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8 Ways Technology Improves Education

8 Ways Technology Improves Education

Not Just A Cool New Thing: How Technology Improves Education

Apart from the argument that technology has negatively affected students’ learning schedules, edTech has been proved to be a helpful tool. Nowadays, the time that students invest in learning can be utilized in the best way possible since their growth is under their control thoroughly: either they can make efforts to stand out or let the opportunities go vain. Here are some ways in which technology has made the academic industry better.

1. Digital Simulations And Models

In traditional learning it is sometimes difficult for students to get a concept. Digital simulations and models can help students not only better understand various disciplines, but also get acquainted with the wonders of the modern world.

Plus, technology has also proved to be a helping hand for teachers who sometimes find it hard to explain certain things within the boundaries of a physical classroom. Tech-savvy teachers are able to prepare their lessons in a more strategical manner by including different types of text, activity models, and interactive controls for students.

2. Improved Communication

Communication is an essential part of any activity. And when it comes to education, ineffective communication is just not acceptable. Since technology has emerged, communication gaps have been bridged up and the flow of knowledge has been smoothened. Whether in a traditional or a virtual classroom, with online collaboration tools everyone can just form a community where teachers assign projects to their students in real-time and students may ask for clarifications, if any.

As a bonus, peers may easily interact with each other for their subject-relevant concerns too.

3. Advanced Research

Cloud storage has made research a lot easier for the students these days. Gone are the days when they had to go through piles of books to find a specific reference to improve their assignments and projects. With technology, research has been quite an effective tool.

Since a lot of time is saved during research, students are able to incorporate a lot of information and knowledge in their projects. Also, the acquisition of different solutions and results all over the world is now possible, which is likely the most obvious benefit a student gets in his life. All thanks to the giant search engine Google.

4. Effective Assessments

With the help of digital simulations and models, teachers are not only able to prepare lessons in an efficient manner, but also know the progress of their students.

There is software available with which teachers can give or receive assessments of their students in real-time. Such software is made to help teachers stay updated with all records, for instance, the number of learning assignments given, how much time students need to solve a problem, etc. It is a way of helping teachers know how much time a particular question requires from some students, and if they’re getting better; if not, what further efforts should be made for their improvement.

5. Learning At One’s Own Pace

Needless to say, self-paced learning is another big advantage that students enjoy with the emergence of technology in the education industry. When they opt to learn a specific concept and confronting any difficulty, there is no need to just skip it off. Although there are some quick learners who are capable of adapting quickly, there are some others who take considerable time to absorb an idea. Such students are blessed with the idea of technology being part of their learning; now they can easily pace up with their peers with the complete understanding of developed lessons and online curriculum that is exclusively designed for them.

6. Fun Learning

It is a fact that a student learns more when he practices. The use of technology has made things a lot more fun than ever. Students are getting engaged in so many learning tasks that improve their retention of new concepts.

Since the introduction of computers, tablets, and mobile phones, there has been a great scope of education applications that allow learners to learn various concepts in a playful manner. Moreover, they can access to live streaming videos online to better understand an idea, subject, or concept.

7. Online Groups Collaboration

The idea of group study has been improvised in the cyber world. Now, the students don’t need to get together physically; online collaboration platforms make things done. There, not only students can discuss and chat, but also share documents and notes. This practice turns out to be a great option if you are assigned a group project.

8. Open Education

In this technologically revolutionized world, there are numerous free options available from different prestigious universities. No matter where you are, you can simply access the internet through your device and look for your options. Since the world of internet is bound to provide you with the best of your search results and help your education needs, your grades don’t need to suffer anymore.

Last Words

As far as we know, technology is here to stay and develop. There are more revolutions that are expected in the industry, so you need to be ready for every new update. The idea that “Education is for everyone” seems to be verified with technology’s involvement.

Advantages and disadvantages of technology in education

Although the education system has always been strongly influenced by innovations, the explosion of new technologies caused tectonic shifts in the way the teaching process is carried out in school.

Advantages and disadvantages of technology in education

Many technology enthusiasts believe that changes in the education system can only go forward due to an incredible growth in the number of inventions that are continuously changing the description of existing professions. In this regard, many believe that abandoning traditional classroom education altogether is almost certain in the near future, noting that traditional education will not be able to adequately prepare students for the new challenges and demands of the real world.

However, sceptics often argue that we should be careful with the immediate implementation of modern technologies in the classroom, primarily because of the potential consequences, such as widening of an existing social gap, an increased number of individuals who suffer from mental illness, and the regression of children’s cognitive and academic development that may prove irreversible.

Taking into account the arguments of both sides, we will present a list of advantages and disadvantages of technology in education below, and explain how it impacts today’s students.

Advantages of technology in education

Looking back over the last hundred years, introducing technology into the classroom has been a blessing only for younger students and teachers. In other words, with a sudden introduction of a wide range of devices and the Internet, students got the opportunity to make the learning process much easier and more interesting. Key benefits of technology in education include:

Provides a better interactive experience during the learning and teaching process

With the introduction of mobile phones, tablets and computers, students are now able to do something they should have been able to do long ago – to learn actively and productively. For the first time, students can access a subject/teaching unit with enthusiasm thanks to applications, videos, simulations and digital books that make the learning process much more engaging. Moreover, having the opportunity to dig deeper into an area that interests them allows them to potentially recognize their interests and talents, and maybe even their future profession.

Provides access to an unlimited amount of current information and data from a variety of sources

In addition to the fact that students approach learning with more enthusiasm and productivity, they also have the opportunity to access the most current topics and research, which is something their ancestors could only dream about. Instead of going from library to library, dragging a pile of books with them, they are just a few clicks and well-defined queries away from accessing information that can give them additional insight into the topics they are covering at school. So, this practice not only enables students to have a modern education, but it also teaches them how to approach the search for information and read complex professional literature.

Teaches them digital literacy

We all know that young people cannot acquire the level of skill demanded by today’s corporate world in computer science classes. By implementing technology as an integral part of education, students are given the opportunity to keep up with learning trends and acquire technological/digital skills that are highly sought after in the 21st century. This form of learning is most helpful for students who don’t have access to modern technology at home, which could also potentially reduce the social gap between digitally literate and illiterate people.

Reduces educational costs

With the introduction of technology in education, resources have become more accessible, which resulted in declining tuition fees, the need for books and their price, as well as the reduced need for school supplies. The introduction of e-books has made things easier for low-income families, and helped students to approach learning on equal terms with their peers, without parental pressure for high performance arising from large investments into their child’s education.

In addition, another positive side-effect of using e-books in education is the fact that they indirectly contribute to the reduction of deforestation, which is one of the major environmental problems.

