To achieve equity in education, modes of learning must be more accessible. While political pressure to expand public education investment is essential, technology is the driving force behind quantum leaps in academic opportunity.
To make the point, let’s rewind the clock about 600 years to a time when books had to be written by hand. As a result, books were scarce and expensive. Only the very rich and powerful could access them, making education equity practically nonexistent. It was a technology gap of medieval proportions.
Then came along a man named Johannes Gutenberg, who invented Europe’s first printing press. Now, books could be printed rather than written by hand. That made them more accessible. Literacy rates soared, and learning spread like wildfire across the continent. Soon came the Age of Enlightenment, followed by the modern age.
The takeaway is that technology is a game-changer in terms of access to education. In modern times, developments in digital learning tools have been most impactful in terms of propelling accessibility of academic opportunities. Someone can earn a masters in data analytics online, learn a new language via mobile app, and attend classes happening halfway around the world, all thanks to increased accessibility to technology.
The following are six ways modern technology is making education more accessible:
The constraints of traditional classrooms are inherently limiting in terms of access. That’s because you have to be physically present to learn, which means having a reliable way to get there. For many folks around the world, classrooms are too far away or otherwise too difficult to reach for education to be practical. With virtual classrooms, accessibility is expanded by eliminating transportation and location as variables to consider.
Mobile Devices And Education
The accessibility of smartphones and tablet computer technology means having access to learning materials from anywhere you get an internet connection. While most people use their mobile devices for social media and entertainment purposes, the ability to access learning materials while riding the subway or submitting homework while waiting in line at the store is a fantastic advantage compared to the limited options of the past.
Language Learning 2.0
Whether you’re using translation apps to quickly decipher a recipe written in Mandarin or spending years learning Portuguese, the ability to access information in a foreign language via apps and software is incredible. In particular, translation apps can bypass an age-old obstacle in the effort to learn new information.
We take it for granted now, but access to the internet is the single greatest achievement in increased access to education. While it’s true that one of the most pressing challenges today is the fight against disinformation spread online, the benefits of having so much knowledge at our fingertips are worth the downsides.
Online Education Options
It used to be that exposure to information was limited by location; all the books in the world won’t do much good if there isn’t a library within 100 miles, and the choices made by the heads of a school district could determine whether or not students are taught particular subject matter. While these are still factors that could interfere with learning, access to information from digital sources means they hold less influence.
The knowledge and insights offered by a teacher in a traditional classroom setting are one-and-done affairs. While educators replicate their lessons over and over again, the ability to teach the material to more people depends on a repeat performance. But if their lesson is recorded and uploaded to the internet, it lives forever. The immortality of knowledge via digital technology means greater accessibility across time, as well as space.
Education equity is a significant issue that humanity must address. While active efforts to make education more accessible are essential, the development of technology and its prevalence will continue to serve as the primary engine behind greater access to knowledge.