THE BLOG

The Connected Classroom: Why Technology Will Drive Innovation in UK Schools

13/11/2014 12:10 GMT | Updated 12/01/2015 10:59 GMT

The adoption of technology into our everyday environment can do more than just transform our way of living - it also has the potential to enhance and innovate the way our children are taught in classrooms.

Already, a few British schools have begun to experiment with the concept of a "connected classroom." Recently, my son's school entered into a partnership with Samsung to provide an integrated IT system which is supported by Google Apps for Education. All pupils from Year 3-8 are provided with a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, which comes with the S Pen to ensure children's handwriting skills are not ignored for the sake of touch screens, and students can use the device at both school and home. Google's Apps for Education enables students and teachers to share information and collaborate in a way that is seamless and safe.

With this robust system in place, my son will find it very difficult to think of excuses to miss his homework and the fact that all the timetables and task lists are available in a secure private Cloud network is teaching the children to take more responsibility for their own time management.

More British schools need to be emulating the partnership my son's school has established with technology companies to make its classrooms and lessons more interactive and collaborative through digital platforms. This is the natural evolution of the modern classroom for a number of reasons. More than any other previous generation, millennials and Generation Z have been shaped by technology with the average UK teenager owning more than six digital devices. With technology being such a salient part of young people's lives, schools have the opportunity to develop a learning environment which caters to how children consume information and provide consistency in learning between the two environments that children mostly spend their time in - home and school. Moreover, tablets, emails and cloud-based networks have become ubiquitous in the modern workplace. Therefore, classes that incorporate and actively promote the use of this technology to children from a young age will equip them with the necessary skills to excel when they eventually join the workforce.

Young minds have an innate curiosity that drives them to discover and actually learn. This is significantly enhanced in an environment built around technology. A question or a random thought leads to exploration in real time which continually fuels their thirst for knowledge.

However, the technology is not only beneficial in the classroom and can be used on the playing field. Now sports teachers are, for example, able to film and analyse a bowling technique in cricket and make adjustments. In football, pupils can also see how the opposing team is carving open their defense as they have access to the same technology that is used on Sky Sports by the pundits.

It's not just the children that benefit from the technology. It also enables teachers to be more collaborative in how they teach children and structure classes as well as providing a platform for parents to be more active in their children's educational development. At my son's school, both teachers and students have access to a cloud-based system where they can both digitally communicate, access school information and teachers can supervise students and provide any support via this network. Through a secure login, parents can also access the cloud to observe and participate in their children's learning experience.

Despite the clear benefits and massive potential the "connected classroom" provides for children, teachers and parents, many British schools have made only lackluster or incremental advancements in this area. A few British prep schools provide iPads to students and allow them to use devices from home for educational purposes. However, this is far behind the comprehensive IT infrastructure that my son's school developed alongside Samsung and Google. The Connected classroom is more than simply allowing the use of devices - it is about facilitating a teaching environment where technology is used as an integral learning tool in every aspect of children's development at school and at home.

Technology has fundamentally changed and innovated many aspects of society - from the workforce to our home lives. Yet technology should not only be about providing us with innovative ways to work and live but also to ensure our future is brighter and our future is our children. Bringing academia and technology together will give children an educational experience that is interactive, collaborative and innovative. Our children deserve nothing less.