Provides better insight into student performance thanks to metrics

In the past, teachers had to spend considerable time evaluating the overall academic performance of each student, which proved to be very impractical, especially in large classes with over 20 students. Unfortunately, many students never succeed in correcting the wrong steps in learning that can help them improve their performance, and potentially discover their talents of affinities.

However, with the introduction of digital technologies and the Internet in the classrooms, a teachers’ job of analyzing student performance and providing guidelines and advice has become much easier, which is a win-win situation both for teachers and students. Specifically, thanks to platforms that collect data on student performance in class, tests, and assignments, teachers have clear insight into the areas students struggle with, or excel at. Moreover, teachers are now able to modify lessons based on insights into the performance of individual students, or class as a whole.

They can choose between real-time learning or learning at their own pace

Technology in education has allowed students to gain control over their learning, but it also provided flexibility to teachers in transferring knowledge to students. Namely, this practice is only possible in schools that support hybrid (blended) learning, i.e. a combination of synchronous real-time learning, and asynchronous learning where students can listen to a lecture when they choose.

Listening to a teacher giving a lesson in real time provides students with a stronger sense of belonging, and allows them to socialize with their peers, same as face-to-face interaction with the teacher. On the other hand, more independent students who are confident in their own time management and commitment management skills can learn whenever they feel like it.

Disadvantages of technology in education

It is great to be optimistic and believe in the continuous advancement of technology, however, it is equally important to not lose sight of the negative sides of technology in education, and how it can cause long-term problems for young people. Namely, many sceptics from the domain of social sciences and humanities often point out several potential disadvantages of technology in education, and how it can negatively affect certain aspects, and the quality of children’s life and development:

It is distracting both in the classroom and outside of it

Proponents of technology in education often forget that students continue to use their mobile phones and tablets throughout the day, long after they’ve completed their school activities. Namely, with the daily dosage of social media and video games, children’s brains are accustomed to entertaining, intensive, and short-term content that can quickly stimulate their dopamine system.

The biggest problem here is the fact that daily interaction with technological devices reduces attention span, and research shows that the attention span of children from Generation Z is about 8 seconds.  Although teachers may have good intentions, the use of applications that have nothing to do with the teaching process itself should be restricted, and technology should be used in class only when absolutely necessary.

Potentially diminishes cognitive development and reduces problem-solving skills

Technology always has a good intention, to reduce the time and make it easier to perform certain mechanical activities. However, technology has automated almost all school activities. Why would a child need to learn the basics of math, when they can use a calculator on their phone, or why would they need to learn spelling, when they have autocorrect software?

So, what was originally a positive intention has led to the situation that new generations will be unable to perform everyday cognitive activities without technology. In addition, it should be noted that when children use technology to solve every problems at school, they gradually lose their problem-solving abilities, which is a highly sought-after set of skills. The only solution to this problem is to have teachers and educational institutions as a whole impose restrictions on the use of technology in education.

Reduces direct peer interaction

Although digital technologies have been shown to improve student advancement, and project collaboration, they, however, disregard our biological need for interaction in real time. Namely, we have lived as social beings for over tens of thousands of years, and we now think that we can trick our genetic predisposition so easily.

Although young people interact with their parents, teachers and peers, the percentage of adolescents with a diagnosis of some form of depression has been growing, and has now reached a staggering 20%. The only solution that teachers and educational institutions can offer is to encourage young people to engage in face-to-face interaction with others.

Maintaining modern technology is very expensive

The cost of upgrading or maintaining technology is often overlooked. In a world where new innovations in the field of digital technologies appear almost every month, and where upgrading software and applications continuously requires more powerful devices, relying on the belief that technology in education is the only solution sounds overly confident.

Namely, teaching and learning can be done without technology, but the question is – how useful the acquired specific skills will be after a few generations of technological backwardness. So, in order to not regret the purchase of new technology, educational institutions are obligated to estimate the actual long-term costs of that investment, and how it will reflect on tuition fees that students and their parents need to pay.

It is easier to cheat in exams

A huge problem that teachers face is cheating on exams, and not having an insight into student knowledge of a lesson. This is also the biggest problem with online tests, because teachers often don’t know if students have access to another device while taking the test. This problem could have long-term consequences, primarily due to the inability of educational institutions to guarantee that the student actually possesses the knowledge needed for higher levels of education, or to do their job.

Reduced number of teachers due to automation and reduced salaries

With the introduction of technology in the curriculum, the role of the teacher as an authority figure and mediator is slowly fading. It should be noted that automation in education and the introduction of certain applications has led to a decrease in the number of teachers in modern schools. However, the remaining teachers have even more responsibilities than before, and their income is not increasing in proportion with their responsibilities, so many have had to give up their job.

As we said earlier, describing the advantages of technology in education, children have the opportunity to access a wide spectrum of information that makes lessons more engaging, but the question is, how long does it take to prepare and integrate that content into a meaningful whole? So, increased responsibilities mostly refer to the preparations for class, the importance and complexity of which are underestimated by many, primarily because it is not visible to parents.

The problem that needs to be addressed is that educational institutions should stop approaching teachers as manual laborers, and the first step toward that goal is increasing their salary and treating them with the respect they deserve, otherwise, we will have unmotivated teachers who don’t care about transferring knowledge to their students, and the consequence is a generation of individuals incapable of becoming useful members of society.

Final thoughts on the pros and cons of technology in education

Different people have different opinions on the introduction of these changes in the education system, especially if it’s done so suddenly and in such a short time. However, one should be realistic, because the advantages still far outweigh the disadvantages.

So, a continuous insistence on disadvantages should not be seen as a desire to return to traditional education, but as a reason for caution and the possibility to better see the holes in the technologies and methods used in education. It is up to educational institutions and teachers to analyze the disadvantages in the next revision, and improve the quality of teaching both in their digital and physical classrooms.

How Important Is Technology in Education? Benefits, Challenges, and Impact on Students

A group of students use their electronics while sitting at their desks.

Many of today’s high-demand jobs were created in the last decade, according to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). As advances in technology drive globalization and digital transformation, teachers can help students acquire the necessary skills to succeed in the careers of the future.

How important is technology in education? The COVID-19 pandemic is quickly demonstrating why online education should be a vital part of teaching and learning. By integrating technology into existing curricula, as opposed to using it solely as a crisis-management tool, teachers can harness online learning as a powerful educational tool.

The effective use of digital learning tools in classrooms can increase student engagement, help teachers improve their lesson plans, and facilitate personalized learning. It also helps students build essential 21st-century skills.

Virtual classrooms, video, augmented reality (AR), robots, and other technology tools can not only make class more lively, they can also create more inclusive learning environments that foster collaboration and inquisitiveness and enable teachers to collect data on student performance.

Still, it’s important to note that technology is a tool used in education and not an end in itself. The promise of educational technology lies in what educators do with it and how it is used to best support their students’ needs.

