– George Couros
With leaps in technology and rapid globalization, our society is evolving at a tremendous pace. The frontiers of education are no exception to this change. Having been absorbed into everyday learning, technology allows us to innovate and personalize. We can now learn collaboratively, design creative curriculums, and engage with both students and faculty across the globe. Unlike the traditional model, this trend allows teachers and students to move beyond their respective roles and re-imagine themselves in novel ways.
Owing to digital aids, students are now as much the creators of knowledge as the consumers of it. These aids not only allow us to control the ways in which we learn but also express ourselves. For instance, teachers can use videos to help students grasp complicated concepts, in the same way, that students can use spreadsheets, presentations, and audio clips to help express ideas that are difficult to write down. This means more mobility both inside and outside the classroom. By ‘showing’, not ‘telling’, students can engage with their own classmates just as successfully as with admissions officers, teachers, and other students who live miles away from them. Physical distance is now no longer a barrier and communication, just as effective.
Digital tools enable us to enact those skills, ideas, and interests that we may otherwise have trouble expressing in words. For instance, many students deliver excellent speeches on video but are unable to translate that passion into academic writing. Digital interviews, SOPs, and video submissions also make room for our body language, expressions, and gestures. Together, the non-verbal signs do a better job of conveying our enthusiasm toward pursuing a course, a discipline, or an institution. An application without these elements is essentially faceless. Viewers, therefore, are unable to grasp those aspects of our personality that lie beyond our grades and achievements. Digital aids help us convince admissions officers that we are a good bet. Moreover, it also helps them gather a holistic understanding of us as applicants, with respect to both academic and non-academic capabilities.
Apart from giving us access to a greater number of application portals, technology also streamlines our experience from the point of selecting an institute until they finally select us. For instance, it helps set us deadlines, schedule reminders, track our application, and organize our creativity. From an institutional perspective, digital elements in an application facilitate quality control. It enables reviewers to assess the student holistically, piece together their character using different mediums, monitor consistencies across their statements, and observe their presentation skills. For instance, faculty can use a student’s video submission to check if they really do have the verbal skills they claimed to have, in their SOP. In another instance, the teacher may grasp that a student is confident and bold from their video, even if it is not mentioned in their written submission. Students too, therefore, find solace in knowing that their application is well-rounded and therefore, more likely to make a profound impact.
What’s interesting about using digital tools in the application process is how quickly it switches from intimidating to empowering. Appearing for a digital interview or submitting an unscripted recording may seem daunting at first, but the truth remains that its benefits far outweigh your fears. The ultimate objective is to ensure that each individual reviewing your application gains an unbiased insight into your unique identity. In the absence of a real conversation with your reviewer, remember your application is your dialogue. Deliver it well.