If you’ve ever witnessed a young child trying to control your television as if it had a touchscreen, you’ll have noticed that technology is changing the world. Rapid innovation in technology demands a different outlook on education – an outlook that reflects the need to transform our schools in exciting new ways.
So, with this in mind, we ask: which technologies are schools currently using and how could we, as advocates, see classrooms changing in the future?
The most significant changes to our education system are only going to apply where teachers are ready to embrace them and are provided with the tools and knowledge to pass these innovations directly on to children.
Just a few decades ago, when many teachers were in school themselves, there simply weren’t computers in regular use, and their use as teaching tools was limited. This is no longer the case, with even the ordinary blackboard being updated beyond its dry-wipe whiteboard days to sophisticated and internet-ready Smartboards that drive interactive experiences in the classrooms of today.
If teachers aren’t being taught this technology themselves, they’re unlikely to be providing the most advanced level of education to their students. A crucial element of creating the ideal classroom of tomorrow is to ensure that teachers embrace this technology. In doing so, they can utilise the latest tools, which in turn allows them to provide the highest standards of education possible.
Interaction And Devices
A great learning experience is often produced through interaction between the teacher and their pupils. We are noticing the increasing use of tablets and smart devices in classrooms, and their use for interactive learning experiences is only likely to grow as they become the computer of choice for large numbers of both schools and users.
It is highly likely that the classroom of the future will embrace mobile technology by ensuring that each desk has a selection of inputs that allow students to interact with each other or their teachers, to study materials and even to conduct research from the classroom. Over time, we are also likely to see an increase in vocal recording equipment or further still, the use of mind-reading technology to produce classwork.
The way teachers share, observe and mark homework is also undergoing a revolution currently and this trend is unlikely to stop any time soon. We now see multiple examples of:
- Tablet- and app-driven work
- Online homework and virtual submissions
- Group discussions and collaborative work taking place online
- E-readers to store thousands of books and track how much of the assigned reading a pupil has completed.
As time goes by, we anticipate that homework will be driven through trackable online systems to ensure children are carrying out the necessary work to obtain the best results.
Many of the high-tech solutions we can imagine are already being worked on or implemented, so it’ll be fascinating to observe the ideas that edtech companies develop in the future.
We believe that the increase in uptake is primarily due to the expansion of superfast broadband networks. This, in turn, has provided cheaper connections, so that the majority of households in the UK now have access to an internet connection and a computer that is a viable learning platform.
What About The Distant Future?
We know what you’re thinking right now: this is all well and good, but it’s just a short jump into the future. What about a slightly longer leap in time?
Early signs suggest that two trends are going to dominate the distant future of education. One is remote learning, and the other is the use of holograms or virtual reality.
While there are likely to be studies about how unhealthy it would be to stay at home and learn using these technologies, it is far more likely that parents not being able to work from home is actually going to block the demand for change here. Although attitudes are slowly adapting, it is unlikely that we will see homeschooling become the norm in the near future.
The wider availability and growing speeds of internet connectivity are likely to increase the rate of innovation in edtech. However, it is also possible that some employers will be uncomfortable with providing remote working options for their employees. The knock-on effect would be that children will need a place to go to study, so there is little pressure to change the entire system at this time. With the lack of appetite for this change, there is also likely to be less eagerness to invest in the technology that would deliver the best results to our students.
Unless significant investment comes in, the learning technology we have today may not push on from where we are currently for another ten, twenty or even thirty years.
If other industries take the investment away from edtech, we may find that some of the ideas that we are so close to implementing may, in fact, be decades away from becoming part of our education system.