January 21, 2017
New technologies offer unlimited possibilities to make learning more effective, engaging and inclusive. Technology- if incorporated in formal education settings- can reshape the learning experience by making it more creative and innovative. Technology can offer access to quality education and individual learning- a much needed transition from the general population approach to learning needs. It is rather unfortunate that European countries are failing to use new technologies to meet the needs of learners. Data show that computers are barely used in lessons to do experiments or simulate natural issues. Technology represents a source that is the key to learning and instruction in the new era (Garben, 2012), its incorporation into learning is the promise of making learning less formal and more suitable for the developments of the new era.
One example of European countries not utilizing the potential of technological developments is their lack of involvement in the MOOC-s. In the last years we have seen the emergence of MOOC, known as massive open online course, which offer unlimited access for individuals to courses provided in the web. Unfortunately, studies show that only 9 European Universities are involved in such initiatives. In order to encourage this form of learning, EU structures are considering recognizing the competencies learned online.
A second example of how technological development can be applied to increase efficiency and quality are the e-learning networks through which researchers are able to share knowledge, practices and research results in a manner that exceeds boundaries-national and cultural.
While technological developments are applied to various fields, with much success, experts agree that we are long way from applying these approaches to formal education settings (Cox, 2013). The application of technology in education can result in a learning setting were the student is the center of the process, the information is related to real life issues and topics and the learning process is adapted to individual characteristics of learners (i.e. learning styles). It is often argued that this approach is critical to promote higher-order thinking, information-reasoning skills and collaborative learning in learners. The technology has untapped resources to improve the quality of instruction, by promoting access to unlimited number of sources in comparison to the professor as a only source of information (Carlson, 2002).
This transition is not an easy one, primarily because it implies the fundamental transformation to a new form of learning which is incredibly different from formal learning. In formal education the learning experience is monitored and subjected to quality control, specifically, educational establishments and bodies oversee quality of the curriculum and its application. In non-formal and informal settings it is not clear if the knowledge that the learner has acquired is reliable, if the information was useful or misleading, and if the learner was able to build knowledge and understanding over a topic. To illustrate, if a student used the internet to solve a question, this informal learning experience depends on his prior skills, abilities, and knowledge, and is unique to every person (Cox, 2013). This is exactly the biggest critique towards non-formal and informal education- their tendency to tolerate incomplete knowledge, formation of knowledge which may well be unnecessary, based on misleading or biased information, and a learning experience that goes unmonitored. It is always a risk that the education output of such systems – if they are not monitored – is a labor force with incomplete knowledge which will never be able to contribute to the society and economy.Arif Shala