Technology has undoubtedly transformed our lives. Our everyday gadgets now turn tedious actions into the simplest of tasks. Gone are late nights finding and fixing typos on a typewriter. Maps, watches and fax machines seem practically obsolete. And forget forgetting – you can now locate research, set alerts and reminders, and track your digital history – on one handheld device.
Today’s technological advancements have changed the way we work, function, and, ultimately, learn. And, like anything new, these technologies may fascinate, confuse or comfort us. But the impact they have had on education is obvious: the learner now has a clear advantage.
Here are some ways technology has changed since your traditional school days, so you can take every opportunity to learn where, when and how you want.
Spending hours at the library combing through card catalogs, only to find the book you need has been taken out, is now a thing of the past. A simple Google search can yield thousands of results on whatever topic you are searching for. If you are looking for scholarly resources to write a paper, you can access online databases and digital collections from around the world, remotely. Find subject and research guides, ask a librarian and discover “how to” do anything, in a seconds. With access to the world’s research only a click or tap away, you can now research projects and complete assignments easier than ever before, and never worry about what time your library (today, better known as your dining room table) closes.
Whether your preference lies with the traditional textbook or with an e-book version, the textbook landscape, and how you get them, has drastically changed from their bookstore days. Do you purchase your textbooks online, via MBS Direct? You can find out what books are required for your courses after inputting your course information. Or you can find your textbooks using the Thomas Edison State College Textbook Swap located in myEdison®, a forum designed to help students swap or sell textbooks for the College’s courses and exams. Perhaps you prefer to have a digitized textbook, and download the e-book right then and there, without experiencing any shipping time. With so many textbook format options, the days of “I forgot my book” are long gone.
No more scheduling traditional tutoring sessions that fit everyone else’s schedules - but yours. Through services like smarthinking.com, available for free to enrolled Thomas Edison State College students, you can connect to live tutors from any computer with Internet access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Get one-on-one help as you complete assignments or prepare for exams. Watch as your tutor demonstrates how to solve a complicated math problem, using a live, real-time virtual white boards. Submit writing assignments for feedback and suggestions, and receive detailed, personalized critiques focusing on content, thesis development and grammar. Online tutors, like smarthinking.com, can help you learn and understand any subject, wherever and whenever you need it.
The days of paper and pencil tests are over. While this method of testing is still an option, it does pose restrictions upon test-takers, not the least of which are time constraints, distractions and uncomfortable surroundings. Now, using a high-speed Internet connection and a webcam, online proctoring services like ProctorU allow you take tests in any comfortable location, at a time most convenient for you. When you schedule an exam, connect with a real person that will walk you through the exam process and help if you run into any technical issues. Exams are stressful enough, but with ProctorU’s seven-days-a-week service, they get better.
If you’ve ever spent long periods of time writing a paper, you may have experienced that after awhile, your focus wanes and your words just seem to blend together. And forget reviewing what you wrote – how can you, when you can’t even think straight? But what if you missed an important citation and accidentally plagiarized, or failed to identify a revision that could potentially impact your grade? Writing services like TurnItIn.com let you submit papers online and receive a generated report identifying any areas of concern, grammatical errors or potential plagiarism. You can then use that feedback to make the suggested changes to your work, after your focus has returned, of course, and thereby improve your skills to become a better writer.
What learning technologies have you seen develop over the past several years?