Technology As A Blessing To The Reading Culture - ETCSINES


Technology has and will continue to change all industries. Often, the effects of technology on any industry are seen mostly as disruptive in nature especially when it relates to job security for humans when some functions are taken over by robots. Take the transport industry for example; the predicted commercialisation of self-driving technology threatens millions of jobs across the world. Take the publishing industry for example. The rise of the online media has forced traditional publishing companies to rethink their business plans and think of how to survive.

A similar change is taking place in the education sector. The increasing use of technology is changing the manner in which basic processes in education are being carried out, this has in turn affected the enthusiasm of students towards reading and learning. Here are some of the most profound ways how technology has changed  and influenced education  and reading amongst Nigerian students so far.

1. Increasing accessibility
One of the most profound ways in which technology has changed education is that is has made it more accessible than the way it was a few decades before. It is now possible for anyone to access formal educational courses, thanks to online courses. In practice, institutions of higher learning now offer a number of their courses on an online basis.

Also, we now have fully-fledged universities that thrive by offering all their courses online. As a result of this process, it is now easy for anyone to access a desired educational course online. Thus, technology has broken the geographical barriers that limited access to education in the past. In this aspect, the Nigerian environment still has some hurdles to scale like cheaper internet and data access and also stable and available electricity supply. A lot of processes that took several hours and the necessity of gathering in one office or at a particular time of the day can now be done entirely online which allows the diligent student to actually manage time effectively.

2. Flexibility
As a result of the rise of online courses, it is now easy for anyone to learn at their own pace, rather than being forced to adhere to strict timelines.  Technology has made it possible for individuals to learn from anywhere as opposed to the way things were before when individuals had to travel to physical schools to access education.

Interestingly, online learning means that people can learn at varying pace, depending on their ability and the amount of time that they are willing to devote to their learning effort. Given learning materials are delivered to learners online, learners can schedule their learning timetables as they wish. This allows student to easily augment their reading list by accessing similar contents and thereby enriching their learning experience.

3. Interaction between teachers and students
In the past, teachers relied on actual meetings and lectures to interact with their students. It was only during physical meetings that teachers could deliver learning materials and instructions to learners. However, nowadays, this kind of absolute dependence on physical meetings is gone.  It is easy for teachers and learners to stay in touch via email and other internet-based services such as file-sharing and Instant Messaging applications. It also makes it easier for student to reach out and get solutions even from people they scarcely know. There are some sites that provide answers to questions while other can even connect the student to a qualified consultant in that field for a considerable fee.

Although the need for physical meetings between teachers and students remains vital, technology has provided a means in which teachers and learners remain in touch all the time and can achieve a lot without meeting physically.

4. Online Tests and Assessments
It is now possible for institutions to test their learners online. Furthermore, institutions can now assess the ability of their learners online and determine the performance of the learners, without necessarily requiring the learners to attend physical assessment sessions. A typical example is the style of taking JAMB exams now, I remember when I was scheduled to take the exams some years ago I had to locate a physical school and be in the exam hall to collect my type of subject combinations. In today's reality, the exam is taken in accredited centres and entirely online. I would not be surprised that with better advancement in technology and improvements in our power supply and internet data speed, people can actually in the future take the exams from the comfort of their homes.

Apart from the obvious advantage of flexibility, e-assessments as they are now commonly known, have the reputation of being highly efficient and impartial. Students can now use e-assessments to accurately gauge their performance. Similarly, education institutions can accurately and efficiently assess their learners using online assessments, thus saving time, money and other resources in the process. 
A student can actually read and subject himself to online assessments to be able to evaluate his rate of understanding in a particular course, it enhances self development and discipline.

5. New Content
Technology has made it possible for learners to access new content easily. For example, it is now possible for learners to access e-books from anywhere and at any time. Besides, we now have digital versions of many popular textbooks. Although some of the free digital versions of important textbooks are not complete, they still make it easy for learners to access content online.
More so, we now have full eBooks versions of popular textbooks. Learners now do not have to own hard copies of their textbooks for them to get the learning content. E-Books continue to revolutionise the way learners access and use content as part of the learning and teaching process. In addition a lot of self help video and audio files are available for download  and are capable of practically teaching a lot of things which drastically improves the student's intelligence quotient.

6. Special needs in education
For years, special needs have been an important issue in education. It is easy for the traditional classroom environment to work against the interests of learners with special needs. Either way, the highly standardized and often rigid procedures that learners and teachers have to go through in the traditional classroom environment may fail to address the individual needs of some learners.

On the contrary, the highly flexible, interactive and accessible nature of digital learning provides a wonderful environment for individuals to learn in ways that suit their personal needs, capabilities or even challenges. More so, teachers can now use various technology applications to help learners with particular needs learn better.

7. Lifelong learning
Gone are the days when people would forget everything about education the moment they stepped out of college. In the current knowledge-driven world, people have to learn new skills all the time. Learning is now part of life for everyone. New demands at work mean that people have to learn new ways of doing things. It would be unwise for any student in this digital age to just learn about his own field and rerstrict himself to it. It has now become imperative that the effect of the internet and especially the social media platforms on our various choices of course and career should be researched on and understood to help us fit in evolving careers.

Similarly, emerging life issues force people to acquire new sets of skills all the time. The good news is that with the rise of new technology-based educational courses individuals can learn almost anything at any time. Thus, technology has made learning a truly life-long activity.

8. The rise of mobile learning content
Mobile learning applications help learners to access content on their mobile devices. The rise of mobile learning can be traced to the changes regarding internet accessibility that are taking place currently. In the recent past, leading tech companies such as Google and others have been emphasising on the growing importance of mobile devices. Their underlying belief is that people are increasingly restoring to using mobile devices to access the internet. Therefore, the argument has been that content providers should focus on optimising content for mobile viewing.

These changes are affecting education in various ways. However, primarily, we are now experiencing the rise of developers and content providers who are developing mobile-focused education apps and content respectively. Interestingly, it appears that we are set to experiencing this trend over the coming years. A lot of software applications are now available to help the student actually do almost anything on the mobile device, it encourages the development of new interests at ourconvenience.

9. Making learning fun again
One of the main ways in which technology has changed education and reading patters relates to the various forms in which learning content is now delivered. As a result of technology, it is no longer necessary to stick to using one form of content in the process of teaching and learning. Teachers can now use videos, animations and other forms of content to enhance the process of learning.
Furthermore, it is now common for learners and teachers to use games as a way of enhancing the process of learning and teaching. As a result of the use of various forms of content, learning, reading and teaching are now fun and more meaningful than the way it was in the past.

10. Cost reduction
Technology has contributed to significant reductions in the costs of accessing education. A diligent student with a reasonable data package can access millions of electronic books, textbooks, articles and  write ups in his line of study. Books with retail prices of over 10,000 naira can most times be downloaded free of charge or for a scandalous price the equivalent of 500 naira. To education providers, the use of technological applications to change the manner in which basic processes are conducted has led to drastic reductions in the amount of money the institutions spend.

The advantages that the advent of technology has brought to the educational sector and the ability of students to read and learn in a more advantageous environment and even from the comfort of their rooms is tremendous and overwhelming and can not be easily captured entirely in this write up. 

In conclusion, this advantage of technology on our educational sector and our reading habits will not be utilized by everybody and may even be underutilized especially by students, but I know that every diligent, bright and computer literate student will agree with me that this advent of technology is the advantage and the leverage we need to make our names unforgettable and  outstanding in this generation. Thank you.

Writer: Tola Arawomo

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