Smart learning with smart technology

Ahmad Faizuddin, Selangor, Malaysia | Opinion | Sat, November 09 2013, 11:28 AM

Indonesia is one of the world’s largest consumers of technological gadgets. When a new “smart” product is launched, Indonesians are most likely the first in line to get their hands on it. Despite the high price, many have high-tech televisions, smart gadgets and other advanced devices.

Everything today is “smart”. Smart phones, for instance, have surely increased the smartness in our daily life.

Likewise, in the field of education, smart learning and smart classrooms have been implemented at smart schools. Here students are engaging with computers, smart-boards and the latest — smart books.

Does all this supporting equipment help students perform better? What are the challenges in implementing this kind of innovation? Should technology be integrated into the new curriculum?

Quoting EducompOnline, let us imagine “What if books could talk, numbers could form equations, Achilles could fight the Trojan War, Caesar could die saying ‘Et Tu Brute’, Earth could tilt planes?”

Through such 3D multimedia modules and animated lessons, students do not just read a book or calculate a formula or learn history and science, but they are involved: Constructing and reinventing subjects in the classroom. Wouldn’t learning this way will be better and more fun?

Why make learning fun? It is because the essence of learning is the joy. Moreover, learning is about exploring new things. The new age learner is also tech savvy. We can see people everywhere busy with gadgets exploring the Internet and other new innovations.

Information and communication technology has also solved the space limitation issue, especially at schools. The machines grow smaller, yet contain more information. We used to bring many books to school, but now most of them are online or are eBooks.

The Internet and eLearning are among the new visions in education that will become common in the future. They change our boring system into smart and interactive environments. But are educators ready to take part in this new innovation? This is actually one of the challenges facing educational managers.

Some might argue that our education is incompatible with technology and innovation. We can see it at the university level, with many educators continuing to hold on to print and deliver lectures without a computer presentation.

They might question the need to change the old methods: “I enjoy teaching this way as my students do”.

Indeed, technological innovation has shaken old traditions, yet one thing to remember is that it cannot exist without theory. Therefore, the old philosophy remains, but the method should be modified as technology advances. Why should we resist?

Another challenge is putting the right man in the right place. In Indonesia, as is true in many countries, we tend to talk about “technicality” but rarely touch on the issue of “expertise”. For example, assigning a librarian to resource center might change the effectiveness of the center.

The uphill challenge is whether students can afford sophisticated technology such as smart books? Schools actually could provide the stuff if they manage their budgets.

Educators need creativity to use their available resources. Even with a simple word processor we can develop creative learning activities.

Regarding the new 2013 curriculum that eliminates science, some parents have expressed concern that it will lead to technological underdevelopment. Science is a practical subject and students understand new things through science. But of course we should instill good values into its teaching and content.

I agree that smart gadgets will help students improve their learning experiences, although it does not mean they will become smarter. Hence, let us use smart gadgets smartly.

Consider those with diverse needs, but do not forget those with no needs as well.

The writer is a graduate of Ar-Raniry State Islamic Institute in Banda Aceh and Ohio State University, the US