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Education and schools racing towards a much changed future

Education and schools racing towards a much changed future

It’s also time to pose another MBF Blog controversial issue and see what you, our readers, think. Especially if you are a parent or still in education yourself.

Now that the schools have broken up and teachers enjoy their deserved break (I speak as a former teacher!) it’s time to remember that education is never far away from the news spotlight.

The six week holiday may soon be consigned to history as the idea that kids only learn by being a long time in physical school gathers momentum.

We have public exam results to look forward to and then before you know it, the new school year is under way in September and we start properly counting down to Christmas. Hooray!

But first, let’s take a look at a couple of education issues at the technology-social interface.

Robotics Lessons to Come

The Government has just announced changes to the National Curriculum taught in all schools. You have to bear in mind that the Academies and Free Schools are able to set their own curriculum programmes regardless.

However, the view now is that in order to prepare more youngsters for future careers in engineering and business, they need to know about ‘cutting edge design equipment’, including:

  • 3D printers
  • laser cutters
  • robotics

Few can argue with that. With a potential shortfall of 100,000 science, technology, engineering and maths graduates every year just to keep up, we need these skills in young people.

Of course, we also need programmers, originators and problem solvers, blue sky/lateral/disruptive thinkers in huge loads. But some of what they do you can’t teach.

Heads in the Clouds

Not that long ago there was some hype about the idea of robot teachers in the classrooms. Well, it hasn’t gone away, just gone quiet.

And in the meantime as teachers struggle to come to terms with changing terms, pension shifts, ever bigger demands on them and ever higher expectations, now comes news that five schools in India and two in north east Britain are piloting lessons without physical teachers present.

Cloud schools provide children with internet links (Skype?) to communicate with ‘retired professionals’ who volunteer to share their expertise and experience. They are fondly nicknamed, ‘grannies.’

Sounds like sci-fi or another attack on the teaching profession. What about discipline? Emotional problems of students? The building of relationships in schools that broaden learning? Monitoring the volunteers to ensure they stay ‘appropriate’? Weeding out the loonies and perverts? Will they actually do it for free? What about practical subjects like sports and drama?

Yes, all sorts of problems.

However, the idea is from the brain of Professor Sugata Mitre (Newcastle University) who devised ‘hole in the wall’ computers for the slums of India, which inspired the movie, Slumdog Millionaire.

The professor’s view is that cloud teaching could revolutionise education, at least in remote areas of the world where ‘access to expertise is limited.’

What do you think?

Other homework:

Trying Not to Cloud the Current Live Issues of the Digital Era, 25 June 2013

Creative Arts On the Brain, Quite Literally, 18 June 2013

Starting Pistol on the Next Revolution Has Been Fired, 11 June 2013

Robots Googling Each Other Was Only a Matter of Time, 21 May 2013

The Cloud and The Crowd Could Save the Cyberworld from the Cyber Crime Blitz, 27 March 2013

Wanted: More British Inventors, Engineers and Designers As Everyone Can’t Be Web Entrepreneurs, 12 February 2013

Internet Safety for Children: Too Little Too Late? 9 July 2012

Schools Not Always in Front Line of Technology Teaching, 4 July 2012

Image: Gorkaazk