Educational Technology Challenges

BuiltIn reports that 92 percent of teachers understand the impact of technology in education. According to Project Tomorrow, 59 percent of middle school students say digital educational tools have helped them with their grades and test scores. These tools have become so popular that the educational technology market is projected to expand to $342 billion by 2025, according to the World Economic Forum.

However, educational technology has its challenges, particularly when it comes to implementation and use. For example, despite growing interest in the use of AR, artificial intelligence, and other emerging technology, less than 10 percent of schools report having these tools in their classrooms, according to Project Tomorrow. Additional concerns include excessive screen time, the effectiveness of teachers using the technology, and worries about technology equity.

Prominently rising from the COVID-19 crisis is the issue of content. Educators need to be able to develop and weigh in on online educational content, especially to encourage students to consider a topic from different perspectives. The urgent actions taken during this crisis did not provide sufficient time for this. Access is an added concern — for example, not every school district has resources to provide students with a laptop, and internet connectivity can be unreliable in homes.

Additionally, while some students thrive in online education settings, others lag for various factors, including support resources. For example, a student who already struggled in face-to-face environments may struggle even more in the current situation. These students may have relied on resources that they no longer have in their homes.

Still, most students typically demonstrate confidence in using online education when they have the resources, as studies have suggested. However, online education may pose challenges for teachers, especially in places where it has not been the norm.

Despite the challenges and concerns, it’s important to note the benefits of technology in education, including increased collaboration and communication, improved quality of education, and engaging lessons that help spark imagination and a search for knowledge in students.

The Benefits of Technology in Education

Teachers want to improve student performance, and technology can help them accomplish this aim. To mitigate the challenges, administrators should help teachers gain the competencies needed to enhance learning for students through technology. Additionally, technology in the classroom should make teachers’ jobs easier without adding extra time to their day.

Technology provides students with easy-to-access information, accelerated learning, and fun opportunities to practice what they learn. It enables students to explore new subjects and deepen their understanding of difficult concepts, particularly in STEM. Through the use of technology inside and outside the classroom, students can gain 21st-century technical skills necessary for future occupations.

Still, children learn more effectively with direction. The World Economic Forum reports that while technology can help young students learn and acquire knowledge through play, for example, evidence suggests that learning is more effective through guidance from an adult, such as a teacher.

Leaders and administrators should take stock of where their faculty are in terms of their understanding of online spaces. From lessons learned during this disruptive time, they can implement solutions now for the future. For example, administrators could give teachers a week or two to think carefully about how to teach courses not previously online. In addition to an exploration of solutions, flexibility during these trying times is of paramount importance.

Below are examples of how important technology is in education and the benefits it offers to students and teachers.

Increased Collaboration and Communication

Educational technology can foster collaboration. Not only can teachers engage with students during lessons, but students can also communicate with each other. Through online lessons and learning games, students get to work together to solve problems. In collaborative activities, students can share their thoughts and ideas and support each other. At the same time, technology enables one-on-one interaction with teachers. Students can ask classroom-related questions and seek additional help on difficult-to-understand subject matter. At home, students can upload their homework, and teachers can access and view completed assignments using their laptops.

Personalized Learning Opportunities

Technology allows 24/7 access to educational resources. Classes can take place entirely online via the use of a laptop or mobile device. Hybrid versions of learning combine the use of technology from anywhere with regular in-person classroom sessions. In both scenarios, the use of technology to tailor learning plans for each student is possible. Teachers can create lessons based on student interests and strengths. An added benefit is that students can learn at their own pace. When they need to review class material to get a better understanding of essential concepts, students can review videos in the lesson plan. The data generated through these online activities enable teachers to see which students struggled with certain subjects and offer additional assistance and support.

Curiosity Driven by Engaging Content

Through engaging and educational content, teachers can spark inquisitiveness in children and boost their curiosity, which research says has ties to academic success. Curiosity helps students get a better understanding of math and reading concepts. Creating engaging content can involve the use of AR, videos, or podcasts. For example, when submitting assignments, students can include videos or interact with students from across the globe.

Improved Teacher Productivity and Efficiency

Teachers can leverage technology to achieve new levels of productivity, implement useful digital tools to expand learning opportunities for students, and increase student support and engagement. It also enables teachers to improve their instruction methods and personalize learning. Schools can benefit from technology by reducing the costs of physical instructional materials, enhancing educational program efficiency, and making the best use of teacher time.

Become a Leader in Enriching Classrooms through Technology

Educators unfamiliar with some of the technology used in education may not have been exposed to the tools as they prepared for their careers or as part of their professional development. Teachers looking to make the transition and acquire the skills to incorporate technology in education can take advantage of learning opportunities to advance their competencies. For individuals looking to help transform the education system through technology, American University’s School of Education Online offers a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Master of Arts in Education Policy and Leadership to prepare educators with essential tools to become leaders. Courses such as Education Program and Policy Implementation and Teaching Science in Elementary School equip graduate students with critical competencies to incorporate technology into educational settings effectively.

Importance of Technology in Education

Technology has introduced revolutionary changes in all areas of life, from interpersonal communication, economy, entertainment industry, even education. It seems that today, more than ever, students are faced with changes that not only fundamentally alter the way they learn, but their everyday life as well. It is simply impossible to ignore the tremendous impact that modern technologies have on new generations of students.

Importance of Technology in Education

Children grow up with laptops, tablets, various gadgets and modern digital systems, so they have long been ready for the modernization of education. With that in mind, the importance of technology in education only becomes more obvious. Learning styles have changed over the years, gradually introducing new technologies with a potential to improve teaching.

Students’ readiness for technology in the classroom is excellent news, because the digital age brings new challenges, not only in education, but in all other areas of life as well. Therefore, it is important that students learn to harness all the potential of modern society while still at school.

Technology as a bridge connecting students and school

Educational technology refers to the implementation of advanced technologies, i.e. software and hardware that enable modern teaching methods. This way, students and educators have access to numerous digital and educational resources that facilitate mutual cooperation and make it easier for students to master the teaching material. This modern approach has brought changes at all levels of education, from elementary school to college.

Improving the learning experience is directly related to student needs and life habits. Given that they use social media and the Internet and play video games on a daily basis, children expect information to be presented in a similar way at school. Lesson content should be pictorial and entertaining, it should captivate their attention and contain as little redundant information as possible, which is one of the major shortcomings of the traditional approach to education. Of course, school responsibilities are not the same as playing video games, but it is useful to know what things can draw and hold students’ attention and help them master the teaching material.

It is clear that teachers need to understand the needs of their students, how they communicate with each other, and things that can be used to draw their attention and make them interested in the teaching material. This way, children will want to apply their knowledge for educational purposes, instead of entering intergenerational conflict. Interestingly enough, teachers also benefit from the new technologies and teaching methods, because many segments of their job have been simplified.

