Technology has made inroads into all aspects of our lives, and the field of education is no exception. Just as BYOD (bring-your-own-device) has picked up as a trend in the corporate space, schools are also facing a similar situation. Students and faculty carry their own devices, and are keen to use them, both in pursuing and dispensing knowledge. This brings two issues to the fore.
Firstly, most educational institutions had been aiming to achieve the ‘one computer per student’ target but were falling short of realising it. Now, with students bringing their own smartphones and tablets, this initiative looks easier to achieve, especially given the choice of devices. However, the legacy systems running on outdated technology would be unable to support the one-to-one program or the sudden increase in bandwidth requirements. Schools therefore face the formidable task of upgrading their IT systems despite having limited budgets and support. School IT teams need to understand the type of traffic that their networks would support, and adopt security measures accordingly.
Secondly, the mindset of the education sector needs to undergo a huge shift by accepting the advent of technology in a positive light. Traditional learning methodologies will have to be reinforced with newer forms of pedagogy. While most students in today’s world are technology literate, very few have an understanding of how best to apply technology in furthering their education goals. Hence the current paradigm of the educator as the sole possessor and transmitter of information needs to change to a new one where the teacher becomes a facilitator coaching students to use technology and perform independent, individualized learning. Teachers must strive to create an educational experience where students are encouraged to interact with multimedia content. They should modify their traditional teaching methodologies to integrate Wi-Fi technology into the curriculum, turning it into an enabler of learning. School networks should allow streaming educational videos and other multimedia content while blocking unwanted traffic from gaming and social media sites.
Blended learning is the new roadmap to follow. Simply put, blended learning is a mix of online learning and offline instruction. It is seen as a means to personalize instruction within the classroom. If students are struggling with a particular topic, they can always look up supplemental resources online, and come back for a face-to-face discussion with their teacher. One of the biggest benefits of blended learning is its 24×7 accessibility. The ability to study anytime, anywhere removes all limitations imposed by time and location.
Modern education systems need to address the concept of lifelong learning. Information and communication technologies are likely to produce the career options of tomorrow. So it is essential that students are taught to self-learn using the technology available at their fingertips. The traditional teaching model assumes a passive role for the student, who is expected to merely absorb knowledge. But in today’s Wi-Fi- enabled scenario, with such a vast repository of knowledge and the internet easily available, teachers should guide students to master the ability to to find and analyze information, and then resourcefully apply those facts towards their learning objective. Providing the basic skill set to handle technology correctly would not only build the research and comprehension capabilities of students, but also prove useful in their higher education and professional careers.
Mobile wireless devices are set to revolutionize other aspects of education as well. In the near future one can expect interactive video technologies that allow parents to play a more participatory role in their child’s schooling. For instance, they can watch class presentations or sports performances via online videos. For educators, it would be a boon to track student scores and performances online as they could conduct live assessments and offer immediate feedback. Moreover, teachers can keep themselves updated with newer subjects for future education.
With such an objective in sight, schools are retrofitting their entire campuses so Wi-Fi is not restricted to the classroom. Adopting Wi-Fi as an education enabler provides several positive outcomes to students, including:
- Faster access to syllabi, course material, assignment schedules, and reference material
- Direct and quick communication with their facilitators, without having to physically locate them
- Awareness of general school information
- Enhancement in time management, record keeping, emailing, researching and group work skills
Early adoption of technology coupled with adequate faculty training can help truly empower both students and teachers across the education sector.