Education and Technology: What Did We Learn in 2011?

EDTECH CHALLENGE | by Jesse M. Langley

When compared to previous years, 2011 saw many incredible advancements in the field of education and technology that are certainly worth repeating as we prepare for what is to come in 2012. Although the year was certainly not free from hardships and struggles, the gains we have made have taken us further than many experts could have predicted. To stay motivated to surpass our achievements in 2012, let’s highlight some of the most notable developments in education and technology in 2011.

New research validating the quality of online education

According to a study published by the Pew Research Center, the growth of students participating in online bachelor degree programs is creating more favorable opinions toward the efficacy of this academic medium. The study revealed that, in the past ten years, 46 percent of graduates reported to have taken at least one online class while in college. Among this pool of students who have taken an online class, 39 percent claimed that this format was of equal educational value to courses taken in a standard classroom setting. Although this statistic hasn’t reached the half mark yet, it is still an increase from previous polls. Furthermore, 51 percent of college presidents claimed that online courses provide the same value, which indicates a positive trend toward validating the quality of online education.

Integrating Skype into academic environments

Skype in the Classroom was introduced in 2011, providing the opportunity for students from all over the world to interact and learn from one another through video conferencing. Both teachers and students in the United States are now able to collaborate with other educators and students across the globe to improve global outreach and understanding of different cultures. In addition to improving outreach, the tool is both economically efficient and highly engaging for students.

The Legacy of Steve Jobs

The death of Steve Jobs this past October served as a reminder of the innovations he contributed to the field of education technology. Although many of his devices were designed for general purposes like improving convenience and communication, his dedication to integrating technology into the classroom was revolutionary. Throughout his career, Jobs worked toward a smarter society by encouraging the use of, and providing the provisions for, technology in the classroom. From incorporating the first Apple computers into schools to encouraging the use of iPads in the classroom, Jobs’ influence on education technology was and will continue to be incredibly significant if not revolutionary.

Leaving the SAT behind

Eighty-five years after its introduction in 1926, the SAT came under scrutiny last year for its tendency to favor affluent students above those from lower socio-economic classes. This concept was first introduced by professor Joseph Soares, who published a best-selling book about the subject titled “SAT Wars.” In addition to this book, several top institutions abandoned the requirement of submitting SAT scores for high school applicants, which gave more students the opportunity to fulfill their academic potential in college despite a lower score on just one test. This trend not only has an influence on college acceptance, but on the debate of the nature of intelligence in general.

2011 was a year full of educational and technological shakeups, but it was also a year of innovation and progress. It’s clear that 2012 could be as eventful and exciting as the year before.

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Jesse M. Langley is a contributor for EdTech Digest covering challenges educators face integrating technology into education and solutions that make sense. Write to: jessemlangley@gmail.com

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