as trade. Students are more international, and borders have fallen as the pursuit of skills has broken down borders and rendered institutions less important.3) Another article examining the technological trends in education reported:
There are many opportunities for individual students to use technology to enhance their learning. These include online courses that provide students in remote locations with opportunities for customized curriculum and advanced placement courses. These courses are conducted entirely online and offer asynchronous interaction among faculty and students. Because they allow students to participate anytime and from anywhere, online courses are becoming increasingly popular among postsecondary students whose job and personal commitments do not allow them to meet a regular class schedule.4)
A globalizing affect in postsecondary education could possibly trickle down to secondary education, as barriers become meaningless and teachers can engage with students regardless of location. Income and social status can become irrelevant if access to technology is obtained, but access to technology has to overcome a “digital divide” in which underprivileged students lack the skills and confidence needed to gain the proper use out of technology in regards to education.5)
Neil Kokemuller reported, “Classroom instruction has changed as well. Teachers are often evaluated by students on their use of audio-visual tools to enhance learning. In junior high, high school and college, PowerPoint is often used for typical daily lectures. Computer simulations, virtual models, smart boards and digital tools are also used for in-class instruction or out-of-class projects. Some instructors even incorporate mobile devices, social media and the Internet into classroom activities to help students understand how to use technology in practical, productive ways.”6) Many of these technologies are changing the environment a secondary education is obtained in, but in many ways students are obtaining more and more autonomy through the technological advancements making their way into schools, which in turn, changes the need for both teachers and a secondary education. While students cannot function entirely on their own, the changing landscape of education raises interesting questions as to what directions secondary and postsecondary education are going, and what role will both teachers and students themselves play in an evolving digital classroom.
Every year there is new technology being created and has been a factor of immense change worldwide, technology has proclaimed our present knowledge economy and given rise to a generation of students who have never known life without a computer. These changes will have a significant effect on higher education. With time to come, advanced technologies will put education within the reach of many more individuals around the world, and will allow greater specialization in curriculum and teaching techniques than ever before. But perhaps the most critical question facing the academic world is something far more fundamental: namely, what it will mean to be an educated person in the 21st century. Societies around the world will need to consider how to make the most of these new opportunities and thus ensure that they remain competitive in the global marketplace. 1)