THE BLOG

Connecting to the Future, One School at a Time

24/04/2014 12:23 BST | Updated 23/06/2014 10:59 BST

The world of the future will be here faster than we think. In fact, we're already getting a taste of it here and there: a hologram at Coachella, virtual reality simulation with Oculus Rift, 3D printing stores in the centre of London.

But while we're only getting to see these innovations as novelties, soon they will be part of our daily lives, as well as of our workplaces. So how do we prepare the next generation for a future with technology that we ourselves don't yet fully understand?

And the answer is - at school. Yes, it's true that we don't have all of these innovations readily available in classrooms, but it doesn't mean that getting ready for the future is just a matter of wait-and-see. Preparing for tomorrow isn't about knowing everything that is going to happen - it's about developing the skills that will help the next generation easily adapt to whatever will come their way.

The first step to teaching our kids the adaptability, agility and imagination to thrive in a rapidly changing world is ensuring that schools have digital at the heart of how and what they teach.

But first of all, we need to lay down the groundwork for this goal. The first requirement for digital-friendly schools is high-speed, reliable connectivity - the very basic resource necessary to access online learning. The second is ensuring that children are safe when working online: just as we would never let them go into a dangerous area in a city, there are parts of the internet that we would never want our children to visit. Finally, we need to provide access to quality, and up-to-date, online learning materials where and when they are needed - and through them, encourage our children's enthusiasm to engage with innovation.

This adaptability is becoming increasingly critical in the workplace - and in all parts of life - so we have a responsibility to help our children develop it while they're in education. What we know about jobs today will soon become as outdated as the fax machine - since 65% of today's primary school children will end up in jobs that haven't yet been invented. We may no longer be able to pass on specific professional knowledge, and we can't yet teach them to use holograms - but thanks to high-quality IT, we can stimulate the curiosity and high-achieving attitude that will help them thrive.

That's why London Grid for Learning's initiative to improve students' IT experience across the Capital has been such a great success - it has been widely adopted by schools across the capital, and helped them save over £100 million. Because we want to enhance children's education provision and support innovation, Virgin Media Business has just signed a deal to take this programme to schools across the UK. This new initiative is called TRUSTnet and will provide access to high-speed broadband, improved security and tailored educational content for all schools across the UK.

We often underestimate the importance of small day-to-day steps: from learning basic Excel and PowerPoint to mastering more sophisticated design, language and computing tools. Being comfortable with all of these programmes is what will help the next generation easily transition to working alongside robots, conferencing via holograms and testing out new projects through virtual reality... Change, no matter how exciting, is gradual, and needs the right conditions to become integrated in our lives - starting by providing the best possible IT technology to schools. We need to begin connecting to the future, one school at a time.