Learning and Technology - What a Wonderful Phrase
Sameer Chaturvedi, Division 2, 12th grade #ws17e-s2d2

Pragmatism and productivity are subsets of importance, and nothing brings out these qualities more than learning through technology.

Learning and technology has a myriad of implementations, but the common ground of them all is the Internet.

Though the ubiquitous internet is no longer truly considered a “Technology”, I refuse to disrespect its power and influence by not selecting it as the most important technology. Aside from recreational, communicative, and explorative purposes, the most important use of the internet is the quotidian act of learning.

The apparent harmony between Learning and Technology seems too obvious to be debated. By nature, learning is an ever evolving process, adopting techniques that learning itself produced. My introduction to this essay does not require an omnipresent quote from a celebrity elucidating the need for this aforesaid harmony, but an extract from a poem I wrote for my school encapsulates my personal experiences with ‘Learning and Technology’:
“While knowledge is a requisite of true power,
There’s room for improvement, so we mustn’t cower.
The rise in productivity! O, you’d be amazed -
Learning and Technology, what a wonderful phrase.”

Moving to India for 7 years of my educational journey has given me a unique perspective on the relation between technology and schooling. In the US, the marriage of technology and education is acknowledged and appreciated. Here in India, however, such ideas have generally been encountered with scoffs and sighs. Arguments are made that tech proves to be more of a bane than a boon, which is a large assumption to make.

I visit the US quite often and see how my friends’ and cousins’ schools have adopted techniques to implement technology in quotidian learning - from online lectures, to digitized coursework - all in the cloud in the internet. I was impressed by how each student is given a tablet or a laptop for the year, with in-built restrictions, to maximize productivity.

Though this large degree of implementation is not currently possible in a developing nation like India, baby steps must be taken to progress forward. The Indian education system has been plagued by external tuitions and a desperate race for the highest marks. Emphasis on learning beyond textbooks is scarce among the perennial exams. We are constantly told to “stick to the syllabus” and not explore topics that won’t be tested in exams, out of the fear that our scores will deteriorate. This is primarily where the internet most positively impacts education.

A deep breath of intellectual freedom will be exceedingly beneficial to my community, and lead us on the right path to progress. I want my community to accept and admire technology and learning as a medium for improvement. A lot of my education in the past years has been online through youtube videos, educational podcasts, and science articles. I’ve always been excited by the limitless potential of tech in education, because I have firsthand experience of its benefits.

My (seemingly obvious) clairvoyance in trusting the future of Learning and Technology proved correct when, In the seventh grade, “Educomp smart class” whiteboards were installed in all of our classrooms. It was an admirable initiative, meant to serve the purpose of teaching through visual media, learning by interaction with presentations, and to take us beyond the hardcovers of our textbooks. Initially, it was solely used for a “break time” during a gruelling class. Soon, our biology teacher saw the use in it, and she showed us a myriad of videos on the Internet pertaining to germane topics. The clear visual depictions of of our circulatory system on video helped us easily comprehend the topics at hand. Other teachers followed suit, and visual representations of the Harappan Civilization, Van De Graaff generators, and more, made our classes interactive and exciting.

My vision on the intercept of technology and education comes from the viewpoints of two largely dissimilar nations. In India, the primary argument against this integration is the inability of most schools to afford internet to make the transition to digitized education. In today’s society, however, internet is found in all corners of the world! When I went to volunteer as a teacher for underprivileged children in a dilapidated Indian village, I was surprised when the children asked for my phone number to stay in touch through internet based messaging applications I hope that email, videos, and online coursework become common enough for classes to be infinitely more productive.

Technology is advancing at breakneck speed, and very soon, physical classrooms will be replaced or supplemented by virtual lessons, anytime, anywhere. Virtual and Augmented reality will help us escape the confines of a 2-dimensional textbook world and make learning an interactive experience. The future is bright for technology in education. Google glass was ahead of its time, and as wearable technology progresses, tech will be an integral part of our own bodies. Restrictions based on location or the body will no longer stymie chances to learn, as we already see students from all over the globe graduating in online courses. Life-like holograms will one day be able to depict the intricacies of DNA strands, or bring quasars right in the classroom. 3-D printing will bring pragmatism through hands-on experiences, eliminating any pre-existing logistical obstacles. What binds all these innovations together? That’s right - the Internet.

Learning, however, does not limit itself to education in school systems. Learning is an incessant process utilized in our quotidian routines. The internet allows us to more easily and thoroughly learn sports, cooking, music, and so much more. Flight simulators have bred expert pilots, demonstrative VR surgery videos have produced confident doctors, and online art tutorials have engendered creative designers.

My vision is that the capabilities of the internet will be explored and appreciated, at any degree, ubiquitously - whether in leaps, or baby steps. Quoting another stanza from my poem:
“And as we improve, both mind and body,
To try and produce more revered visionaries.
The world is evolving, and we must make haste,
Learning and Technology, what a wonderful phrase.”
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