Easier teacher-student communication and cooperation

It has been long believed that the most efficient teaching method is traditional lecturing, where students passively follow the teacher’s lecture. A lot has changed in the last couple of years, and teachers were given the opportunity to make use of the advantages of modern resources. Therefore, as far as teachers are concerned, the importance of technology in education is obvious:

  • Easier communication with students
  • Records of students and their progress are digitized
  • Testing can be done using different apps for students
  • Teachers are better informed which positively affects the quality of teaching
  • Possibility of creating engaging, multimedia-assisted lectures
  • More effective, and time-efficient work in the classroom
  • More time and opportunities for professional development

All these things improve teacher-student cooperation and aim to provide students with the best possible education.

Technology has permanently changed our approach to education

The importance of technology in education is visible at each level of education, however, junior grades of elementary school and high school are where modernization is most acutely felt, because in this period, children prepare for important challenges that await them at the next stage of education, which is why it is crucial that they approach learning in the right way. Many things are now easier, which allows children to focus on their personal development.

Information has never been so accessible

In the past, students spent a large part of their time searching for information. Nowadays, the search for information is digitized and practically everything can be found on the Internet. Instead of going to the library, students can find the desired content on Google or any other search engine. This way, the learning environment becomes an online environment that provides information in all possible formats (text, audio, video, photographs, infographics, etc.).

Thus, students get a better understanding of the teaching material that enables better learning in line with the standards of the 21st century skills. This advanced approach is based on tools – fast Internet, stable Wi-Fi and a laptop (tablet or mobile phone) and therefore many schools make great efforts to give each of their students access to a computer.

Online education

Modern communication models have greatly facilitated learning from home, i.e. online learning. This teaching method became extremely important during the 2020 global pandemic when schools were forced to shut down and fully switch to distance learning. Even before that, online courses were very popular, because they provided education to people who wanted professional development, but didn’t have enough time or money to get it. Distance education enables individuals to attend lectures even if the lecturer is on another continent.

Not only does online education enable people to attend schools that may be physically located in another part of the planet, but it also allows them to work and study. Namely, many educational institutions have recognized the role of technology in education and enabled students to attend classes, take tests and work on projects when it suits them. This way, quality education has become available to a larger number of people.

Improved development of student critical thinking

The importance of technology in education is particularly evident when it comes to the development of critical thinking. Different educational approaches allow students to express themselves in original ways, thus arriving at different solutions. In that process, they approach information critically, thinking about each available piece of information to reach the desired result.

The place that used to belong to textbooks and notebooks is now occupied by tablets, videos, animations, Internet, audio recordings, collages, etc. This way, students can communicate in a way that is most familiar and relatable to them, so even shy students or those who struggle with teamwork now have the opportunity to shine and achieve better results.

Modern classroom

Perhaps the most obvious change occurred in the classroom of modern schools. The only ‘gadgets’ that were available in the traditional classroom were the blackboard, chalk and the classroom globe, whereas nowadays, they have access to state-of-the-art technological advances, even artificial intelligence. Thanks to virtual reality, students can visit any part of the planet in geography classes, or watch a 3D movie about the ancient world in history classes.

Education has come a long way from using a projector in class. All the things mentioned above are used in higher education, where bigger university budgets allow a wider and more comprehensive application of the latest technologies for educational and research purposes.

The potential of technology in education

As you can see, the importance of technology in education is tremendous, and its impact is growing. However, it is crucial to implement technology in education in the right way, because many traditional teaching methods should continue to exist. In addition, the computer is not applicable in every situation, nor is learning with it necessarily more efficient. Therefore, it is up to teachers to strike a balance between future-ready education and the good old offline teaching.

Why Technology is Essential to a 21st Century Education?

15 Characteristics of a 21st-Century Teacher | Edutopia

First, it is important to discuss the value 21st-century education technology brings to the classroom environment. There are four major areas:

First: The addition of technology into the classroom can help transform the classroom experience from a classic teacher-centered one into a student-centered experience – with students taking a more active role in their learning. In a student-centered classroom, the teacher becomes more of a guide as the students engage with and tackle the day’s lesson. And there is nothing better than seeing your students fully engaged! It is important to understand that integrating technology into the classroom is by no means a replacement for an effective teacher. To put it simply, the ideal classroom environment would be one that is student-centered and includes a carefully selected blend of instructional technologies with face-to-face communication.

Second: Technology provides teachers and students with access to a variety of educational resources that inspire creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.

  • It promotes inclusion and the development of digital literacy skills.
  • It extends learning beyond the text – and beyond the classroom walls.
  • It ultimately exposes students and teachers to new online global communities. This in turn promotes a global awareness, which is an essential component to a 21st century education.

Third: We all know that there have been, and will continue to be, different levels of students in our classrooms – and with uniquely important learning needs. Through the use of instructional technology, differentiated instruction can be made much easier. It can become more of a reality! With differentiated instruction, students are provided an education that is personalized – and that meets them where they are, developmentally. More students are able to benefit from this type of instruction. The use of technology also provides students access to very rich learning materials outside of the classroom.

Why Learning English Is So Important In The 21st Century

Finally, it is of paramount importance that while in school, students use tools that will best prepare them for their future academic and professional experiences. – This includes a blend of new tech and old tech. Integrating technology into the classroom provides students with a set of skills to navigate through the variety of online tools we have today! It also provides teachers opportunities to educate students on digital citizenship and the new challenges to academic integrity.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But effective integration of technology into the classroom isn’t easy! Successful integration requires time, customization, experimentation, and support. While there are many schools successfully integrating technology into their classrooms, there is an even larger number of schools that are faced with obstacles impeding this process.

Here are a few of the current realities experienced in many K-12 schools in this process.
Schools struggle with finding meaningful, ongoing professional development experiences for their faculty regarding technology integration. Which tools should they learn? Who should go? How long will the skills they learn be relevant?

Current professional development opportunities tend to be highly inefficient when groups of teachers with dissimilar skills and backgrounds are learning new technologies together. Teachers sometimes struggle to see the personal, immediate benefit – and can disengage from the material. Even the most meaningful conferences and workshops don’t provide the managed follow-up to ensure that the newly acquired skills, strategies, and approaches are being developed and shared with the school community. Unfortunately, in many cases, the investments by the school and the teacher are quickly lost. Including technology in the classroom adds an extra layer of complexity to classroom management. Devices can quickly become a major distraction and not a meaningful learning tool.

UDL and 21st Century Learning | Faculty Focus

Lastly, a major obstacle for teachers and students is unreliable technology. Even the best-prepared lesson can collapse when there are technical issues! The typical teacher population in most schools includes novice, intermediate, and advanced technology users. Placement into each category is based on a teacher’s ability to integrate technology into their classroom. But exactly does it mean to “integrate technology”? How far do we need to go?

