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Education is a complex subject which appears to elude definition. With the passage of time it has gathered new dimensions and stirred the human mind in unpredictable ways. Education is a continuous process and it aims at total development of the individual.
“Learning is not a single activity; it includes at least three different stages: accretion, restructuring, and tuning”
That is the, progress from the unsure and anxious state of the learner to the serene and experienced skill of the expert. It is not enough to understand and learn a subject. When a subject has been learned, it should be used. It should be practiced. It should be tuned until it is used effortlessly. An old proverb says, “I heard it and I forgot it, I saw it and I remembered it, I did it and I learned it.” Learning is therefore more effective when it occurs in an interactive setting that is mostly promoted through the use of educational technology.
Now a day’s one can not live without technology. There is hardly an area of our life which is free from its presence whether it is health or education, industry or transport, communication or entertainment, fashion or domestic comforts technology is there all around us to serve us in every possible manner.
TAL is an abbreviation of Technology Aided Learning and is one of the most commonly used acronyms within education. TAL has been increasingly used to describe the use of technology for learning purposes. The need for technology in the classroom is rapidly increasing with the changing times. What one must remember is that TAL is used to assist the user in learning or understanding a particular subject or thought in different or with interesting presentation. The key word here is Assist which means that it is not alone in this aim and that there are other methods involved too. In other words it is a small part of a much larger picture. It is relatively a new learning technique and is used for individual learning, in schools and in workplaces no matter what age groups the learner might belong to. TAL can be equally beneficial for people with disabilities. It will give them the opportunity to work side by side with peers. Technology today is flexible enough to stretch and meet their special requirements. It will help them self-advocate
In workplace environment it helps everyone by keeping a breast with latest techniques and solving day to day problems. Technology today provides virtual environments in which to check the viability of projects in real life situations.
According to the British Journal of Educational Technology published by the National centre for Educational Technology, U.K. – No. 2, Vol. 2, May 1971.
“Educational technology basically means all the intellectual and operational efforts made during recent years to regroup, arrange and systematize the application of scientific methods to the organization of new sets of equipment and material so as to optimize learning process”.
Majority of the people prefer TAL over traditional methods. TAL can cater a large number of people at the same time whereas traditional teacher centered methods can accommodate a certain number only. Technological learning commonly known as ‘E-learning’ is defined as
“the use of new multimedia technologies and the Internet to improve the quality of learning by facilitating access to resources and services, as well as remote exchange and collaboration”
An integral part of the e-learning is video-conferencing technology, which allows students to talk to experts and other schools and students around the world in real time via a video link-up. Virtual schools are a relatively new phenomenon that is gripping the nation which makes it possible for everyone to learn at the same time even if they are at different ends of the globe. In this way a lot of time is saved from repeating or preparing the same lecture for separate classes. It is also benefactor for all those who due to one reason or another cannot go to educational institutions by having online lectures in their homes. If such virtual schools can be developed it might prove to be a sigh of relief for all those countries who import oil and other fuels as less to and from movement from educational institutions will bring a decrease in demand for fuel import thus giving a much required relief to their withering economy and might even boost it. Such a strategy can be particularly useful in rural areas where online learning can help teachers and students in remote areas overcome distance. So in this way it can lend a helping hand in solving the current staff to student ratio crisis. Technology is the potential savior of the education system, because it can be used to personalize learning. The learner can learn at the pace he is most comfortable with and can design his learning according to his knowledge and needs, record the progress he makes.
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While some of the people want technology to replace traditional learning altogether others might disagree. A more moderate approach to the issue in question would be that both techniques should be employed in balance because some students from backward areas do not have the pace and are not at all comfortable with technology and also because it decreases student to student and student to teacher communication up to some extent. This strategy of blending online learning with school-based instruction is often utilized to accommodate students’ diverse learning styles and to enable them to work before or after school in ways that are not possible with conventional classroom instructions. Learners respond to information differently. As a result, it is often to the teacher’s advantage to use many different formats and modes to teach the lesson.
Factors which influence the use of TAL include availability of resources and time and also on the difficulty of the topic and the strength and level of the class being taught. Use of TAL also broadens the mindset by giving every kind of information in one place. Most of the instructors just teach whatever is in the book and do not go outside its scope. Some do not employ TAL techniques due to power fluctuations and also non credibility of information up to some extent.
The kind of technologies employed include internet, video conferences, audio and video cassettes regarding book content, online tests, online reference books, articles/journals and a wide range of gadgets including Projector, Camera, Electronic Board, Computer and different multimedia aids. While open educational resources are freely available over the net to every student without any discrimination, effort should be made that they meet standards of quality, accuracy and credibility as with any other educational resource.
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TAL is an effective learning technique.TAL provides an active learning atmosphere because different audio and visual materials appeal to the senses and completely grabs their attention. The listener of today does not want a dull lecture he prefers education through entertainment. Because of its comfortableness sometimes listener feels at ease and then might miss out a few things but TAL has the ability to reignite listener’s interest. Because of the healthy interaction between technology and students interest in even dull topics can be developed. Audience motivation increases due to the use of TAL because everyday there’s something new. Hence, if proper motivation and learning environment is provided TAL can surely enhance learning capabilities.
