In the era of Web 2.0, we now live in a world in which technology consumes our lives; the exhaustive list goes from having prepared meals delivered to your doorstep in one click to the extent of working mothers monitoring their children through baby cams from behind their office desks.
Tech has played a major role in shaping, or re-inventing various industries, such as in the case of Kodak when photography went digital, encyclopedias being displaced by the creation of Wikipedia, and MOOC, massive open online course substituting schools and universities.
Although it is undeniably clear that technology has only begun to revolutionize the education industry, the essence of physical interaction and engagement still remains vital in the learning process. To put technology into good use within teaching institutions or rather to invest in our future, tech giants, Google and Apple have taken the lead in setting up their own philanthropic initiatives.
Chris Yerga, an engineering director at Google said in the I/O developer conference that the effort was “built from the ground up to meet the content needs of educators”. Launched only 3 months ago, Google Play for Education aims to create seamless education in the cloud, with a suite of apps and management tools respectively catered to students, teachers, and administrators. Google’s initiative has been tried out by several institutions around the world, including the University of St Andrews, Scotland’s oldest university. Here’s their part of the story and experience.
It may appear that the big two are going head to head in bringing the learning industry to the cloud. Apple is already providing apps through its App Store and the distinctive iTunes U, home to more than 500,000 free lectures, videos, books and other resources. Here’s the profile of Northwest Kansas Technical College who faced the challenge of stagnating enrollment until it turned over a new leaf by embracing Apple’s technology.
The prestigious Imperial Business School of Imperial College London took the same path in embracing Apple’s technology by introducing the “iPad Classroom” culture in its relatively new postgraduate course – MSc Strategic Marketing.
In the development of the new course, the program director, Colin Love explains that “instead of just being a marketing program where we trot out all the standard books”, the Business School has attempted to “turn it around into being something that focuses on the latest technology, communication techniques and social media networks”. Eight studies showed that iPads indeed improved education as seen in the case of students in an iPad tablet computer pilot program in a Riverside, California middle school achieved 20% higher math test scores compared to students using traditional textbooks.
As many proponents as there are for the endorsement of e-learning, there would be sceptical parents who question the outcome and consequences of Google and Apple’s initiatives, standing by their arguments that technology can be a distraction, or even harmful, and there is yet a concrete findings to show learning through apps in fact boost grades as opposed to traditional classroom teaching. Slowly but surely, future research and statistics will tell us where we are headed with technology in the education industry.
Featured Image Courtesy of Danielteolijr.
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