What Is Educational Technology and Its Benefits?

March 19, 2019 • Zachary Amos


Today’s schools have come a long way from the time where teachers lecture students from the front of classrooms as those learners furiously scribble notes on sheets of paper with their pens or pencils. Thanks to educational technology, educational experiences are more diverse, making them suitable for different learning styles. You may also hear people refer to these developments as instructional technology or learning technology.

So what is educational technology, and how can it help students and teachers?

The Basics of Educational Technology

Educational technology encompasses the strategic use of tech tools to enhance the ways people learn and the methods teachers use to dispense information. For example, instead of writing notes in a notebook, a student might have a laptop in class and use it to make notes in a cloud-based storage system. Then, it’s easy to review or edit those notes from anywhere without needing to access a notebook.

When schools weigh whether to implement technology in the classroom, they must determine if the potential use would genuinely be beneficial or if it could be overly distracting or time-consuming. When they do that, it’s much easier for them to find success with tech.

Now, let’s look at some thought-provoking ways to use technology in the classroom.

1. Using Artificial Intelligence to Measure Learning and Intelligence

Many adults still have bad feelings when they recall having to take tests that involved indicating their answers by filling in bubble shapes with their pencils. Such a method can be so overwhelming that some very smart learners are poor test takers and give people the wrong impressions.

Bill Gates called artificial intelligence (AI) his Holy Grail technology and discussed a day when machines may be smarter than humans. But there are also instances where AI could help measure humans’ intelligence levels.

The people interested in furthering this work point out that there are many types of intelligence, and it’s not always possible to measure them with those fill-in-the-bubble tests. AI could take a close look at how and when learning happens. Using that information, learners could get content that’s more suitable for how they understand and retain information.

2. Turning to Technology to Spread Information

One of the most convenient ways to use technology in class is to ensure people get the information they need. Some teachers have private electronic networks that they use to talk about conferences, continuing education credits, challenges with students and more. It’s also common to use social media services like Twitter to remind students about homework assignments or urge parents to pay class trip fees on time.

Facebook is among the companies investigating how social media could drive productivity, especially with the help of AI. Even if teachers don’t use AI, it’s not hard to see how social media helps them spread information more quickly than they likely could through other means.

3. Making Lessons More Fun and Memorable With Tech Gear

Teachers have a wide assortment of gadgets they can use to facilitate learning. As a start, there are wireless 3D printers, intelligent whiteboards, portable projectors and virtual reality headsets. These items can immerse students in learning and help the lessons become more interesting and interactive.

Some uses of this kind of tech help give more opportunities to learners too. For example, they could use technology to “visit” famous museums such as the Louvre Museum, even if traveling to France to see that attraction is out of the question due to cost and distance.

4. Reducing Teacher Workloads and Student Stress Through Digital Submissions

Teachers have heard the “dog ate my homework” excuse too many times for most of them to believe it, but it’s worth remembering that there are valid issues that could hinder a student from finishing their assignments. Maybe they spilled a soft drink on a worksheet or realized that they left a handout on the bus when they were looking it over on the way home.

These realities are why many schools are moving toward allowing students to digitally submit their work, thereby eliminating the stress of lost or damaged paperwork. At one school in the United Kingdom, students provide their assignments through a cloud-based service, and teachers use technology to help teach two subjects. School administrators who take similar approaches may get even more value by using AI.

Artificial intelligence can do some things better than humans, illustrating why Bill Gates had such a public interest in it. After students send their work through a digital system, AI can look for patterns and correlations that teachers sometimes miss without help.

For example, an AI tool might notify a teacher that a student has received progressively worse grades over the past six months. That educator might examine the issue more closely and reach out to the child to see if there are problems at home or in the individual’s personal life that triggered the decline.

An Exciting Future for Educators and Learners

This list briefly covers some of the reasons people use tech in the classroom and how it helps. As such, answering the “What is educational technology?” question is not straightforward, but the responses will likely change as more people implement it and see the results.