The need to offer advanced technology to learners in Canada especially through school activity increased in the 1980s and the subsequent decades. The manner of integration and the type of technology to be used were hindered majorly by insufficient funding and lack of technologically-qualified teachers. The swift growth in most sectors of the economy in Canada led to the introduction of computers and related technological components and was seen as the most appropriate technology to implement. The technology was viewed as a way of promoting the attainment of skills, career choices, and problem-solving by use of technology and familiarity with it as required by the increasingly advancing economy (Haché, n.d., p.2). This paper discusses the influence of technology on education including improved access to learning resources through the internet, preservation of learning material and negative impacts of the technology on education such as social media.
Although many researchers at the time recommended the use of technology in Canadian schools, there was no consensus on how to do that but many recommended offering incentives for educators to incorporate technology in particular computer-based learning as per the below research:
“…they recommended the creation of incentives for teachers to integrate technology, usually computer learning type of technology…” (Haché, n.d., p.4)
This saw educators partnering in the process with school administrators. Emergent technologies have offered Canadian education institutions with tools which permit educators and students to access educational content and information from various sources that were not accessible earlier on (Haché, n.d., p.6). This change was enhanced by the use of various educational technologies and tools such as the Learning Management Systems; online platforms providing a centralized space for creation, delivery, and management of courses or learning modules. This influences the education positively since students and teachers are now able to access anytime, at any place, and by many devices, a utility enabled by its set of tools. Technology has ensured that education content is easily accessible and free than earlier before given that the internet is almost everywhere, the increase in information repositories among other content utilities. For instance, when carrying out research, students can now access study resources to facilitate their research in a fast and reliable way that creates convenience for their research work.
Technology has supplemented the traditional resources such as books by the introduction of e-books, videos, graphics, simulations which have aided in content presentation and understanding by students (Howell & O’donnell, 2017, p.4). This is actually achieved through the use of mobile phones, tablets, notepads, and laptops among other hybrid devices. The aforementioned practice has brought significant impacts which include; enhanced student performance, improved communication in the school environment between students themselves and teachers, and enhanced educational experience. For instance, discussions can be conducted online whereby students can participate in the discussion forums using their laptops, tablets or phones at any place and time.
Use of computers, mobile devices, interactive whiteboards, and modern cameras has enabled teachers to easily teach and helped students to understand clearly. Technology has also enabled teachers to seamlessly implement new pedagogies and improved student participation, engagement, and learning. Further, and more importantly, technology has helped the education system by enabling even the physically challenged students to fully participate with the other students in educational activities (Howell & O’donnell, 2017, p.4). For example, learners with hearing problems can use visual technologies such as text, videos, and pictures to learn.
Technology has also helped in the preservation of learning materials since unlike traditional resources such as printed books, technological content they can be digitally accessed. The use of multimedia tools in education has enhanced delivery of explicit content by use of sound, text, animation, videos, and other graphic forms. This enhances learning by increasing the interest and attention of the learners. In addition, learners can easily access shared content through video-conferencing, group-emails, and virtual meetings with their teachers. In addition, the role of teachers has been eased while students have shown increased interactive participation in class environments (Higgins et al., n.d., 12). All these have positively influenced educational practices.
However, this has also had a negative influence on academic performance. Since technological devices are very prevalent in schools, there is a cognitive cost connected to it and that is the exhibition of distractive behaviors by students that negatively impact the academic process. These distractive technology-based behaviors can be broadly categorized as a search for content, communication, and entertainment (Kay et al., 2017, p.975). In essence, technology influences the level of provision of education which is in line with the 21st-century education of improvement of instructions, personalization of learning, offering flexible and adaptive educational environments, as well as engaging and empowering learners to navigate their own education confidently and successfully.
The negative influence that technology has had on education is the inability of students to concentrate in class as many are commonly attributed to communication or entertainment practices. One major factor is the prevalence of social media amongst young Canadians in school, emailing, and sending of instant text messages during class time. Some students surf the internet while in class for personal reasons, therefore losing focus on what is being taught (Kay et al., 2017, p.976). Others use their technology devices to entertain themselves during class and they include playing games and watching videos that are not related to what they are being taught.
Further, technology has had a major influence on education in terms of the content that is in the curriculum. Since there is no explicit legislation in Canada that relates to assessment and licensing of digitally available information on the internet, this has brought more questions in the effectiveness and quality of educational resources that are used for instructions and normal use in Canadian educational practices. Some teachers have continually used inappropriately vetted material for instructions due to this lack of explicit direction (Howell & O’donnell, 2017, p.4) “…teachers may continue to use material that has not been appropriately vetted for use…” (Howell & O’donnell, 2017, p.7). The quality of Canadian educational practices in some schools has been direly influenced since teachers lack the time and expertise to determine and authenticate the information they use for instructions or that is used by the students.
Various schools and students can now engage in interactive sessions, challenges, and contests using technologically integrated platforms which enable students and educators in different schools to connect with each other. Technology has become a tool upon which vulnerable students are bullied and harassed. Social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and other prevalent social platforms amongst Canadian students have become environments upon which some students are victimized. The victimized students cannot fully concentrate in classroom environments if they come to school at all (Newman, 2012). As a result, this affects the students’ performance or even the overall performance of the school negatively.
In conclusion, technology has greatly influenced how instructions and content are presented and taught in class. Technology has influenced the learning materials and how they are used to present them in class. This has transformed education practices in Canada as some institutions have incorporated the student-oriented and hybrid online causes therefore globalizing education. Some learners in Canada are able to study in overseas university while in Canada by using on digital distance learning which employs practices as video-conferencing. It has improved the assessment practices of students as well as addressing the learner’s diversity. Notably, the introduction of the practice of use of technological devices in assessments and exams may have watered down the quality of education in Canada (Howell & O’donnell, 2017, p.9). Nonetheless, it has borne many advantages since it has broadened the knowledge base for scholars.