Technology has become the subject of discussions these days, and why not, no one can deny its importance. It is inevitable in almost everything we do in our daily life. With the growth and advancements in new tools, it is expected that all fields of life should quickly adapt themselves according to the requirements of evolving era. Same is the case with higher education institutions. Higher education institutions are deeply intertwined with and linked to societies they serve. Higher education is challenged to spur societal change and progress by encouraging the development of new technologies and, at the same time, to respond to demands created by technology. (Perna & Ruiz, 2016).
Many scholarly journal articles have been written to discuss different aspects of role of technology in higher education, whether ‘digitization’ of education is equally effective as traditional learning? Are our institutions and organizations are equipped properly to produce skilled workers who could compete in technologically-driven society? Are our teachers and instructors ready to embrace the change in learning methods and techniques? This particular journal article analyse role of technology in higher education very critically. ‘More than tools? Making sense of the ongoing digitizations of higher education’ by Castaneda and Selwyn, is all about problematization associated with digitization of education. According to the journal article, now isn’t the time to hush our inner voices and concern about technology ruling the education system. It is high time to discuss the loop holes, and flaws rendered by this digitization. One concern is, mostly it’s all about incorporation of technology in learning, it pays little consideration to underlying pedagogies and teaching models. the supposedly ‘urgent’ issues that instead take up the time and attention of educational technologists (such as instrumental or contextual concerns over ‘what works and why?’), cannot be fully understood or addressed without detailed knowledge of the pedagogical underpinnings of the technology use (Cobo, 2016). Talking about pedagogy implies being concerned about all aspects of any educational process – be it intellectual, structural, or instrumental terms. Paying close attention to pedagogy allows us to understand that the educational use of technology is not a chaotic process with dynamics that are governed by chance. Instead, any educational use of technology is a complex process that is shaped, conditioned, and modified by a range of pedagogic actors and influences. All of these elements need to be known if we are to understand or improve the educational process (Decuypere & Simons, 2016). Also, how digital technology is shaping human emotions, feelings, and behavior needs to be explored .For example, how are digital technologies mitigating and/or exacerbating feelings of disconnection, distancing and what might be termed ‘alienation’? How are people proving able to accommodate mismatches between human feelings and machine logics? It is causing hyper individualization, placing students in personal formative cycles. Digital technology in education is responsible for the ‘commercialisation’ of universities, giving more hold to IT industry. As Kevin Carey (2012) observed, the most influential thought leaders in higher education are increasingly likely to be programmers, hackers and trillion-dollar Silicon Valley IT industry that has grown up around them. In short, the findings of this journal article suggest that the digitization of higher education is something that needs to be framed in problematic rather than celebratory terms. While this journal article critically and successfully highlighted the side effects of use of digital technology in higher education, one can not overlook the brighter side of it. In my view, it’s the compulsive need of any society to evolve with changing time, and higher education institutions can not be kept away from evolving, as these are the producers and users of technology. But one can definitely bring improvement to minimize the mechanization of individual and society. Faculty and staff can be trained to adopt new technologies and to change the mindset of ‘teach as they were taught’. Institutional leadership and strategic campus planning will likely be required to counter faculty apathy and faculty resistance to new technologies and thereby maximize any potential benefits.(Perna & Ruiz). While technology offers students to be more independent, hyper individualisation can avoided by transforming teaching techniques, engaging students in more group activities, again this all goes back to the fact that pedagogical training is crucial. If teachers and instructors are better equipped, then no programmers and IT engineers can ever replace them.
