Since the turn of the 21st century, we have seen an increase in the use of technology across different fields of study. For example, medical advancements such as the current development of Electronic Aspirin (that prevents migraines and headaches before they occur) and Robotic Check Ups (patients checked up by robot).
We have also seen progress in the field of artificial intelligence which is now allowing for the concept of self-driving cars, among other things, being commercially available in the very near future. Studies show that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. This means that current and future generations must be equipped with science and technology skills in order for them to be relevant in the future. Most physical jobs are going to be mechanized in the future, and a sophisticated level of thinking will be required, as opposed to physical abilities.
We have seen the increase of technology use in the education space as well. For example, there is a move away from conducting physical laboratory experiments to using simulations on a computer to conduct the scientific experiments. This has the benefit of being safer, and having a higher level of student engagement.
The importance of technology in education can’t be emphasized enough. Firstly, we are in and are headed further into a technology era where students that are comfortable with the use of science and technology are more likely to be employed and contribute positively to the economy. Secondly, the use of technology results in a more efficient education system. Teachers are able to work with other teachers online and learners get exposed to the internet and are able to harness their research skills at a very young age. This means that teaching and learning will occur at a faster pace.
Unfortunately, technology in education requires a huge time and financial investment. Especially in countries where technology experts are few and far in between. This investment may be from government and/or the private sector. In South Africa, we
have also seen the increase in the use of technology, for example, through the use of eBooks instead of physical books in some schools in Gauteng.
However, as a country, we are still far from full usage and benefits of technology in education. More especially in the rural provinces of South Africa.
For example, if eBooks were already implemented in all schools in Limpopo, we would not have had the textbook saga that we saw in 2012. The use of technology is in fact needed more in these provinces as the poor provinces tend to have low pass rates. You can read the Overview of Education in SA article for more information on this.
The use of technology comes with costs as the software/equipment has to be bought and maintained, and the teachers have to be taught on how the technology should be used for effective teaching and learning to take place. As mentioned before, this will require funding. This is still a major problem as mismanagement of funds in South Africa is still a problem.
Although South Africa is still far from reaping the benefits of technology in education, we are definitely in the right trajectory. One can only hope that more initiatives will be started so that we increase the rate of adoption of technology at all schools in South Africa, otherwise we may end up with an outdated and irrelevant education system when compared with our peers.