The impact of technology on our day-to-day lives is difficult to overstate. In the last 20 years alone, we have seen the incredible proliferation of various areas of high technology. We can consider the use of the mobile phone, for example, which in the space of two decades has gone from a tool simply to call and send text messages, to a central hub of applications in every area imaginable, ranging from business communications and email, to gaming and digital music.
As with other industries, education is by no means immune to the ongoing technological revolution that is transforming society. The vast offerings of online education programs and the increasing use of digital tools in the classroom, for instance, present new opportunities for educators. As leaders in education, we have realized that we simply have two choices when considering how important technology is in education: to adapt to the new opportunities and demands that come our way, or to risk being overtaken in the increasingly competitive environment of providing education.
A means to an end, and a responsibility to adapt
A useful starting point in analyzing the importance of technology in education, is to first consider the purpose of education itself. This is a broad question, and there can be many individual reasons for pursuing higher education. From our perspective, we naturally want to provide our students with an unmatched learning experience, to feed curiosity and to further educational boundaries and accelerate knowledge in new areas. But importantly, we should also not view our responsibility to students as only being for the time they are studying with us. Rather, we must see our responsibility as being to fully prepare our students for the lives and careers they wish to pursue.
We are proud to welcome students from backgrounds as diverse as the world itself is, but one commonality among all of them is the need to engage and embrace technology in their future careers, whichever field that may be. It is therefore not just our wish, but our responsibility to integrate technology in how we educate, both in terms of content and delivery. This way, we best prepare our students for the job market and provide them with more opportunities to grow and develop as a result.
A further responsibility of educators is the need to adapt to the day-to-day realities facing our students. Almost all young people these days rely heavily on technology to communicate, connect and keep updated, and we need to account for this in our teaching styles. While the dangers of the overuse of technology are well-publicised, and important to keep in mind, it is part of our responsibility to stimulate engagement with our students in an effective and efficient manner. It would therefore be remiss of us to overlook the importance of technology as a key communication tool.
An opportunity to improve our service offering
Aside from our responsibility of enhancing our engagement with students and preparing them better for their future careers, another key aspect when considering how important is technology in education, is the impact of technology in improving how we educate. Innovation must be a core part of educators’ approach, and by testing new ideas, we at EHL have seen real benefits that we might otherwise not have been able to foresee.
With the use of virtual reality, for instance, we have been to test and deliver new tools that not only replicate ‘real life’ environments for students, but do so in a highly efficient manner and a flexibility to support individual learning. Online game-based learning has been shown to promote interaction and new ways of managing class dynamics. The usage of remote examinations have provided very effective solutions which can be simpler to organize and execute. While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly accelerated usage of technology-based solutions, the reality is that we have seen real benefits that will last well beyond the pandemic. In this respect, it has only served to reinforce our commitment to innovation and continual improvement in how we deliver education.
Central to all of these processes has been combing a flexible, open-minded approach with a rigorous testing system. As technology continues to evolve, it is certainly a challenge to keep a good pulse on new platforms and new opportunities for the education sector. In our experience, the key is to retain a strong focus on innovation and keep alert on the new technologies having an impact, not only within the education sector but in other industries as well.
Technology in education - combining experience with innovation
As with any form of change, the advent of new technologies can be viewed by more some as something of a ‘threat’, especially for those business, or educational institutions, with a track record of success. To give our own example, we at EHL are certainly very proud of our heritage and tradition, and there are of course important aspects of this that we want to maintain going forward. At the same time, the world is constantly evolving, and a big part of our continued development in recent years has been our understanding of technology in education as an opportunity, not a threat.
While the creation and delivery of new technologies often lies with technology-specific companies, the incorporation of such technology must be the responsibility of experienced educators. We have 125 years of experience in providing the very best education in hospitality management in the world; experience that continues to shape our values even today. While we cannot rely on our past or present-day success alone for future excellence, we feel confident that it is the combination of our experience and our constant commitment to innovation, that will lay the foundation for our continued development.
When addressing the question, how important technology is in education, we can therefore be very clear - our role as educators is to provide the optimal conditions for our students to flourish. By integrating technology into education, we have taken crucial steps that have enhanced our service offering and maintained our levels of excellence. Were we not to embrace technology, we can also be clear – we would be risking putting our students as a huge disadvantage for their future career ambitions, and as a result – risk our own very future. Technology in education then is much more than a will or a wish, it is a matter of survival.