Technology has had a huge growth period and continues to advance on a daily basis. As of 2023, it was listed that there are 4.95 billion internet users, 7.33 billion mobile phone users and currently 1.35 million tech startup companies around the world. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that educational institutions are getting in on the game and looking at technology-based options to make educational opportunities accessible and wider-reaching for students.
In the 1970s Australia was first introduced to the internet through ARPANET based in America aiming to further technology in the world. During this period a few Australian scientific companies were able to make connections via the international dial-up service through what was known then as the Australian Overseas Telecommunications Commission (OTC).
This was the beginning of the fledgling internet in Australia, despite the slowness of the telephone commission (Telecom, later Telstra) to meet the demands for the internet. Although it would be many years before it would be used by everyday Australians, it is now something the average Australian can’t live without and increasingly becoming a beneficial tool to classroom learning for students to complete assignments and learn invaluable information.
By the 1980s, Australia was steadily on the move with this emerging technology and email was becoming the new in-vogue trend. This continued to expand with many Australians getting in on the movement and discovering email to become a fast and efficient way of communicating through the written word.
Rather than writing a letter and putting it in the post, a person was now able to type a letter, business draft, assignment, etc. and send that through to another individual or company to be received instantly into an inbox which they can check at any time. The use of email is useful in classroom-based activities as it allows students working in groups to email the work to each other for viewing and checking.
Enter instant messaging, although still considered a relative newcomer to Australian technology and the world at large, has already shown its popularity with estimated billions of users utilising instant messaging platforms to communicate.
With well-known instant chat platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Skype topping the charts, it is clear why this format of communication is hugely important for the continued technological movement in Australia. Not only does it allow students to communicate immediately relating to their school work, it also makes communication around the world possible instantly, making somebody wanting to study from outside that country possible.
Zoom (video conference / lectures)
To move on from instant messaging, the next step in this development has been online video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and more recently Microsoft Teams. These platforms used to only be available to high-level multinational companies who could afford “fancy” software.
With the advent of the smartphone and faster internet connections, this was already becoming a possibility for the everyday citizen, however, Covid-19 really pushed companies and educational providers to find alternative ways to develop their wares. Zoom, arguably the most popular video conferencing platform, is user-friendly and free for 30-minute intervals (longer with a paid account). This makes it possible for trainees to attend learning from the comfort of their own homes anywhere in the world.
The term blended learning has evolved over the years and really took off because of covid-19 pandemic with education institutions being forced to think outside the box to allow themselves to continue to educate next-generation Australians.
Flexibility is one of the biggest attractions of blended learning; it allows students to create a timetable that works best for them with the possibility of studying both face-to-face and via technology components.
Many educational institutes are researching and starting the blended learning mentality along with placing ample resources online allowing the student instant access to this information, with course materials increasingly available online along with the submission of assignments.
Universities offer blended learning opportunities such as the Master of Education to support the next generation of students with their technology journey, whilst also continuing to learn by themselves.
Technology is becoming part of many students’ everyday lives with an estimated 600,000 new internet users each day. Along with digital skills fast becoming more and more necessary across all industries so an even higher demand for students to be “tech savvy” from a younger age.
Research through the Department of Industry, Science and Resources has shown that 87% of jobs in Australia will require higher digital literacy skills by 2025 and by 2034 technology will be extended to 4.5 million Australian workers. This showcases the extreme need for Australian students to learn from a much younger age about technology and how it works.
Reasons why students need technology in the classroom
As a result of technology continuing to steamroll ahead, learning platforms need more access to technology in the classroom. This will allow students to experience real-world possibilities whilst preparing them for the modern Australian workplace which incorporates digital literacy, adaptability, and flexibility.
Additionally, this promotes global and cultural awareness, supports varying learning styles, teaches students responsibility whilst being online and adds a “fun” factor to learning as the trainer can incorporate activities such as games, quizzes and online polls and surveys to break up the learning day.
In today’s climate, the only thing anybody can say with certainty is that change in technological advances is constant and ever-accelerating. Training institutions need to keep up with these changes to ensure they are fully preparing their students for the real world and giving them the best opportunity to gain meaningful work.
The only way to ensure this is properly achieved is to ensure that training remains up to date with technology and provides ample opportunity in their learning environment for their students to utilise and understand each development.