Digital lab offers the students and the teachers an opportunity to create layers of digital information including both a virtual world and a real world element, to interact with in real time, says Dr Virendra Sangtani
The traditional “chalk and talk” method of teaching that has continued for hundreds of years has now been replaced by technology. It is the age of the “digital”. This new generation is more comfortable with collaborative, online technologies, where pen and notebooks formed the toolkit of previous generations, today’s learners come to class equipped with laptops, smart phones, tablets, etc.
The current era of inescapable technology has significant implication to education. The Digital Lab is in itself a “classroom learning digitised”.
The Digital Lab is the result of educational technology referring to the use of both physical hardware and educational theoretics. It covers several domains, including learning theory, online learning,
and m-learning (where mobile technologies are used) computer-based training. Educational Technology itself can be a subject. Such courses may be called “Information and Communication Technology (ICT)”. Educational technology includes many types of media that carry text, audio, streaming video, images, animation , and includes technology applications and processes satellite TV, CD-ROM, and computer-based learning, as well as local intranet/extranet and web-based learning. Educational technology and e-learning can occur in or out of the classroom. It can be instructor- led, synchronous learning or a nonsynchronous learning. It is suited to distance learning and in conjunction with face-to-face teaching, which is termed blended learning. Educational technology is used by learners and educators in homes, educational institutions, businesses, and other settings.
The Digital Lab may comprise of
E-Learning, including build out of courses and systems for various studies programmes; online laboratories; taxonomy of e-Courses.
Pedagogy including group-learning; active learning; teaching of multiple subjects together and knowledge management.
Instructional Technology aids to implement delivery to reach learners more effectively and develop instructional design via internet textbooks; virtual reality lab; virtual room concepts for cooperative scientific work. E.g. Media/ New Media Lab, Language Lab
Vision Systems for human action sensing, face recognition, and image processing algorithms for smoothing of high speed motion.
Engineering and Technical Education includes robotics; web enhanced design; virtual laboratories.
Digital lab serves the students and the teachers an opportunity to create layers of digital information including both a virtual world and a real world element, to interact with in real time. Active and collaborative learning is the means of education in delivering an enhanced learning taking full advantage of the increasingly powerful mobile devices matched with the capabilities of wireless communications.
Greater interaction among students is encouraged, the boundaries of control are being broken down, and a focus on enjoyment over grades is highlighted via digital lab learning. The teachers, today, have to have the dexterity in engaging the students along with the ability to teach. A digital learning lab provides for a virtual learning platform that simulates a virtual classroom or meetings by simultaneously mixing several communication technologies. For example, web conferencing software such as Go- ToTraining, WebEx Training or Adobe Connect allows students and instructors to communicate with each other via webcam, microphone, and real-time chatting in a group setting. Participants can answer polls or take tests. Students are able to whiteboard and screen cast when given rights by the instructor, who sets permission levels for text notes, microphone rights and mouse control.
A virtual classroom provides the opportunity for students to receive instructions from a qualified teacher directly in an interactive environment. Learners can also have direct access to their instructor for instant feedback and direction. The virtual classroom provides a structured schedule of classes, which can be helpful for students who may find the freedom of asynchronous learning to be overwhelming.
In addition, the virtual classroom provides a social learning. Most virtual classroom applications provide a recording feature. Each class is recorded and stored on a server which allows for instant playback of any class over the course of the school year. This can be extremely useful for students to review material and concepts for an upcoming exam. This provides students with the opportunity to watch any class that they may have missed, so that they do not fall behind. Parents and auditors have the conceptual ability to monitor any classroom to ensure that they are satisfied with the education the learner is receiving.
In higher education especially, the increasing tendency is to create a virtual learning environment (VLE). A growing number of physical universities, as well as newer online-only colleges, have begun to offer a select set of academic degree and certificate programmes via the Internet at a wide range of levels and in a wide range of disciplines. While some programs require students to attend some campus classes or orientations, many are delivered completely online.
Technology in education was a debatable topic amongst the society a few decades back. Everyone had his own views on modernising education and making it technology aided. There were a huge number of positives and negatives to education technology.
But, gradually educational institutes have embraced technology; they have realised the importance of technology in education. A digital lab is nothing but the amalgamation of all these technology to create one concrete unified environment to fabricate, learn and impart knowledge.
A virtual classroom provides the opportunity for students to receive instructions from a qualified teacher directly in an interactive environment. Learners can also have direct access to their instructor for instant feedback and direction
The educational technologies can improve a student’s achievement, so long as such tools are integrated thoughtfully into teaching and learning, suggests evidences. When digital capabilities like online environments are included meaningfully into instruction, students have new options to learn and achieve.
The effect of technology on education depends on the design of instruction. The design of the instruction considers for more contrasts in how and why people learn than the technology used to deliver the instruction. Educators and educational researchers should be encouraged to focus on determining how to better integrate the use of a given technology to facilitate learning, rather than asking if it works or if one is more effective than another.
A digital lab allows for a higher quality lessons through collaboration with teachers in planning and preparing resources. The students learn new skills: analytical, including improvements in reading comprehension. A digital lab also develops some writing skills: spelling, grammar, punctuation, editing and re-drafting. Still, new technologies encourage independent and active learning, and students’ responsibility for their own learning. The ICT proves that students who used educational technology felt more successful in school. They are more motivated to learn more and have increased self- confidence and self-esteem. It is also confirmed that many students found learning in a technology- enhanced setting more stimulating and much better than in a traditional classroom environment.
With technology, education has taken a whole new meaning that it leaves us with no doubt that our educational system has been transformed owing to the ever-advancing technology. Technology and education are a great combination if used together with a right reason and vision. Digital Labs are a proof of it!