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What Will Technology Do to Classrooms?

Society changes in direct and rapid response to the evolution of technology in general and the internet in particular. We launch an occasional series of blog articles about health, education, transport, entertainment, defence, sport, finance and policing, all areas under exponential change pressure through technology.

The Education System

In December 2011 we published an MBF blog about the fact that schools are teaching ICT (Computer Education in Schools Needs Upgrading) but not proper computer science, and so we asked where are the developers of the future coming from? It was argued there should be a ‘new focus on maths, sciences, technology, art and engineering’.

That being said, schools have generally embraced the technological/digital revolution with open arms. The number of teenagers who are better equipped and informed technically than their teachers is high, but where resources allow, teachers do welcome and harness every tool available.

New teaching uses for smartphones are a given, though often their use is at odds with basic classroom discipline. Teaching through digital games and simulations is an exciting technique, much exploited by the adventurous educator. Online facilities help the slower learner and those to whom English is not their first language immensely, allowing own-pace learning in a way not possible in a normal classroom.

Increasingly, virtual field trips are taking the cost, administration and hassle out of the real things, though many regret the passing of opportunities to physically visit other places, other climates and try new things.

The integration of devices is rushing on apace in the bigger centres, much as it is in the domestic and commercial markets. School and inter-school networks are enabling sharing on a scale before unseen.

Disruptive Innovation?

All sounds fine, so what’s the problem? Well, in many cases, staff and some parents still see educational technology as ‘disruptive innovation’.

Everybody went to school years ago; everybody is an educational expert, and as many of the old-fashioned values in discipline/respect for authority/uniforms come back into vogue, not all parents are persuaded their children’s schools should be beacons of technological/innovation and excellence.

But if they’re not, how are their children to get on in the jobs reduction digital future?

Sustaining educational technology is much the same problem as is evident within the NHS. The latest gadgetry is expensive to buy, maintain and staff, is quickly obsolete and is subject to much vandalism and theft – all of which has to be factored into school budgets.

The point is that if education is a national priority in spending/investing, fair enough. But what else in the national budget should be less of a priority to fund educational technology so we can at least keep up with our international rivals?

Further Reading:

1. As the UK schools’ rebuilding programme is slashed, now could be the right time to wonder about tomorrow’s education in custom-made structures.
Schools of Future May Not Be Actual Buildings At All

2. As higher education costs rocket, technology advances apace, everybody could soon get a degree online from home. But it would mean a major cultural shift.
Universities of Tomorrow May Be Entirely In Cyberspace

Photo: Marlith