The goal of information technology is to create cost effective methods to deliver information more rapidly to everyday people. Naturally, IT and education go hand-in-hand. Just look at today’s classrooms versus the 1980s.
Many high schoolers were lucky to get basic typing skills on a typewriter. Today, adolescents are breezing through cloud-based Microsoft Office apps like it’s just another Sunday in the park.
Society has come a long way.
Begrudgingly enough, textbooks are still the norm in most classrooms today. Whether its primary school, middle school, high school or college, textbooks have seemingly become a staple of the modern educational process. With technology accelerating at such a rapid pace, why are students still being asked to lug around these heavy backpacks full of books?
Delivering educational materials to students in the information age
The simple solution to the textbook problem would be to give every student a PDF version of the book and ask them to look at the PDF anytime they needed to review the course material.
Not only would this save trees, most schools wouldn’t have to purchase the technology needed for students to read a PDF on a mobile device. Many schools, even down to the elementary level, are now instituting “Bring Your Own Device” policies for students.
The answer should be that simple but the issue becomes more complex.
Is giving digital copies of the books to the students on their mobile devices the best way to educate the student? While many educators are trying to reinvent the way educational books are being delivered, shouldn’t they be asking a more holistic question? How can education be delivered to students using technology in a manner that benefits them the most?
Students are already addicted to their apps and while nothing will ever replace having an expert in the classroom guiding students along their educational journey, couldn’t the educational process as a whole become a bit more streamlined? This starts with rethinking the educational books we require our students to possess.
Every student has a unique way of approaching a subject. For many students, it is proven that while they may retain the core lesson taught by a teacher, they are prolifically bad test takers. There’s a plethora of reasons why a student may fail a course and we have an abundance of technology at our disposal. How do we use this technology to bridge the gap and help under achieving students?
The answer is to introduce software as the premier learning apparatus for students versus making students listen to a lecture that may or may not contain content written in the educational book.
Increasing engagement without textbooks
One of the biggest problems facing educators today is that they must develop ways to keep their students engaged in the content. Helping one student or a handful of students might be an achievable task, but how do instructors help dozens that may be struggling with a specific concept?
Educational software that uses cloud based artificial intelligence resources will be the next frontier. Instead of trying to sell textbooks, educational companies should use their own internal intelligence indicators to evolve with the new methods of information delivery for students.
If instructional book companies are unable to stay on the forefront of this opportunity, they will likely lose the edge as competition within AI driven educational software community continues to emerge. They will no longer need to sell textbooks, they might not even be in business!
Could educational book publishers face extinction?
Educational software is definitely not a new business. Look back to games such as Where in the World is Carmen San Diego to see how educational software has been ingrained in our society for decades.
The difference is that handheld wireless technology has matured rapidly alongside a populace that is savvy enough to use the devices.
Many parents have dedicated a tablet to their 3 and 4-year-old children in order for them watch movies on demand. The kids seemingly know which button to press to get the content they want.
This is the next generation and they will be primed to absorb educational materials in this manner. The real game changer is that these educational software vendors now have cloud computing and artificial intelligence on their side.
Consider this fact: Do you recall a time that you said that you’d like to visit a specific place and you began receiving advertisements for that specific place in all of your search engine results and websites you visit daily?
The cloud picked up certain analytics and tailored a response based on your voluntary or involuntary input. The educational world can benefit from this same sort of custom tailored approach to delivering information to students using educational software.
Cloud computing and AI for education
Cloud computing has evolved so much that it can create the profile of a person using a device and determine the best algorithms in which to deliver the information to the person operating the device.
From an educational standpoint, if you have a student that is having a hard time grasping a specific concept, a cloud connected educational app would pick up on this fact and query its internal database to see what methods worked for other students who had similar difficulties in the past.
If the algorithm is able to present the information in a manner that is clear and cogent to the student, the student is more apt to understand the concept and demonstrate the concept when it is time to conduct testing.
Rethinking the role of the educator
Educators will always have an important place in the classroom. What is the most important job of the educator? Is it to simply have high test scores so that your teaching practices aren’t under audit, or should the instructor find ways to deliver the information to the student in a way they will appreciate and understand?
The answer is probably both.
However, delivering information to students using technology of the future won’t mean that students are glued to tablets and never listening to an instructor.
Mobile technology can help alleviate the need for arbitrary assignments like homework. It can also prevent teachers from having to condense their materials into scantrons so that they aren’t spending all of their free time grading homework and tests.
The next wave of software applications will transform the classroom thus potentially making instructional books a historical artifact.
While instructional books will always be printed and archived, books shouldn’t be the only medium in which we deliver information to students. Especially if technology can streamline the delivery of the same information in a meaningful way.