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Technology Today



Within the past two years, Coursera has gained a considerable level of popularity due to its approach that focused on providing a free online learning experience for students around the world and was a direct result of inter-university collaborations by Ivy League institutions in order to innovate the current way in which teachers and students approach the concept of education. From this example alone it can be seen that there have been legitimately fruitful efforts established by universities to utilize technology in a way that is completely outside of their internal cultures in order to create an entirely new teaching and learning experience.


On the other hand, when examining the case of the methods utilized to teach English and Information Technologies to Australian students in grades 5 and 6, it can be seen that technology was used a means of speeding up the process through the distribution of course materials and the creation of computerized learning tools. However, the basic format by which students learned was still the same regardless of the technologically based methods used to teach them. It is based on these two approaches towards the use of technology that this article will delve into the potential use of video conferencing as an educational tool in Australia and will seek to determine whether it will bring about an educational revolution or will more or less follow the same format used by teachers in standard face-to-face classrooms.


Tradition Versus Innovation


When looking at the interactions between technology and the culture of education in Australia, one notion that becomes apparent is that it is the very culture within the system of education that ascribes to a set of strict fundamentals and organizational practices that limits the ability of technology to be sufficiently innovative in implementing new practices and organizational change within institutions of learning.


Within most schools in Australia, the website Scu.edu.au explains that technology acts more like a tool that reinforces current practices and implements already intended changes yet still conforms to the very same unperturbed internal culture.


This is in stark contrast to the achievements accomplished by collaborations such as Coursera.com wherein students actually become participants in the discussion and teaching process through the establishment of student forums for discussion, the implementation of lessons wherein students check each other’s papers as well as the establishment of online social groups where students actively participate in offline study groups in order to better internalize the lesson material. Such practices can be noted as a use of technology in a way that can be considered as revolutionary and outside of the educational norm.


Potential Use of Video Conferencing in Mainstream Education


When examining the potential use of digital education through service providers like BlueJeans for conferencing in AU, it can be seen that its potential is similar to that of Coursera.com wherein it may become a viable model for future practices in education. For example, students could take various class modules online via video conferencing and discuss the topic with their peers on the forum created by the school.


With the distribution of iPads and various tablet devices within the student population of various Australian schools such a strategy could potentially supplement the teaching methods utilized within classroom environments wherein teachers help to reinforce and clarify ideas that students are initially unfamiliar with through the use of video conferences that can be joined from the comfort of one's own home rather than having to explain every aspect of the lesson within the class. Teaching-Learning.UTAS.edu.au states that through the use of various online quizzes and lessons using video conferences, a teacher can gauge the overall level of understanding of students regarding particular lessons and create a lesson plan the next day to address such issues. Not only that, schools could create specific video conferencing sessions for students that have been identified as lagging behind and, as such, by providing them with the means to catch up over the weekend or after school by joining a short video conference session, this would enable them to want to study more in the future.


Overall, by establishing the aforementioned methods, this can create a better and more efficient way of addressing the process of education by utilizing technology as more than just a simple extension of present day learning processes. However, the acceptance of video conferencing as a revolutionary process rather than an added tool to be utilized at will is likely to take a significant amount of time.


As explained by the University of Oregon, changes to current practices take time to implement and, as such, it is likely that the Australian system of education will take a considerable amount of time before it implements the needed changes to herald in a new stage of education centered firmly in modern technological practices.


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