Outside school, students constantly interact with technologies such as iPods, mobile phones, the internet and social networking sites, so it is little wonder there’s an expectation that these technologies will also support their learning in the classroom. In recent world a program has been trialled that allowed students and teachers to download free information and resources through iTunes U – an area of the iTunes store offering free education content from top institutions around the world. The department’s assistant executive director curriculum support says that, by providing online content in alternative formats, the department hopes to make the information more accessible and appealing to people in the education community. This program will also test the practicality of using alternative electronic formats to distribute the department’s information. The iTunes project also means that students can better communicate with their peers and access different perspectives on their subjects by sharing audio files to discuss their school work.
Advantages of TAL in classroom include but are not limited to those mentioned here. The ideal classroom is an interactive, collaborative, and innovative place of discovery; technology is a key piece in achieving that goal. The use of TAL is increasing due to its fast and effective delivery of concepts and convenience.
“One of the advantages of using multimedia is to convey information quickly and effectively to all learners-and keep them interested in learning.”
(Savage and Vogel, 1996).
Each and every one of the student pays 100% attention. TAL increases the interest in learning by creating an environment which is both innovative and creative and engages the student more fully. TAL makes one forget the chalk dust, the textbooks and make them a thing of the past. TAL is bliss for all those who want permanent and up to date knowledge. The use of TAL has introduced the concept of self education. When students find a term they are interested in they would simply research it and discus whatever they have found with their classmates. TAL also has an upper hand due to its diverse material. It sure is a fun way to get your students to review important material. It is certainly an advantage for all those who want to gain extra. It also saves the student and teacher from the hassle of carrying books and notes to and from the classroom. TAL expands whatever the course offers. When the same material is taught for awhile the student and even the teacher himself might find it less than exciting. A quick internet search might help you identify ways to supplement your lessons with interesting new material such as photographs, sound clips, video clips, which can more than bring your lessons to life. Hence the use of technology allows teachers to diversify their lectures, display more information, and enhance learner’s learning. All student related info such as grades, attendance, progress reports etc can be uploaded which will make it possible to access it from any computer and hence make it easier for students and parents to track the student’s progress. Technology helps us in training our students in such a way that they master the 4Cs which are creativity, collaboration, communication and critical-thinking. TAL creates a sense of independent learning and help students in experiencing real life situations in the comfortable surroundings.
“With the aid of technology, many teachers take students beyond traditional classroom limits, creating virtual environments to experiment and explore”
(Hamza and Alhalabi, 1999).
TAL reduces the cost of instructional materials. Technology is infused in almost every aspect of our daily lives so students from institutions which employ TAL techniques frequently have an upper hand than the rest as they are already trained in the much required skills. Students with little or no interest are simply not stimulated unless given technology as the backbone to their learning. Although some technologies sound space-aged and technical, most of the technologies that students are using are the same as those in most homes; the main difference is that, in schools, their educational potential is being explored.
Like everything TAL also has some disadvantages. Let’s imagine a situation where a teacher is having trouble with technological devices and it might sometimes be embarrassing when a student tells him or her how to troubleshoot the problem in question. However, that doesn’t mean a teacher can turn away from using technology altogether. Instead, workshops should be arranged to bring such teachers into this new era of education by giving them the choice of what technology to use with their students. Given budget restraints, one hears more arguments in favor of traditional learning rather than use of technology in classrooms. The best solution to the financial problem is to allow students to bring in their own devices which mean that some students will have i-pads, pods, phones and laptops while others will have nothing. Technology, in this case, will likely serve to increase the gap between the rich and the poor and create a sense of deprivation. Sometimes students take it easy and become passive in the classroom or even don’t come in the class because they know that whatever will be taught will be uploaded and they can find the same or better resources then that shown in the class. In this way they stop learning content and go to learn technology instead. Technology loses its novelty over time as its extensive use might make the lecture dull for then it will become a routine. Extra efficient people can surely find something more to do but in this way a little less motivated students will be left far behind and thus a gap will be created. TAL can be of major disadvantage for backward area people in terms of communication gap. The extensive use of technology may cause to lose activeness and brain storming etc. Some were of the view that they even serve as distraction. Some teachers might rely on technology exclusively to make their job quicker and easier, but what one must remember is that a teacher’s job is never easy. As far as technology is concerned there is a very faint line between education and environment.
Teachers should be properly trained to emphasize knowledge and skills related to instructional technology use. Educational institutions in the country should be provided with modern instructional resources to facilitate teaching.
The future of TAL in terms of teaching/learning and transfer of information to any individual all of them saw a bright future some even went so far as to suggest that TAL might completely replace the traditional techniques. A revolution might be coming ahead which aims to prepare students for further education and training, jobs of the future and to live and work in a digital world. Some school students ages 9-12 are even now being switched on to some of the most up-to-date technology available, from laptop computers to interactive whiteboards, video-conferencing equipment and even virtual classrooms. TAL should be employed side by side with traditional techniques rather then relying alone on technology. TAL should be employed on a larger scale and everything should be done for its promotion throughout the country. A clear cut line should be introduced so that these technologies and resources are not misused. The daily interaction with technology will help in producing students or learners being leaders of 21st century.
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