In recent years, technology has revolutionized practices in a wide range of industries. Therefore, in order to be successful, an organization must include technology in its day-to-day activities, and it must remain up-to-date with the latest changes in technology. One industry in which technology has made a significant impact is education. When considering the use of technology in the education industry, it is important to evaluate the economic, environmental, social, and ethical implications of using technology for daily activities.
In terms of economics, technology in the education industry has implications on both the organizational and on the level of the national and global economy. More than ever, individual schools are dedicating large proportions of their budgets to technology (Schaffauser 2016). This includes spending on both hardware and software, while spending on teacher training and technical support is on the decline (Schaffhauser 2016). Specific technologies that schools are buying include tablets, laptop computers, desktop computers, interactive whiteboards and displays, and digital teaching materials (Schaffhauser 2016).
At the same, technology is making it possible for institutions of higher education to offer courses to a wider range of students. In the last few years, online classes from for-profit, private nonprofit, and public educational institutions have become increasingly popular (Friedman 2017). This alternative form of technology-based learning can provide advanced learning opportunities for individuals who might otherwise be unable to pursue higher education, due to outside commitments such as work or family obligations. At the same time, it is important to note that having fewer students on college campuses could also lead to economic problems for certain schools that have traditionally relied on their presence (Friedman 2017).
The use of technology in the education industry can also have important effects on national and global economic development (Dumciuviene 2015). An understanding of technology is crucial for success in a wide range of industries, it is important for countries to include technology in their education systems in order to ensure that their economies remain competitive on a global scale (Dumciuviene 2015). In developing countries in particular, using technology in the classroom, technology can help address differences in educational opportunities in different regions (Livingston 2016), which could lead to a more broadly educated population that can help the country’s economy advance in the future.
One environmental implication of the increasing use of technology in the education industry is a reduction in the amount of paper used in the classroom (Ngim 2013). Instead of printing out information for classroom activities or for meetings, professionals in the education industry may choose to send out email newsletters or prepare electronic slide presentations (Ngim 2013). Some schools have even set the goal of one day going entirely paperless (Ngim 2013). This can lead to significant savings in natural resources, which is beneficial for the environment.
The growth of online learning also has important environmental benefits. Instead of commuting to school, online students can take classes from home, so they do not generate pollution and fossil fuel emissions by driving to campus every day (Hung 2015). Also, online learning reduces construction demands, which can save resources such as plastic, metal and wood (Hung 2015). When classes are offered online, schools also do not have to worry about heating or cooling classroom, which provides another opportunity to save energy and limit contributions to climate change.
One of the positive social implications of using technology in the education industry is that it may help close achievement gaps (Stanford University 2014). Often, student from low-income families and racial minority groups have less access to technology at home than more affluent students (Stanford University 2014). Bringing technology into the classroom to support interactive learning can reduce the likelihood that at-risk students will end up failing their classes or dropping out of school (Stanford University 2014).
However, it is important to note that making technology an integral part of education can also increase the likelihood that students will use it outside of class, where it can have negative impacts on social relationships (Wall Street Journal 2015). Instead of interacting with friends and family face-to-face, more people are communicating remotely through social media platforms, which may reduce the quality of relationships (Wall Street Journal 2015). Giving more students access to technology through education may exacerbate this growing social concern.
Finally, there are also ethical implications of the increasing use of technology in the classroom (Mattison 2017). For instance, allowing students to use the internet can increase the likelihood of plagiarism (Mattison 2017). However, it is important to note that this problem can be combated by requiring students to cite their sources (Mattison 2017). In fact, this can have positive ethical implications, since it can remind students of the importance of providing others with credit for their work.
Another ethical implication of increasing technology use in the education industry is blurring the line between professional and personal communication (Mattison 2017). Email can be used for both professional and personal communications, and it is essential for teachers and students to ensure that their technology-based communications remain professional (Mattison 2017). Educational professionals are also faced with the ethical challenge of determining how to appropriately use school-provided technologies. For instance, if a school purchases a laptop for a teacher to use, the teacher must make the ethical determination of when it is appropriate to use the technology for personal purposes, such as answering personal emails or checking their social media accounts.
In conclusion, the growth of technology in the education industry presents a wide range of implications. These include economic implications, environmental implications, social implications, and ethical implications. While many of these implications are positive, others are negative. Therefore, in the future, educational organizations must weigh the costs and benefits of the various technology options that they may integrate into their practice.
- Dumciuviene, D. (2015). The impact of education policy to country economic development. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 191, 2427-2436.
- Friedman, J. (2017). Study: online course enrolment rising rapidly at private nonprofits. US News. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/higher-education/online-education/articles/2017-05-03/study-online-learning-enrollment-rising-fastest-at-private-nonprofit-schools
- Hung, D. (2015). 4 unsung environmental benefits of online education. Triple Pundit. Retrieved from http://www.triplepundit.com/2015/05/4-unsung-environmental-benefits-online-education/
- Is technology making people less sociable? (2015). The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/is-technology-making-people-less-sociable-1431093491
- Livingston, S. (2016). Classroom technologies narrow education gap in developing countries. The Brookings Institution. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2016/08/23/classroom-technologies-narrow-education-gap-in-developing-countries/
- Mattison, L. (2017). Ethical issues with using technology in the classroom. Study.com. Retrieved from http://study.com/blog/ethical-issues-with-using-technology-in-the-classroom.html
- Ngmin, R. (2013). Yale going paperless to save money, time, and trees. Yale Information Technology. Retrieved from https://its.yale.edu/news/yale-going-paperless-save-money-time-and-trees
- Schaffhauser, D. (2016). Report: education tech spending on the rise. The Journal. Retrieved from https://thejournal.com/articles/2016/01/19/report-education-tech-spending-on-the-rise.aspx
- Technology can close achievement gaps, improve learning. (2014). Stanford University. Retrieved from https://ed.stanford.edu/news/technology-can-close-achievement-gaps-and-improve-learning-outcomes