Digitalization touches all spheres of human activities, and education is no exception. However, it is still unclear whether the implementation of technologies harms academic practices or not. Undoubtedly, digitalization leads to changes in methods of education, the necessity to requalify teachers and install specialized equipment. Still, there is no common opinion on whether the learning process would become more efficient and whether the social problems would become exacerbated or, on the contrary, reduced.
Before moving to the essence of the research paper, I would like to introduce some statistics on the application of digital technologies in education. The research conducted by Duffin (2020) reveals that 81 percent of students benefited from the opportunity to use digital technologies during the classes. Another interesting fact is that almost one-half of the respondents took at least one online course during 2018. These findings imply that the digitalization of education is becoming an important trend. However, there are unsolved questions, dilemmas, and concerns on whether or not this trend should be developed in the future.
The previously described problem of implementation of technologies in education is multifaceted and could be considered from various points of view. This way, the chosen five aspects that influence the issue of the application of technologies in education are teachers and standards, high-stakes assessments, technology, public policy, and diversity and inclusion.
These aspects could be observed from two contradictory perspectives. The first one is expressed by the refusal of educators to include digital technologies in the teaching process. On the contrary, the second approach emphasizes the necessity for a more active integration of IT developments in learning practices.
Talking about teachers and standards, it should be noted that digitalization would harm the traditional practice of tuition that had proved its effectiveness over centuries and the necessity to conduct numerous changes in the equipment and teaching methods. At the same time, the current generation of students used to use technologies in their daily lives, so they would be placed in a comfortable environment. Besides, educators could provide their classmen with more profound and multidimensional knowledge, which would make them better trained.
The application of technologies in high-stakes assessments means the need to install more electronic devices, specialized software, and the unawareness of an instructor or an examinee of how to use either of them could be a severe problem. However, according to Kahneman (2011), the digitalization of the high-stakes assessments process enables universities to select more promising students, and this, in turn, would increase the overall reputation of any educational center. Besides, digitalization allows creating electronic portfolios accessible to any educational institution that requires it.
Digitalization opponents see the threat in the frequent usage of smartphones and computers instead of books for learning purposes. Apart from this, children could become victims of commercial advertisements for specific brands. This means that digitalization could help create a monopolist on IT companies’ market, which is not beneficial for less influential players. Nevertheless, the current generation of students could not imagine their lives without the Internet and computers. Education should follow the trends towards digitalization and adjust to the habits of modern students.
The government plays an essential role in education by establishing laws that educators have to follow. Marathe (2018) calls digitalization a game-changer in education that leads to the need to reallocate the budget so that schools and universities could afford e-learning and digital technologies. From one point of view, digitalization requires extra spending on the educational system of a state. From another point of view, higher education institutions can finance themselves without the government’s help.
Technologies make it possible to educate children with physical and mental disabilities better. Besides, online learning, which would be impossible without the digitalization of educational processes, allows students from underdeveloped and developing countries to get a degree from the best universities in the world while staying at home. Nevertheless, modern technologies and virtual learning practices do not reduce the gap in the quality of education of children of different races and income levels.
In my opinion, traditional educational practices should be gradually substituted with new ones that include the application of new technologies. At the same time, it does not signify that educators should expunge using classical educational methods: offline seminars, written exams, interviews with experts, real experiments in a field, or laboratory. I suppose that should be created such a system of education that would reflect the strongest points of both approaches. I also believe that the government should be engaged more actively in the digitalization of education. It could financially support educational centers that try to implement some new techniques in daily practices.
The potential critics of the proposed solution could admit that it is immensely hard to combine both approaches because they are mutually exclusive. However, online and offline, digital and traditional educational practices are mutually supportive. For example, students could attend lectures online, and the next day comes to offline classes. During these classes, they could conduct experiments in a virtual environment and then describe their experience and findings in an essay using paper and pen. The mark for this work could be kept in the online storage, and examiners at high-stakes assessments could easily access all the grades and achievements of an examinee. This example illustrates how to connect digital and traditional education.
Also, the opponents of the suggested idea could argue against the active involvement of the government in the digitalization of education. The basis for such a decision could be that it is up to professors, instructors, and teachers to decide how to construct classes. This way, public policies should not influence the vision of educators and oblige them to follow certain obligations. The counter-argument towards criticism is that the government would not obligatorily impose any decision on teachers. Instead, it would support attempts to implement new technologies and thus create motivation for further modernization.
To conclude, a traditional educational practice should be combined with a digital one. New technologies give specific opportunities that classical methods do not. At the same time, the old system contains efficient practices that could not be illuminated under any circumstances. For instance, communication with other people is an essential part of our lives. The traditional academic practices are grounded on the interaction between instructors and students and this feature of education does not lose its importance even in the epoch of digitalization. Digitalization would also make education in the sphere of IT and exact sciences more appealing than one in the sphere of humanities.
Conti, D., Di Nuovo, S., Buono, S., & Di Nuovo, A. (2017). Robots in education and care of children with developmental disabilities: a study on acceptance by experienced and future professionals. International journal of social robotics, 9(1), 51-62.
Duffin, E. (2020). E-learning and digital education – Statistics & Facts. Statista.
Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. Macmillian.
Marathe, S. (2018). Digitalization in education sector. International journal of trend in scientific research and development, 4(101), 51-56.
Wutz, I. (2018). The transformative power of digitalization in schools: Where to draw the line? Web.