How to use technology to improve learning and retention


Increasingly, people are relying on technology to help them in their education, whether it’s a child taking elementary school classes or a professional working toward a graduate degree. Internet access is a practical necessity at this point, allowing you to practice research, communicate with your professors and peers, and keep your notes and work organized. But what role should technology play? And is technology strictly a good thing for learning and retention?

The role of technology in learning environments

Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) Standards they are beginning to apply to more people and more learning environments. But what exactly do these standards include?

There is almost no limit to what technology can do, but here are some of the best categories worth exploring:

  • Recorded and reviewable lessons. For starters, technology can be used to record and, in the future, review lessons. So instead of relying on a single session with a teacher and a few handwritten notes on that lecture, students can fully capture the experience and review it at their leisure over the next few days. We also have the power to capture and distribute lessons to a much wider audience than ever before, which is why so many online learning institutions have sprung up in recent years.
  • Live demonstrations. Why just learn about volcanic activity when you can see it happening in front of you? The Internet and access to online video, audio, and other multimedia experiences have opened the door to more live demonstrations.
  • Interactive tutorials. Most of us learn best by doing, rather than learning something from a book or a diagram on a blackboard. With the right technology tools, students can review their lessons in the form of an interactive tutorial, practice new skills in real time, and potentially receive feedback in real time.
  • Gamification. Technology tools also give us the potential to gamify the learning experience. For example, students can earn rewards for completing specific assignments, following certain lessons, or earning badges based on their performance on the test. With the addition of VR and AR, this can be further developed, fully immersing people in their learning experiences.
  • Practice and accessibility. After learning something for the first time, you need to practice it and repeat it to truly absorb it. With the help of tablets and other portable devices, it is easier than ever for students to get practice and review the opportunities they need to learn and retain information.
  • Personalized experiences. Some technological tools also allow you to include more personalized experiences. For example, the curriculum could be explored in several different ways, or you can offer different types of feedback to students based on how they have performed or engaged with the material in the past.

The best advantages of technology in learning

Using technology in a learning environment can have many benefits, such as:

  • Higher levels of engagement. For the most part, people find the latest technology exciting and engaging. In the right circumstances, students will be able to pay more attention and therefore find it easier to retain critical information.
  • Simplicity and decomposition of complexity. Technology tools can also make it easier to divide complex topics into simpler and more accessible topics. This is especially true if you are using interactive tutorials and online lessons to guide students through a series of steps in the learning process.
  • Immediate feedback for students. In some cases, technology can provide students with real-time feedback. They don’t have to wait for a rating or personal review; a machine or an algorithm can tell them precisely what they are doing right or wrong.
  • Convenience and availability. There is no doubt that portable and mobile technologies make lessons much more convenient and accessible. People can learn anywhere, anytime and study in their spare time.
  • Permanence and persistence. If you’re not good at taking notes, or if you got disconnected during a conference, you might be lost without the technology. But with recorded lessons and better note taking, your acquired lessons will have more permanence.
  • Individualization. Certain types of technology work like little personal digital assistants for each student. This level of individualization allows lagging students to get the attention they need while allowing advanced students to continue to make unhindered progress.

Disadvantages to consider

However, there are also some drawbacks to consider, such as:

  • Acquisition and integration costs. Technology is expensive. Getting a tablet in the hands of all the students in a classroom can be a challenge to manage.
  • Technological skills gaps. The COVID-19 pandemic had made education more focused on technology, but there are still technology skills gaps to be resolved. For example, if students find it difficult to use technology, or if teachers cannot figure out how to integrate these tools into their lessons, many of the benefits will be lost.
  • Exchange rate. New technology does not remain static for long; it is constantly advancing. Therefore, it is easy for even the most progressive and up-to-date organizations to become obsolete if they are not continually changing.
  • The role of distraction. Technology can help the learning process in many ways, but it can also be distracting. Even the best of us occasionally stray away from our studies and work due to the entertainment value of our devices.
  • Excessive dependence. If you become dependent on technology tools to study and learn, you may find it difficult to learn or pay attention in other contexts.

Keys to Using Technology for Learning and Retention

If you want to use more technology in your ongoing efforts for learning, education, and memory retention, these tips can help:

  • Understand that “high tech” is not always good. Whether you’re trying to get a child to finish high school or trying to train a leadership team to expand your business, know that “high-tech” learning solutions aren’t always good. You don’t always need the latest and greatest technology to get things done, and in some contexts, technology is more of a hindrance than a help.
  • Use a combination of new technologies and old approaches. Don’t rely exclusively on technology for learning purposes. For example, you can use a mix of live, in-person, and recorded lectures, or a mix of old-school note-taking with modern and digital forms of organization. There are strengths and weaknesses in each approach, so strive to make the most of both.
  • To be up to date. The technology from a year ago could also be completely new. But after a few years, the old technology doesn’t seem all that cool or all that cool. If you want to get the most out of your tech tools, keep them up to date as much as possible.
  • Have a plan to eliminate distractions. How are you going to deal with the problem of distractions? For example, some devices have parental controls and other features to limit access to certain applications or websites. You can also impose time limits on yourself, mitigating the impact of distractions on your study or productive time.
  • Keep the focus on the individual. Individualized and personalized experiences are crucial for learning and retention. Try to find out your personal needs or the unique needs of the students you are teaching; some will find the technology much more accessible and attractive than others.
  • Stay customizable. There is no single recipe for using technology “right” in a learning environment, and technology itself is always changing. Consequently, it is critical for you and your organization to remain as adaptable as possible, adjusting your approach as you go.

When used wisely, technology can make it much easier for a person to learn new things and stay involved with the rest of their class. But it can also make learning difficult if used incorrectly. That is why it is critical to develop a high-level proactive plan for how you will use technology in a learning environment long before you start using it. Do that and you are in a much better position to produce the learning outcomes you want.

Image credit: Anastasia Shuraeva; Pexels; Thanks!

Timothy carter

Revenue Director

Timothy Carter is the chief revenue officer for the Seattle digital marketing agency. SEO.co, DEV.co AND PPC.co. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO and digital marketing leading, developing and expanding sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive the growth of websites and sales teams. When he’s not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach, preferably in Hawaii with a cup of Kona coffee. Follow him on Twitter @TimothyCarter


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