Technology has been said to be one of the easiest ways to solve the problems of educating children in the Philippines. For problems like crowded classrooms or worse, nonexistent classrooms, e-learning and digital technology has been one of the means to ensure that quality education reaches children even in the farthest regions of the country.
The timing is definitely perfect. Today’s students are what can be called “digital natives,” people who have never seen a time when digital technology hasn’t existed, and have been interacting with it, one way or another since early childhood. In our country alone, cellphones are no longer considered a luxury; they have, in fact, become a necessity. Handheld internet has also now become accessible to almost everyone, even people from far-flung regions of the country.
Given this situation, making the learning experience enriching and long-lasting for digital natives is for “digital immigrants,” the generation born before the advent of digital technology. For one, digital natives now have different styles of learning. At a summit last year, Eileen Lento, director for global education, marketing, and advocacy for Intel, said that “There have been significant research on brain activity that say that because of media exposure, children’s brains are literally wired differently than ours are. Children are still getting the same cognitive advancement that we are, but they’re processing the information in another way. It’s not better or worse; just changed. And it’s not just schooling; it’s their whole lives. It’s the experience they’re immersed in.”
Fortunately, narrowing the gap between digital natives and digital immigrants is an issue that many individuals and companies are addressing, making the prospects for the future of education more promising in many ways,
Teachers training in the use of technology as a teaching aid.
Teacher preparedness is one of the biggest factors in making sure that technology serves education. Luckily, more and more companies – both tech-based companies and non-tech-based companies are including teacher training as part of their advocacy, ensuring that the tools they have access to now are used properly.
One example is Intel, partnering with educators such as schools, , institutions, and NGOs in order to ensure there are sufficient training programs for the educators. Schools deciding to adopt a digital learning system now are assured that proper training is supplied for their use. In most cases, teachers are first given the devices for a specific time period and are trained in its use and facilitation, before distribution students. As of this writing, Intel alone has trained over 14 million teachers worldwide. In the Philippines, where both public and private schools are adopting digital learning systems in the implementation of the curriculum, most of which began with training their teachers in the use of the technology.
As a result, technology in the form of software programs, applications, and more help students improve math, language, and science skills, as well as increase creativity. Even more importantly, it is not only students who improve , collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity, but the teachers as well.
Hardware and software designed for education
Designers for tech hardware and software, now aware of the impact they have on education are increasingly conscious, and thus are constantly researching the requirements of educators, parents, and administrators for the classroom. As a result of this feedback, we now have hardware that includes spill-proof and fall-proof notebooks, laptops with handles and rounded corners for better grips, 180-degree screen views, rotating cameras, and long battery lives. On the software front, we have, for instance, software suites that allow schools easier control such as a classroom management application that helps the teacher still have control of the flow of lesson despite every student having his or her own device. And of course, the many applications for science, math, and art that make learning more engaging and encourage retention.
Access in remote areas
Powerful mobile devices have been proven as the solution to an ongoing problem—the existence of remote regions with no access to steady electricity and modern educational technology.
One successful Intel case study is that of Marilog Central Elementary School in Davao, which had no access to electricity. Through the initiative of its principal, the school received Intel support for the professional development of its teachershrough powerful mobile computing devices and training. To solve the electricity problem, the first phase of the project required installation of solar panels to power the devices, and afterwards, a server with cached information such as databases and learning applications.
Education as an advocacy
At the center of all these exciting developments, are, of course, the many corporations and individuals that make educating our children among their core advocacies. Companies like Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Dell, Acer, Samsung and Asus, among others are the most visible, given that these are the labels on the devices. But there are many more from the back-end like our telecommunications corporations, energy suppliers and of course, the small firms that focus on ensuring continuous growth in technology for education’s sake.
With the many systems, tools and programs being developed, the future of education has changed from bleak to bright. And driving the change are the ever-growing number of corporations and individuals who have put the student at the center of their work.