THE BLOG

The Education Age

21/02/2017 16:40

Today, the average three or four-year-old is proficient in using technology. They can navigate around intuitive phones and tablets leaving the most tech-savvy parents bemused. As a means of protection, we often try to discourage this usage and minimise screen time. We hark back to the days of climbing trees and rolling down hills, and rightly so. However, as much as we try to shield our mobile natives - Gen Z and Gen Alpha - from technology, the fact is, they are submerged in it, and contrary to popular belief, it's not all bad.

Let's face it, the next generation are being born with computers in hand. Everything from their thermometers to their passports are digital and so it should be. It's the way that the world is turning and there is tremendous benefit to be gained from this.

One place where technology is making a positive impact for both children and guardians is in schools. Education has long been run on archaic methods but this is slowly changing to reflect today's children in today's connected society.

New generations are experiencing technology for the first time outside of school - it's used for socialising or entertainment so why not embrace it in an environment that has been developed to teach and hone understanding.

As technology becomes an intrinsic part of our everyday lives what are the benefits to introducing it into the classroom? And how can we best implement and manage the technology and its users?

Making Learning Dynamic

Technology is without doubt a disruptive force in schools. The ability of interactive whiteboards, tablets, wearable devices and video sharing facilities to deliver engaging and exciting new ways to teach and learn cannot be underestimated.

At last month's Bett Conference the technology on display was worlds apart from the traditional classroom. The four -day conference showcased everything from robots that teach children how to ski on school trips, drones that are used for after school drone clubs to AR which has enabled students at an Ohio university to dissect bones and organs and view veins in detail.

IT in schools can also enable parents to gain a better understanding of their child's performance - whether that's viewing and tracking performance online, or using video webinar resources to view and understand more about the curriculum and the topics they explore. Greater use of technology can help parents be part of the learning process too. Increasing productivity through the use of digital. For example, it can enable homework to be sent home instantly via an online portal or email. Increasing efficiency and maximising output.

Beyond changing the interaction between teacher and parent, more importantly, is the impact on the relationship between teacher and student. Today teachers are having to think of evermore imaginative ways to captivate their young audience and technology could be the answer. A connected classroom could provide the ability to personalise lessons for children regardless of their abilities and provide a more interactive learning environment which could equally ease teacher workloads. Many virtualised learning now, enable students to dynamically access information and collaborate interactively with teaching staff - saving students and teachers time and governments money.

Lingering Doubt

Despite the rapid rate of growth and investment in education technology - our recent research into 'Digital Dexterity', for example, found that over half of office workers feel that schools are currently providing students with the digital skills they need - doubt still lingers around the digitisation of our classrooms. How far is technology a worthwhile investment in a sector that's already facing serious funding challenges, and are we really using it to its full potential?

To gain some insight into this issue, 1,000 A-Level students were questioned last year about their attitudes towards technology at school. The results were revelatory, with 73% of the teenagers saying they felt frustrated at the inability of their teachers to use the technologies available to them effectively. The knock-on effects of this are serious; lack of concentration, impaired learning and reduced engagement to name but a few.

Implementing technology schemes is all about engaging with teachers first, to deliver tailored solutions fit for their needs. The right technology partner - one that understands how to harness IT to improve education, manage change effectively, and develop the skills of those using the technology - will help schools feel the benefits of these new ways of teaching.

Further education on technology must become stronger so graduates and school leavers are ready for the future that lies ahead of them. Let's awaken teaching to the opportunities enhanced use of technology presents, and develop an education system that can flourish in this new age. As a nation, we must work together to inspire more young people to learn digital skills before entering the workplace.

If I were you I'd look forward to a future where textbooks are replaced by software on a connected university campus, and you out away your devices for tree climbing at the weekends.

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