Learning resources in physical and virtual form

Learning resources of physical and printed types have a long history in public education. Printed posters, hanging in a classroom and helping to memorize the names of famous scientists and the most important laws of nature, portraits of writers and descriptions of their works. School laboratories and scientific devices, of which the Soviet tradition of public education made use a lot: chemical laboratories in which students could commit simple experiments, devices that demonstrate the laws of physics, like the electrophoric machine, the pendulum, springs and magnets. Using these learning aids, teachers could impart knowledge to the students more effectively and comprehensively.

But modern students may ask: “Why doesn’t my learning plan include more modern technologies”? Current computers are capable of many things that are useful in school: not only keeping textbooks in electronic form, but also demonstrating diagrams, pictures and videos. Video recordings of educational experiments too dangerous to be performed in every school – such as experimentation with liquid oxygen or high voltage discharges – can be easily found online and used in chemistry or physics lessons with great success. History lessons can be made much more effective if electronic video recordings of great events such as battles, or reenactments thereof, are shown to students. Schoolchildren are not particularly known for long attention spans, and educational video recordings are more likely to catch their attention if they are flashy, loud and captivating. Another, less flashy side of using modern technologies in school is the usage of infographics, which is a very comprehensive method for imparting theoretical knowledge to school students.

Using computers for cooperative learning is also a promising part of modern instructional technology. Schoolchildren working together on networked computers can organize themselves in groups and complete educational activities on many subjects, such as history or geography. Computer-aided cooperative learning can also be combined with educational roleplaying. Take, for example, medieval history: an educational program may let every student assume the role of a historical character from a medieval feudal state, make decisions and take actions that affect other students (also playing the roles of historical characters) and understand the causes and effects of historical events better.

Understanding the taught disciplines well, not just learning by rote, is what’s needed to learn for good and leave school with a complete, useful set of knowledge. Computer technology is very useful in this, but can we say that a school outfitted with only virtual learning resources is the best, the most modern? This is a very controversial question, but some studies show that a well-rounded, multi-faceted set of learning resources, containing textbooks (printed or electronic), tangible physical educational aids and educational software in its most modern form is the most effective in not just imparting knowledge but also augmenting the students’ ability to comprehend and understand. The best modern schools use a wide selection of learning tools, both the newest and those tested with time.