Have you ever thought about it: we live in a time of impressive technological advancements, yet we still allow such a trivial thing as the weather to cause disruption to our everyday lives. Last week thousands of pupils throughout the country missed out on their lessons - ice and snow caused chaos on the roads, teachers and pupils couldn't get to schools, parents didn't know what to do with their unsupervised children.
I find this situation frustrating, especially given that we have technology, ready and waiting, which could prevent such things from happening. I'm talking about video conferencing - something that has the potential to dramatically enhance learning experience, minimise disruption to the educational process and ultimately improve educational standards in our country.
Only a handful of schools have so far explored this option, as there are a number of obstacles that slow down the adoption of the technology. First and foremost, people like to stick with the familiar, so potential changes to the processes which have been in place for centuries are naturally met with a fair bit of resistance. Of course we can't deny the fact that not everyone is technology savvy, but this shouldn't hold us back - those who struggle to use video calling should simply receive appropriate training.
Secondly, the perceived costs of equipment. While in the early years of video conferencing it indeed required investing in expensive hardware solutions, recent developments in cloud computing have changed the way we communicate, meaning that anyone with Internet access can now join a video conference from any device and location. This means lessons can be conducted by teachers remotely, and children can attend classes from home (on their computer), no matter the weather conditions.
Of course, using video conferencing at schools on snow days is just one of many benefits the technology can offer. For instance, it can be a perfect solution for children who can't attend lessons in person due to a permanent or temporary disability. It could also help children from remote schools get access to better education, by enabling one teacher to conduct lessons across multiple schools, without the need to waste time travelling between different locations.
A good example of the latter are remote primary schools in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, already using video conferencing technology on a regular basis to receive music lessons. The 120 schools in the council are spread over an area of approximately 3,000 square kilometers, and by using video conferencing solutions the council managed to streamline teaching resources and create an international network. For example, pupils have been able to link with schools in Poland and the Caribbean and get a taste for how pupils learn in other countries and cultures!
I predict that in ten years' time remote learning will become the norm, and school closures due to weather conditions will become a thing of the past. In the meantime, we can either let technological progress drive us forward, or keep calm and carry on checking weather forecasts.
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