The following theoretical framework, known as the SAMR Model, explains four different levels associated with instructional technology use. Take a look at this video to learn more.

Effects of science and technology in everyday life

Technology in Everyday life – nailydelgado

In the present global situation, numerous powerful technologies have been developed to assist people in households and offices. Faster communication is made possible through mobile phones and the Internet. New technology impacts our daily lives in every field, from the cars, cell phones, computers and networks and power. In fact, humans have always been greatly affected with the developments in new technology. However, today new information technology is slightly complex with cloud computing, new methods of security and data encryption. It is a prevailing fact that new information technology not only benefits programmers, database managers, hardware engineers and network analysts but it also benefits the common user. New information technology was developed in 1940’s and 1950’s for the better working of military and universities.Buy These Notes in PDF Format

It is appraised by experts that continual progression of new technology and science made human life simpler. Works can be done easier through high-tech machines and equipment. It gives less work for humans and job can be done faster. It makes human to feel comfortable and easy to live. It also helps people to organize their daily activities. Nowadays, computer is the most useful and popular invention to every people. It is true because computer makes life more enjoyable and through this persons may be able to discover and explore new things. Using computer is like an adventure. It provides people all the information and is used to solve mathematical calculations. Through science and technology, it is easier for inhabitants to communicate with other people around the globe. It is also significant in the field of business because transactions and other events are done through the computer. Science and technology enables every people to live in an easy and modern way of life. It opens the door and allows people to enter into a new world which is fully developed and well civilized.

With the arrival of the internet and the cell phone, kids are also benefited. This new technology to the older generation is novice and unique in their lives. New science and technology offers breakthroughs in life times and children’s lifetimes too that will significantly impact the world in which people live. It is believed that scientific discovery and technological innovations in medical science will be able to cure cancer, HIV-AIDS and other life threatening diseases. New medical technology is being continuously developed, from clinical trials for pharmaceuticals to robotics for complex surgery.

New science and technology may also one day lead to mainstream alternative fuel vehicles, space travel for civilians, virtual reality conferences, a worldwide network of personal wireless electronics, data-transmission at the speed of thought, reversal of global warming and too many other innovations to mention. Latest research in computer science is not limited to medical, business, gadget, IT, space, and education. But it will mean better health, more knowledge and more power.

As technology has grown ever more prevalent in everyday life, so too has it  became important to the business world. Smart workplaces and new software  allow modern companies to reach new levels

New research technology is in a continuous process and researchers have explored new topics for investigations such as environment and renewable energy, space science, electronics, stem-cell investigations and many others. All these developments in human lives are wholly credited to the amazing invention of computers. The computer application is used and acknowledged worldwide. New models of computers are emerging daily, having different features, unique shapes and attractive designs.

Basically technical innovation of computers has changed the life of humans. It occupies a prominent place in their lives. Used and cheap computers are available in the market for the benefits of students and professionals, working mothers or for home-based jobs, from businesses to medicine, from education to aviation, from government departments to the corporate trading world, these used computers and refurbished laptops are performing incredible tasks. Cheap computers and refurbished laptops are available at very affordable rates to help students and young professionals to enhance their career.

Advancement in business technology help companies get an edge on their competition as well as bring more engaging products and services into the market place. But it must be realized that as new business technology will lead to more productivity, it will also create tough competition at global market.

It is documented in researches that the initiation of science and technology has brought so many progresses in the life of today in whole world. Science is the intelligent and practical activity incorporating the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. It is the investigation of the understanding of the natural world. Technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. It is the use of the resources made available by nature to produce and make changes. Technology is the way we apply scientific knowledge for practical purposes. It includes machines such as computers but also procedures and processes. It might seem like all technology is only electronic, but that is just most modern technology.

As far scientific development is concerned, it is essential for the development of any nation. Its most important contribution is that it helps in creating the larger social ecosystem required for growth. It promotes new ideas, removes all feudal institutions, conservatism, superstitions. It makes society open to change which is essential for the growth of society. But it also creates many unintentional challenges and also may be inadequate by itself. So it is not a solution and needs to be managed well and supported by appropriate policy framework.

In India, in the year 1965, our Prime Minister Late Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri gave the slogan, “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan”. It can be said that without scientific discovery, nation cannot progress. Military and farmers are main pillar of country and there is need for continual scientific development in these areas. In the year 1998, after the Pokaran tests, the then Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee also gave the slogan, when the changed it to, “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, and Jai Vigyan”. It is equally important for a country to be self-sufficient and strong in the field of science and technology for development and make good position at global level.

Recently, Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, indicated that India is the only country in the world which has amalgamation of democracy, demography, and demand. Hence, he has invited foreign investors to invest to give the India economy global recognition with a slogan “Make in India”. However, PM Mr. Narendra Modi has stated that, Government was taking good initiatives for skill development to guarantee the availability of skilled manpower for manufacturing. Science and technology can assist to convert these ideas in creating jobs in India. Science and technology not only help in Making in India/Making for India but there is a need to “Made in India”. Since decades, India purchased technology from abroad to make enhancement and development in country. There is desperate need to give emphasis on technique and technology so that technology is generated indigenously through the help to transform indigenous India as well as transforming global technology for Made in India. India has taken major steps in the field of science and technology and it has left its mark on every aspect of human life. From the development of various vaccines to genetically modified crops, Tissue Culture, Ayuraved, Homoepathy, Naturapathy or the launch of Aryabhatta to the development of ICBMs, India has showed its immense power to world that its science and technology is higher as compared to other countries.

India has taken major steps in the field of science and technology and it has left its mark on every aspect of human life. From the development of various vaccines to genetically modified crops, Tissue Culture, Ayuraved, Homoepathy, Naturapathy or the launch of Aryabhatta to the development of ICBMs, India has showed its immense power to world that its science and technology is higher as compared to other countries.

What is technology? And why is it so important for us in everyday life? -  voestalpine

It is recognised that technological advancement and scientific innovations are significant at the time to different ages in different societies, psychologically if not practically, in a variety of modern societies, for example, young people presently feel a heightened empathy with the digital age (Bennett and Maton, 2010). Many studies have shown that as globalisation becomes an progressively significant factor in’ economic success of nations, technological competence is also vital tool for surviving and prospering not only in society, but in its constituent parts, such as employment, education, agriculture, and industry.

