Although some educators may argue that traditional methods of teaching will always have a place in the classroom setting, there is no denying that technology-based learning has been on the rise in recent years.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the biggest disruptors to traditional classroom learning. Many students and teachers across the globe had to make a switch and use technology in their classrooms to accommodate the constant delivery changes.
So where did students learn how to use this technology in a way that put education at the forefront? The answer is tech-based classes.
Even before the pandemic, however, it wasn’t uncommon to see classrooms equipped with built-in computers, SMART Boards, interactive online content and assignments that required some form of virtual media production.
According to a 2019 report done by People for Education titled Connecting to success: Technology in Ontario schools, 97 per cent of elementary schools and 100 per cent of secondary schools report at least some teachers use technology to communicate with students.
Technology-based learning encapsulates a large spectrum of different classes and programs that range from rudimentary high school introductions to university-level Master’s courses.
Some examples of tech-based learning classes include communications technology, computer programming, architectural technology, and even artificial intelligence studies.
While technology-based learning can become more advanced post-secondary, the foundation on which those skills are built typically starts in high school with an understanding of how technology can be used to convey information.
Michael Denino is a technological education teacher at Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Newmarket, Ont. His previous education was in graphic design and video as well as having work experience in freelancing his graphic design for consultant jobs.
He says the main goal of his classes is to get his students to achieve things that they “maybe didn’t think they could do before.”
“With communications technology, we do a lot of work with video, graphic design, photography, and those are things that a lot of young people have access to through social media,” Denino says. “Having them re-frame that kind of work and those kinds of projects in a more professional, more industry-based lens.”
It’s become part of Denino’s purpose as well, not just a goal of the class.
“My personal goal is to get students to kind of learn the skills related to these different industries so that they know that there are different pathways available to them other than just straight academics like learning math and science and rather applying those things different industry based skills,” he says.
Technology is a constantly evolving topic that varies from development to development. It is inherently important that students are educated on how to use technology appropriately and effectively.
Denino is aware of how technology can evolve and makes sure that his course is able to do the same. One of the major benefits of tech-based learning is how it can adapt to new industry practices seamlessly.
According to Denino professions like graphic design look at different kinds of trends that are happening and how the design world is changing. “… in terms of the content and the curriculum itself, the way it’s written, it’s relatively broad. It gives us a lot of flexibility to keep up to date with things that are changing.”
From a high school level, it’s clear to see how important technology-based learning can be in teaching students both practically and theoretically. How about once they graduate?
Stephen Forbes is a professor and program coordinator for the Computer Programming and Computer Programming and Analysis diplomas at Durham College. His job as a professor involves helping students learn how to code as well as fostering discussion and collaboration.
Forbes says a big point in the favour of technology-based learning is that it teaches a systematic way of looking at problems that go far beyond tech classes.
It is what’s known as a systems development life cycle.
“It’s a meticulous way of trying to understand a problem and then looking at the different options we have to solve that problem, and then trying to choose the best direction to go,” Forbes said. “When I was in school and I was taking classes in that realm I realized wow, this way of looking at things, this systematic approach to building new things can also be applied to anything else I wanna do.”
Technology-based learning has had a substantial impact on the education system over the years, and as the learning space evolves it will continue to play a role in the way students learn across the globe.
According to the World Economic Forum in 2022, the educational technology market is projected to expand to $342 billion by 2025.
Forbes hopes that tech-based courses continue to provide useful tools for students to enter the workforce as more creative and well-rounded people.
“There are so many different jobs in it. You don’t have to be a coder, you don’t have to be a database person,” Forbes says. “There are all kinds of places along the chain of command and the chain of development that people can find themselves something that fits with who they are.”