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Technology sees major boon in education since pandemic

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

by Henry McInerny

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Technology has been part of education for decades, but since the pandemic three years ago, its applications at every level have increased exponentially.

And while a lot of its uses are to the benefit of everyone, there is no doubt it has reshaped the learning landscape for both students and teachers.

Debby Marindin, an Instructional Technologist at the College of Charleston, believes it has had a positive impact.

“Students have told me that faculty who utilize technology can be very beneficial, and they have noticed that many more of their faculty are turning to technology to post all kinds of information and resources,” she stated.

Of course, there are some downsides to relying on technology.

“Many of these require the internet, therefore, some of these technologies are not useful if the internet is down or if there is poor connectivity,” she stated.

College of Charleston student Jaqueline Jevtich noted that she’s had issues sometimes with so much work being reliant on technology behaving.

“My wifi will constantly cut out, causing me to be late to meetings, online classes, or turning in assignments,” she said.

In fact, when the pandemic hit and schools and universities were forced to go online, the reliance on the Internet posed problems.

She elaborated on challenges highlighting the issues with the internet and some challenges were out of her control.

“The most difficult technology issues were the ones we could not control,” Marindin said. “Many were working from home, and all had a variety of internet service providers and bandwidth that was sometimes inadequate. Some faculty and students did not have updated equipment, therefore providing some loaners was a challenge.”

And that challenge was met with a lot of extra hours by instructional technologists training faculty and students.

“We provided a lot of coaching, training, created tutorials, responded to help-desk-tickets, phone calls, emails and stepped in to help with anything needed to ensure that we were doing everything we could to be sure things were running without a hitch,” said Marindin. “I can tell you firsthand that I worked 10-15 hour days and most weekends trying to ensure faculty knew how to get their courses up and running on Oaks.”

And since the pandemic, Mardinin believes the impact technology has had on teaching style and technique has been “huge.”

“I have noticed that many instructors are utilizing a Flipped classroom style,” she said, explaining that this is where students read, watch, listen and learn about something prior to class.

In fact, after the Pandemic, according to EdWeek Research Center, “66% of principals and district administrators increased their use of blended learning—a combination of face-to-face and digital instruction in classrooms.”

The question of whether students learn better with technology or if it can be distracting is a complex one.

Former College of Charleston professor Allison Zaubi has mixed feelings.

“It’s definitely distracting, but I think it’s the teacher's role to use those as teachable moments on how to use tech effectively but also how to continue to implement old school practices,” Zaubi said. “Like physically taking notes to try and keep them on track and engaged by taking notes, and taking active notes as a class. It takes discipline to focus.”

With the more recent introduction of Artificial Intelligence into education - such as ChatGPT - both students and professors are figuring out the best ways to use it.

While AI has been a great search tool and helpful writing tool in the corporate world, educators fear students will use it to do work for them rather than use it to help them do better work.

“As an instructor myself, I have found that students are using this technology to write their papers so learning to harness the power of AI has been something that even I have had to adjust for with students' assignments,” said Marindin. “AI is causing additional work for faculty because they fear students won’t learn as they will use AI instead of their own intellect, critical thinking, and work.”

But teaching students how to use it effectively for research, taking notes or even improving their work are beneficial uses that would be good to cover in the classroom.

“In the last few months they have added a AI Companion, which can take meeting minutes and even record action items,” Marindin added.

Besides the various challenges, Marindin believes that technology in the classroom will help students after they graduate.

“I also think that the increased comfort with educational technology helps students once they graduate as the work world is heavily embedded with technologies of all types,” she said. “Providing the opportunity to use many of the technologies helps students to prepare for careers even if it isn’t exactly the software they may use, it is the comfort level that promotes self-efficacy.”

Overall, Marindin believes the impact of technology in the classroom since the Pandemic has been beneficial and has left a lasting impact.

“I think there are a lot of possibilities to make things more accessible, interesting and improving education,” she said. “Being able to share screens with one another has become essential to effectively teach, train and communicate.”

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