The second journal article talks about ‘The effect of games and simulations on higher education’ as part of digitization of education. This journal article by Dimitrios Vlachopoulos and Agoritsa Makri attempts to systematically review the literature relevant to games and simulation pedagogy in higher education. Two researchers collaborate to apply a qualitative method, coding and synthesizing the results using multiple criteria. The main objective is to study the impact of games and simulations with regard to achieving specific learning objectives. The beneficial contribution of game-based learning is broadly identified by the majority of reviewers, especially regarding cognitive outcomes. Results indicate that games can be as effective as traditional learning modes, revealing their effectiveness in promoting knowledge acquisition (Smetana & Bell, 2012; Backlund & Hendrix, 2013; Clark et al., 2015; Warren et al., 2016), as well as content understanding and concept learning (Connolly et al., 2012; Li & Tsai, 2013; Fu et al., 2016). Additionally, students achieve their learning goals through playfulness and problem-based learning (Tsekleves et al., 2014), thus leading to self-efficacy and transfer of learning (Gegenfurtner et al., 2014). Serious gaming, especially given the context of enthusiastic students, has proved to be an effective training method in domains such as medical education, for example, in clinical decision-making and patient interaction (de Wit-Zuurendonk & Oei, 2011). Similarly, Kleinheskel (2014) illustrates the importance of designing self-reflective simulating activities for nursing students, and aligning such design with cognitive outcomes. When students self-reflect on simulated clinical experiences, they add to their existing knowledge, and apply new knowledge to transformative learning. Poikela et al. (2015), in a simulated nursing procedure, compare a computer-based simulation with a lecture to examine the meaningful learning students may achieve via the two teaching methods. They conclude that students who participate in the computer simulation are more likely to report meaningful learning outcomes than those taking the lecture, due to the strong presence of reflection-based activities and metacognitive themes. Similar results are present in Chen, (2015), survey in which both solitary players and collaborative groups achieve equally positive learning outcomes in a game. Students significantly improve judging by their pre- and post-test assessments, which indicates that the gaming experience affects their overall performance, and, most likely, promotes conceptual understanding. In my view, gaming and simulation motivates and develop interest in technologically driven students, each generation had their own best way of learning, and modern ay students learn best this way. Students are challenged to develop interpersonal, analytical and creative skills, discouraging absenteeism, feelings of boredom and reluctance, leading to academic achievement.
The third journal article, ‘Digital academia: How higher education is affected by digital technology’ written by Anton Eriksmo and Johan Sundberg is about understanding the effects of digital technology is important for higher education institutions in order to make good investments of digital technology. In this study themed interviews were conducted at a veterinary education to collect data regarding the use of a multi touch medical display table in the organization. The findings show that materiality of digital technology affects all aspects of higher education if it is facilitated by the organization. The findings also show that the organization is vital to the incorporation of digital technology in teaching as well as learning and that already existing materiality in the HE organization needs to be analyzed to understand the potential effects of new digital technology. The study indicates that material aspects of digital technology afford new action in all aspects of HE over time if it is facilitated by the organization. In accordance with multiple studies (Kirkwood, 2014; Lin & Ha, 2009; Alavi et al, 2003; Kolb & Kolb, 2005), the analysis concludes that simply implementing new digital technology does not afford new work processes in education. The involvement of the organization is imperative because any changes to teaching or learning using material aspects of new digital technology is likely to fail if it is not supported by the organization. In my view, this journal article is clear example of how working collaboratively guarantees success, no new technology can change anything if students, instructors and organization aren’t playing their respective roles.
The different views about role of technology in higher education clearly shows the complexity in overall phenomenon. Where the first journal article highlighted the flaws, and complained about the mechanization of individuals and society, the second talks about, how gamification and simulation actually changing the learning trends. This technology is used to attract attention, and make learning easier for students, even students show remarkable difference in pre and post assessments, after learning through gamification and simulation. Even the driest course content becomes appealing to learners through this way. Then the third journal article, emphasizes the fact that technology alone stands for nothing, if the driving forces, ( teachers, students, and organizations ) are not doing their jobs rightfully. Together these can make a difference, otherwise chaos. These three journal articles advocating entirely different views about technology in higher education, shows that much work needs to be done, to define the limits, to draw the lines, otherwise a time is fast approaching that technology would replace teachers and institutions, imbalancing the law of nature. If everything would be mechanized, there would be no one to teach basic human moral and characters, what good will an emotionless world would bring? ‘Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!’ ( Isaiah 10:15 ). This beautiful verse is enough to describe my reflection, tools are made to use, not to rule.
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