Technology has impacted almost every aspect of our lives including adult and higher education. Adult learners, like other students, all learn best in a variety of approaches and succeed best when their strengths are highlighted. It is the responsibility of the instructor to identify each student’s strengths and teach to those strengths; many times, technology can assist in this objective and provide both instructors and students with many benefits to enhance and reinforce the educational experience.
Technology in the Classroom
Technology has been used in training for years; it used to include VCRs, overhead projectors, and bulky desktop computers, but with the aid of technology advances, technology in the classroom has become endless. In the Era of Technology, students in a college classroom can be exposed to virtual reality training devices, PDAs and tablets, digital cameras, laptop computers, iPods, digital projectors, and smartboards. As adults we now have the opportunity to continue our professional development and training without ever stepping foot into a classroom by taking online courses. When considering the advantages and disadvantages of technology in supporting adult and higher education, three factors should be considered:
(1) Does the technology improve access to training?
(2) Does the technology improve the quality of education?
(3) Does the benefits of the technology justify the costs?
The integration of technology has been an ongoing challenge for years but the rewards for technology integration are well worth the struggles. Three learning theories that impact adult learners are the behaviorist approach, constructivist approach, and cognitivist approach; all three approaches can be enhanced with technology and can successfully enhance the educational experience for all students no matter what their strengths and weaknesses. The digital age can enhance liberal education if we make appropriate use of digital opportunities. The key to technology effectiveness is proper integration of the technology so that it enhances or reinforces a lesson plan rather than creating difficulties for the students or teacher such as technical issues or distractions. In a world that is dominated by technology, it is important for students to be introduced to various technological options and experience how they can be beneficial in both their class as well as real-world application. One of the biggest benefits with technology such as the Internet is that students have unlimited access to information. Internet, as well as virtual reality, PowerPoint, iPods, PCs and tablets, can also offer interactivity. One of the most common benefits of technology is how various technologies can be combined, for example, a teacher can place all videos, PowerPoint lectures, and assignments on the Internet for students to use at home as they continue to study outside of the classroom or workplace. Technology can also aid in the development of problem-solving skills as well as encouraging inquiry-based thinking, thus gaining a deeper understanding of the information presented in class. The greatest benefit of technology is that technology will continue to improve and change, offering instructors even more ways to deliver the information to their students, thus allowing all students the best opportunity to succeed no matter what their best learning methods.
Although technology offers a variety of benefits, there are disadvantages that need to be addressed before determining if and what technology can enhance adult learning. The most popular complaint with technology is the lack of professional development supplied to teachers and staff to help successfully integrate new technology into already pre-established curriculum and lesson plans. Technology can also provide distractions.
Technology in Training
When researching the different types of technologies available to enhance learning, a trainer must first determine their own knowledge of the technology and available professional development. Once the trainer is proficient with the technology, they must determine how integrate it successfully to achieve their ultimate goal. They must consider costs for technology, the time it will take to train the students in the technology, possible problems the trainer or students may encounter with the technology, and the ability for the students’ learning to be enhanced and not hindered by the integration of the technology. When identifying the needs for an adult course, a trainer must consider many factors that impact their students both in the class and outside of the class, such as the busy lives of the students; therefore, assignments and assessments can be a critical issue that should be addressed to help the adult students succeed. Another factor is that technology, especially for adults, can be overwhelming if it is a new experience for them. PDAs of tablets offer the best technology integration for adult courses for a number of reasons. The first is that many adults already have some experience with PDAs or at least some of their functions such as scheduling and calculating. The next is that the PDA will offer adult students a way to stay organized in the class and be able to track their professional, personal, and school workload. The third and probably the most important factor is that most adults have some experience with the software. Other benefits include taking all their class notes on the PDA, downloading lectures and videos, and accessing the internet. To be successful, technology needs to be integrated without the students even realizing it, so that the emphasis remains on the lesson and not on the technology.
Technology has become a fact of life in and out of the classroom. It is important to recognize that many types of technology can help students, if designed appropriately. It is the responsibility of trainers, executives, and instructional designers to understand that adults learn with a variety of approaches, and they must design the best opportunity for students to be successful in the trainings. Although there are disadvantages, effective technology can advance learning the same way technology has improved medicine, science, and our daily lives.Technology has impacted almost every aspect of our lives including adult and higher education. Adult learners, like other students, all learn best in a variety of approaches and succeed best when their strengths are highlighted. It is the responsibility of Higher Power Training to identify an organization’s strengths and teach to those strengths; many times, technology can assist in this objective and provide both trainers and students with many benefits to enhance the educational experience. Technology integration is a much debated topic in higher education. In this Era of Technology, people cannot avoid technology, whether its cell phones, plasma televisions, DVRs, etc. Although children are eager to learn and use these advanced technologies, adults are many times reluctant to venture out to the unknown and experience new technologies because it can be intimidating and overwhelming. Thus, it is crucial for teachers and trainers, who teach adults, to identify the appropriate technology integration to reinforce and encourage learning rather than to intimidate and distract adult learners.