By Claire Stead, Online Safety Ambassador at Smoothwall
The days of chalkboards and dusty textbooks in classrooms are long gone. Over the past two decades, technology has slowly crept into the classroom, changing the way students study and access information, and also opened up a whole new world of resources for teachers to utilise.
So what lies instore in the year ahead for schools? What are going to be the key players that advance the classroom and the way students learn in the year to come?
Robot teacher? Not quite.
Artificial Intelligence is a topic that is incredibly talked about at the moment, and is seemingly viewed as still quite a futuristic subject. However, it is used in everyday life a lot more than people realise. Some banks have rolled out smart, customer service robots to help customers deal with their problems online; Amazon Echo can control several smart devices using itself as a home automation hub.
When it comes to education, there is great scope for AI to help both pupils and staff. AI doesn't necessarily mean robots from the likes of iRobot or Human parading round the classroom. As classrooms become fuller and busier and the demand on teachers increases, digital teaching assistants in the form of tablets, for example, could help alleviate the issue. They would be able to answer questions pupils may have, offer real-time explanations for those answers and they may even be able to mark the children's work on behalf of the teacher.
The virtual classroom
Thanks to Pokemon Go over the summer, augmented reality has now made its way into being mainstream, being played by schoolchildren up and down the country, and setting a precedent for the future of gaming. Schools should look at using virtual and augmented reality as a means of keeping pupils interested and engaged as an addition to the more traditional learning tools that have seen success for years. Companies like Zappar for instance, are already tapping into this virtual reality space in education and there's certainly more fruit to be had from the tree.
Providing children with the opportunity to have truly immersive experiences where they can go back in history, travel the world and visualise products is truly remarkable. Getting hands-on with subject matter, all while improving their computing and communication skills, can help to foster a collaborative and engaging learning experience which I can really see taking off.
Collaborate to educate
Teachers and students today are learning more interactively than ever before. Thanks to the growth of social media, children are engaging digitally on a daily basis, and schools will need to keep up with this or risk being left behind. The solution to this is collaborative, cloud-based working. For instance, children could each be problem solving or answering brain teasers on their own portable devices, whilst being able to link up to each other's network to work collaboratively on the same screen.
Protecting a student's interests and data
Schools exist ultimately to facilitate learning and do so in a safe and protected environment. However, in this new digital world, from a security perspective, they should be protected, just as any business would. Almost on a daily basis we are reminded in the news of huge companies being hacked and data being stolen and manipulated. Much in the same way, we need to make sure schools are adequately protected using the latest in security technology and having a robust built-in network of safety measures.
Bringing the elements together
If schools were to bring these different technological elements together, it could transform the ways schools work with each other on a local and even international scale, by enabling students from different countries to work together on common assignments. Through using all the tools that businesses do - from collaboration, task management, and social messaging - this would teach students essential workplace skills as well as providing an education into how social networking can make a positive contribution and teach children how to use it for constructive means, rather than the negative association it currently has. The technology disruption is to enable more of the internet for student study and to monitor miscreant activities rather than simply block access. Technologies that can ensure social media posts are constructive and not used for defamatory purposes will help educate students into good online behaviour.
In the increasingly digital world we now live in, the younger generation - especially school pupils - will have grown up not knowing a world without the internet. As a result, they are the first generation of true digital natives; and it's often the case in schools that teachers are less digitally savvy than the children that they teach. Familiarising themselves with the latest technologies & trends will certainly help bridge the technological gap between teacher and pupil.