To summarise, science and technology is major threads of global society to live in enhanced way. Technological advancements have shown a substantial growth concerned with each and every field whether it be the communication systems, astronomy, semiconductor devices, automobiles, and electronic devices of daily usage, bio-electronic devices, building and architectural design techniques or the computers. India has made unparalleled development in the arena of scientific research and technology during the post-independence period and there are countless possibilities. It is well established in scientific studies that progress of science and technology in India has been quite significant. Innovative methods, products and better quality goods have been developed in the country. India has made fast progress in the frontline areas of science and technology like space research and atomic energy. There is a need to plan and organize in a way so as to be able to harness intellectuals in the right direction and provide it with the right opportunities. Science and technology are used as an effectual instrument for progress and change. It is being brought into the mainstream of economic planning in the sectors of agriculture, industry, and services. The country’s resources are used to derive the maximum production for the benefit of humanity and improvement in the quality of life.

Why Science Education is Important in Early Childhood

Science Education | Department of Curriculum & Pedagogy

Young children are naturally inquisitive, full of questions about the world around them, and the drive to investigate how things work. It follows, therefore, that we should take advantage of this innate curiosity and start channeling their enthusiasm for scientific discovery as early on as possible. In this article, we’ll explore some of the reasons why science education is so important in early childhood, and how you can support this in your childcare setting.

The Benefits of Early Years Science Education

Providing opportunities for scientific discovery in early years settings is beneficial to young children in several ways:

1. It can foster a lifelong love of science

Children are programmed to explore and experiment right from the start, even as babies. On the other hand, research suggests that by the age of 7, most children have developed either a positive or negative attitude towards science education that will remain entrenched. So by tapping into their natural predispositions early on, during this key developmental phase, we can nurture and establish a positive approach to science education that will stay with them into the future.

Early Years Science Education - Happy ChildStarting early helps foster a lifelong love of science

2. It gives a basic grounding in scientific concepts and scientific thinking

Even the very simplest activities can introduce children to scientific concepts and stimulate scientific thinking. Early years science education can provide a strong foundation in terms of both what is learned, and how it’s learned, that will stand them in good stead. By encouraging and directing their natural curiosity, and familiarising them with basic scientific vocabulary, early years educators can help children begin to make sense of the world around them, and gain some understanding of how things work.

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3. It supports the development of other skills and attributes

Science education activities provide children with opportunities to develop and practice many different skills and attributes. These include communication skills, collaborative skills, team working and perseverance, as well as analytical, reasoning and problem-solving skills. Help them expand their vocabulary by using scientific terms that are appropriate for their age group. Encourage them to extend and embed their learning through related literacy, numeracy and creative activities.

Early Years Science EducationScience activities provide opportunities to develop collaboration and communication skills

Taking the right approach to early years science education

When it comes to instigating early years science education in your childcare setting, there are plenty of resources available to get you started, as well as ideas for activities (see, for example, our article on ‘10 Early Years Science Activities EYFS‘). But there are also some key considerations to keep in mind:

  • The process is more important than the results: although it’s really valuable for the children to gain some scientific understanding along the way, finding the ‘right’ answer should not be your topmost objective; the main goals are to channel their curiosity, and to foster their investigative skills.
  • Be open to child-led discovery: as well as organising specific activities for the children to participate in, try to look out for spontaneous, daily opportunities for scientific discovery, guided by you but ultimately led by the children. Encourage them to always experiment and ask questions, and make sure you have plenty of resources available for them to use.
Early Years Science EducationChild-led discovery activities are a great way to encourage scientific curiosity
  • Offer active, fun, hands-on experiences: most young children love physical exploration – the messier the better – so if you can tap into this, their favoured learning style, you’ll find it much easier to engage them and maintain their interest. Keep activities short and varied, and always make sure that there is plenty of opportunity for active, first-hand involvement for everyone.

The Use of Science in Environmental Decision Making

A Student's Guide to Conservation and Environmental Science - Best Degree  Programs

The level of scientific literacy in the United States is low by so many measures there isn’t a reason to rollout the data on science education in the United States to make the point. With a determined effort, we could overcome our science literacy problem, but I see no sign of deep concern about the state of science education. The impact of our lack of science literacy can be seen in decision making in the White House and in regulatory agencies like EPA that are aggressively resisting science. Environmental science is seen as biased and even anti-capitalist. I’m certain this is the result of climate and other environmental scientists expressing their alarm about the impact of pollution on the planet and their effort to communicate that threat. Instead of debating the validity of scientific findings on scientific grounds, some people reject environmental science entirely. This exacerbates our science literacy problem and is profoundly troubling.

We live in a complex world, built by centuries of scientific advances from the Enlightenment to the present. That world provides enormous benefits like the computer I am writing this on, but also creates enormous risks ranging from global warming to biodiversity loss to exposure to toxic substances. We rely on science for our comforts and economic advances, but also for the analysis of risk and methods of mitigating or reducing risk. To some, the science that yields economic benefit seems pure but the science that identifies potential costs seems biased.

Science is not without value choices and ideology. The problems that scientists choose to study reflect what they consider important and what they consider to be important reflects their values. An earth scientist’s values may simply be the advance of human knowledge about how the earth works and may have little connection to any concerns about the impact of humans on the planet’s well-being, but even the goal of advancing knowledge must also be seen as a value choice. While values play a role in science, the scientific method places a high value on the role of measurement and observations. In other words, a high value is placed on verified facts and observations. Good science tries to reduce bias. The scientific method itself, the importance of replicability, peer review and other standards of scientific inquiry are designed to make it possible to establish facts. These methods are reasonably clear, and most scientists and students of science know how to distinguish sound science from unsound science. But scientific illiterates, like President Donald Trump and a number of other government and business leaders, can’t distinguish sound science from unsound science and they assume that environmental science reflects the biases of the “ideological” scientists who choose to study environmental issues.

Some political leaders assume that scientific analysis is like political analysis, subject to spin and a wide range of interpretations. While new discoveries and observations may be interpreted in a variety of ways, the goal of science is to achieve consensus. Scientists read the challenges to their work and learn from critiques and from each other. That is a key way that scientific knowledge expands. A competent doctor will encourage patients to get a second opinion of a diagnosis. In fact, they will engage colleagues in that effort before informing a patient of their diagnosis.

