The only thing that’s constant in this world is change; the last decade has seen a remarkable spurt in not just the growth of technology, but also in the way it’s being used. While the Internet has been around for more than thirty years now, it’s only of late that people are coming up with ingenious ways of utilizing this network that connects the whole world and reduces geographical distances. The Web has progressed considerably since the days of free email and chat software to include social networking sites, blogs, virtual worlds, instant update and other applications that together comprise the phenomenon that’s been christened Web 2.0.
The next stage of evolution saw blogs, which were used to air personal views and opinions, become focal points of discussions through comments and interaction between readers; social networking sites moved on from being places to connect with people you know to a common ground to share information and facilitate business and work dealings; virtual world games morphed into animated versions of real life where one could assume an alias (avatar) and take up an entirely different career, pursue an education, earn money that is accepted in the real world, and so much more.
The change we see is not so much in the technology that’s being used, but in the way it’s being used. Mobile phones, which were once just a mere replacement for standard telephones, are today compact all-in-one devices that are capable of doing just about any task that a sophisticated computer can do. Music players have turned into sophisticated gadgets that provide both video and audio files of lectures and classes. The changing face of technology has revolutionized the way content is delivered to the end user; from one to many, we have gone to many to one where a single student is able to access only what is relevant to his/her educational needs through the use of the Internet, WiFi devices and secure access systems.
Progress, as always, comes with its share of controversy, and not everyone is pleased with the interference of technology with education. Members of the teaching staff are taking exception to the fact that laptops and mobile phones in classrooms can be (mis)used to play online games, surf the net, chat with friends and just about anything except following the lesson and recording important points. As I said earlier, technology itself is not everything, it’s the way we use it – so used in the right way, gadgets and gizmos will carry education to higher levels.