While science operates according to a carefully constructed and reasonably well understood set of norms, it can and has been corrupted by economic power. Tobacco interests were famous for paying scientists to downplay the connection between smoking and lung cancer. Most recently we saw the conflict between sound science and economic interest in EPA as that agency tried to decide how to regulate asbestos. Lisa Friedman of the New York Times reported last week that:

Celebrating Earth Day & the Environmental Benefits of Electricity -  Carolina Country

“Senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency disregarded the advice of their own scientists and lawyers in April when the agency issued a rule that restricted but did not ban asbestos, according to two internal memos…Andrew Wheeler, the E.P.A. administrator, said when the rule was issued that it would significantly strengthen public health protections. But in the memos, dated Aug. 10, more than a dozen of E.P.A.’s own experts urged the agency to ban asbestos outright, as do most other industrialized nations…It was not the first time administration has sidelined government scientists. Under President Trump, the E.P.A. has rolled back environmental protections and come under criticism for relaxing rules on toxic chemicals. Last month, the agency weakened a proposed standard for cleaning up groundwater pollution caused by toxic chemicals. In March, it scaled back a proposed ban on a deadly chemical in paint strippers. And it has rejected a proposed ban on the use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that has sickened farm workers and been linked to developmental disabilities in their children…”

The Trump EPA rarely misses an opportunity to tilt a regulation away from human and environmental safety toward a narrow but well defined economic benefit.  During the 2020 presidential campaign, we will hear that this anti-regulatory zeal has contributed to the business confidence that has contributed to the economic growth we have seen during the Trump Administration. While the idea horrifies me, business antipathy to regulation seems hard-wired into America’s culture. The counter to that cultural norm takes place when there has been an empirical demonstration of harm. When the same type of Boeing jet crashes twice within months for reasons that seem suspiciously similar, business leaders join the public in a call for greater government oversight.

We put our faith in companies and governments to protect us against potential risks we don’t understand in order to benefit from products and services that provide the benefits we want. It is a science that creates the technologies we don’t understand but benefit from and it is a science that must be relied on to alert us to the risks of these technologies. But the system breaks down if the science is not objective, not understood, or ignored.

The risks caused by toxic substances in our environment, or by pollutants like greenhouse gases, are complicated. Sometimes causality is difficult to prove. Sometimes danger is in the future and models must be developed to project future harm. The danger to children of lead in water is long-term and may not be immediately obvious. The impact of smoking on your lungs is also not immediate. The danger of flawed software in an airplane is sadly more immediate and the outcome more dramatic. Biodiversity, on the other hand, is maintained by a complex web of biological and chemical relationships that scientists can spend a lifetime studying and still know only a fraction of the reality of risk posed to any given ecological system.

What decision-makers need is at least a minimal understanding of chemistry, biology, physiology, physics, and ecology to undertake sophisticated and effective environmental decision-making. They also need to value the preservation of the planet for posterity. The need for a viable planet is obvious to many people, but not to everyone. Jeff Bezos recently presented his vision of space travel that would create artificial environments in outer space for a trillion earthlings. I guess a trillion would include a lot of Amazon Prime customers. According to a recent piece by Kenneth Chang of the New York Times:

Premium Photo | Environment earth day in the hands of trees growing  seedlings.

“Mr. Bezos described on Thursday a dreamy, ambitious vision of the future: a trillion people in space, living not on moons or planets, but bucolic space colonies…He spent the first half of the presentation selling the idea of space and countering criticisms that space exploration is a frivolous pursuit that diverts people’s attention from pressing problems on Earth. But he argued that humanity must eventually push into space. Rising energy consumption is crucial to raising the standard of living for more people, but “We will run out of energy,” Mr. Bezos said. “This is just arithmetic. It’s going to happen.”At that point, to remain on Earth would require rationing and declining opportunities. But the rest of the solar system offers virtually limitless resources. “Do we want stasis and rationing or do we want dynamism and growth?” he asked rhetorically. “This is an easy choice. We know what we want. We just have to get busy.”

It may be that someday we will develop the technology to live in outer space, it may be that we will so poison the planet that we’ll have no choice. But the scientific case made by Bezos claims that we will run out of energy. That is a scientific conclusion that may well be worthy of study. But Bezos cites no study when he makes the claim. He might want to take a closer look at the sun as a source of energy. Other decision-makers have dismissed climate change, the impact of asbestos, smoking, and countless other dangers. They assert scientific conclusions that fit into their plans to accumulate money, power, or both. We need to do a better job of integrating scientific knowledge into management decision-making. If we don’t we will leave ourselves open to sales pitches ranging from Bezos futuristic vision to Trump’s more nostalgic rap. The world is too complicated, interconnected, and dangerous to act without real scientific observations and analysis. Contact us for more information.


Impact of Information Technology on Society

Information has become an important part of our daily lives and we are living in the age of information. Information has a great impact on our society. Technology is playing a crucial role  in the success of organizations in the ‘information age.’ The changing times and the invention of the computer have transformed every aspect of our society. However, the rapid growth of technology has both positive and negative aspects in our lives. Information technology is a broad subject concerned with all aspects of managing and processing information, especially within a large organization or company. IT is generally not used in reference to personal or home computing and networking.

The impact of Information technology is increasing day by day. Every day, we use Information technology in several ways. Computers are highly affordable and thus reach a larger number of consumers. IT has not only brought the world closer but also made it an interdependent system.  It means we can share information quickly and effectively, without bothering about geographical distance.

With the help of IT communication has become cheaper, faster, and more efficient.  With the help of the internet, direct, face-to-face communication has become so easy. Even mobile phones have become cheaper, which have modern facilities to communicate effectively.

The most important of IT has been the job recruitments. Student study IT and thus the rate of employment is increasing with time. Youths are highly inclined towards IT as it has a wider scope of jobs openings. Employment opportunities are also rising.

Industry experts believe, that technology keeps on changing every day. Thus, to keep pace IT practitioners need to constantly study and keep themselves updated with the change for their job security.

It is a true fact that we are living in the era of computers and technologies. The impact of these new technologies is enormous. In many aspects we find IT solving complex problems very efficiently. With increasing technologies, the world is now a smaller and united place to live in.

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The Role of Science in the 21st Century

The challenging environment for science in the 21st century

The Look and Feel of 21st Century Science | by Joe Brewer | Age of  Awareness | Medium

Successful universities the world over are deeply connected with the social, economic and political environment in which they serve. However, universities should also operate independently as they are not factories or political tools, and they do not need charismatic leaders the way armies and churches might.

Universities are collectives, and open, critical discourse based on democratic principles is essential for their success. As part of their time-honoured compact with society, universities should not blandly surrender to outside pressures, but actively and critically engage with them.

Social and political context

There are an increasing number of national imperatives that universities need to consider in deciding how to position themselves. For instance, since the dawn of South Africa’s democracy, there has been a push to broaden access to higher education in order to accommodate more students with different prior experiences, different goals and ambitions, and different levels of preparedness. Importantly, transformation of our universities has included calls to diversify the professoriate and to change the culture of universities.

The weak South African economy suggests that the country’s universities should prepare their students more directly for the job market. There are cries for a stronger focus on practical skills development, almost akin to vocational training. There is an expectation that academics and researchers should make more direct contributions to marketable innovations, and be more inventive with developing practical applications and solutions to everyday problems.

Funding agencies call for research programmes with more direct relevance to South Africa. There are, thus, enormous pressures for curriculum reform, and invariably arguments for decolonisation, with all its political ramifications.

Coupled to the above, a burgeoning agenda for African development is being set by the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and looking further afield, the global socio-economic and political environment for change is being defined fairly comprehensively by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. These are further considerations that universities are being asked to take on board to frame their research and teaching programmes if they are going to be relevant in the future.

Politicisation of research

Bringing 21st-century science into schools -

The challenges for science in the 21st century do not end there. A real problem today is that truth is increasingly being undervalued, and scientific research is becoming politicised, for example, in the context of climate change. This is a scourge that is spreading world-wide.

The efforts required to advance knowledge for societal benefit are not always understood and appreciated by society, including by decision-makers. The need for an independent, critical academy is not always appreciated and, on the contrary, is often seen to be a threat by many autocratic regimes.

It is becoming difficult to discriminate between real and bogus information ‘out there’ because much of the information on the internet has not been sufficiently tested for veracity and truth. Lies can be propagated at a phenomenal rate. For universities, which should pride themselves on uncovering the truth, this is debilitating. In this environment, it is also becoming more difficult to counter plagiarism and protect intellectual property – matters that are of profound importance for our universities.

Most, but not all, citizens of the world have free and easy access to information, which begs the question: “Are our universities becoming less relevant?” They will be if educational and research systems are not adjusted. We certainly need more discussion on how universities should change, and this will remain a hotly contested area in planning for the future of universities for many years to come.

Global challenges

There is a growing number of substantive challenges in academia. Across a majority of disciplines, we are moving into the era of extremely large data sets, calling for smarter and more secure means of storing and transporting data, as well as accessing and mining data intelligently for research and decision-making.

This means that an increasing number of researchers across many different disciplines, including the humanities and social sciences, need to become more computationally competent. In addition, these researchers need to be preparing to work in larger, multidisciplinary teams to resolve quantitative problems more effectively. While this need is set to grow, this transition is arguably not happening fast enough.

The world-wide science system has become enormous, and it is proving to be extremely difficult to keep up with research outputs in one’s own narrow research area of interest, let alone more broadly. The flood of information is overwhelming and we need smarter ways to keep up, or else we run the risk of duplicating efforts and falling behind.

On the topic of peer-reviewed publications, it has finally dawned on academics and universities that they should not be paying exorbitant costs to access publicly-funded research and in so doing enrich large corporations. The entire world of publications in this age of the internet is in a process of radical change. Academics need to seriously contemplate the pros and cons of open access, and actively participate in the global discussions currently taking place, for example, around the proposed European Plan S.

Developing science responsibly

There are enormous disparities in science around the world, which demand that we think more deeply about how we develop science more extensively on a global scale for the good of all of humanity.

The big science questions need big – meaning expensive – research infrastructures. This calls for large, multidisciplinary teams and multinational collaborations. We must ask how we can participate more effectively, especially from the southern tip of Africa. The rest of Africa is falling behind because there has been relatively little commitment from many African countries to invest in scientific research infrastructure and in people development. This will continue to hold Africa back.

South Africa is globally connected though the internet, which means that the country is also susceptible to international terror through breaches in cybersecurity. The ways in which some international agencies and governments are protecting themselves against cyber-attacks are top secret for obvious reasons, which means that many countries in the developing world are left in the dark and will need to figure out their own solutions. African countries and their universities need to invest in their own programmes to interrogate cybersecurity for their own well-being and national security.

Open-ended, unfettered science in its purest form has, over the centuries, been pursued in the interests of understanding nature in a fundamental way, and long may that continue. Scientific ideas and discoveries have often been very successfully exploited for commercial gain and societal improvements, and much of the science system today the world over is designed to push scientists in the direction of more relevance. The applications of science coupled with critical thought have been essential in solving many problems facing society.

Usually, that impact has been positive, but not always. There has been collateral damage and unintended consequences along the way; for example, plastics in our oceans, and other harmful environmental effects. The military has been a strong supporter of science in many countries, including during apartheid South Africa. Science has been driven in particular ways to gain superior might. Many authoritarian states, such as North Korea, have invested significantly in a very narrow set of scientific endeavours and technologies with a singular purpose in mind.

Through the millennia, there has always been the potential for scientific outputs to be misused, from the time the simple domestic knife was invented. Science in the wrong hands can be catastrophic – and a climate for the misuse of science is growing.

Limited global resources

Some of the more difficult questions that academics need to think about relate to the consequences of the rapidly increasing global population and the stress this places on our resources and environment. This is already resulting in a power struggle for limited resources. The future of the human race depends on scientists finding more intelligent answers to difficult questions, and here researchers have a central role to play.

With the rapidly increasing world population one can conclude that, purely from a statistical viewpoint, each life is becoming less significant. It should boggle the mind, then, to think about what this could imply in terms of the potential for increased unethical behaviour towards our fellow human beings, for example, in terms of mass exterminations, human experimentation and cruelty.

We should think deeply about this and how academics can try to counter these tendencies in their work – by identifying the problem early on, and proposing solutions before the problem gets beyond our control.

History will show that so much has been accomplished by so few with so little over the past 100 years. This period has been unprecedented in the history of the human race. It is difficult to believe that the electron was discovered just over 100 years ago, and through science and the applications of science, technology, industrialisation and commercialisation, and sheer ingenuity, humans have been able to harness the fullest potential of the electron to fundamentally change the way in which we live our lives, not only in a technical sense, but also in a social sense. This tiny particle has come to define our age, namely the electronic age.

This stunning growth over a short period does raise unrealistic expectations that new scientific ideas and technologies needed to solve challenges in the 21st century will emerge just as easily, just as rapidly and just as cheaply, with the snap of a finger, so to speak.

But that is not correct.

Support for science

Our universities are working under extremely tight fiscal constraints. Academics are being asked to do much more with much less at a time when our universities are under enormous pressures to be ‘world class’. Science needs much more support for the public good.

In striving to be nationally responsive and world class, South African science must be connected with the global environment that frames science. We should be consolidating and setting the foundations to be world class. We need to be excellent in all aspects of the academic enterprise including our management, operations, teaching and learning, research and external engagements.

Universities in South Africa have been in a state of stress for a while, and one wonders whether an era of stability is possible in which to focus on core functions.

A successful and prosperous South Africa depends on a modern, scientifically literate and technically competent workforce, and here, universities have a central role to play. They are a precious resource.

Stakeholders need to engage more intelligently and constructively with each other within and without the university, or the idea of the university will be under threat. We are but temporary custodians of the institutions we inherit. The hope and expectation are that we will build on the foundations that have been laid by others over the years, and to leave it in a better state than we found it.

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Nithaya Chetty is professor of physics at the University of Pretoria and dean-elect of the faculty of science at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He is vice president of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics. He writes in his personal capacity.

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