The digital revolution and what it means for education.
Digitally enabled or enhanced education is happening all around us:
- Yesterday morning I made sure that my skype line was open and available, for the pupils of a local secondary school to talk to me on skype from their classroom about their community projects that I had been helping them with. As I had access to the part of the schools VLE, I could look at their work as I talked to them.
- At home that evening I heard my daughter in a one to one maths tuition session through Facebook that she had instigated because she felt that she needed some help on some maths issues she was struggling with. This is part of the normal provision of the sixth form college she attends.
- A while ago I was working with a group of year 3’s, their teachers and parents on a full simulation of an archaeological dig out in the school playing fields using smartphones. These pupils and their mums or dads were using a metal detector, a geofiz device to detect buildings underneath the ground, and a digging device to dig up parts of what turned out to be a roman building. Having detected the building they were then able to reconstruct it and have a virtual walk through it. A number of the children who were involved in this told the teacher that it had been the best day of their lives.
- Through Digital Education Brighton two local secondary schools are engaged in a digital exchange with Cherokee Nation schools in Oklahoma using ipads in exploring their respective cultures, art forms and languages.
- A while back I visited a junior school in Yately, Westfields Junior School that are doing some great things with technology including the establishment of a radio station that is wholly managed by the pupils.
- Around the country growing numbers of school children are enhancing their communication and writing skills by blogging with other schools and pupils around the world.
The list goes on, and there are more and more examples around the country, indeed around the world of digital technology enhancing learning, making it more accessible, more interesting more fun, more effective.
But this of itself is not revolutionary. It is seeking out new ways of making learning fun and interesting as the best teachers have done through the ages, using different tools, but not revolutionary as such.
The real revolution will be when we get rid of the institution of schools as we know them because they will not be necessary any more, never mind not affordable.
With digital technology where you can access learning materials online, get automatic feedback, engage in games and simulations, communicate in real time with experts around the world, collaborate on Facebook with peers, etc. – all of which, particularly with the proliferation of mobile technology, can be undertaken from anywhere – we don’t actually need to herd our children into institutions called schools at 9.00 am every morning during term time.
Whereas, in the old or current model of education 1 teacher tries to teach 30 people the same things at the same time which is why they need to be in one place, in the new model 30 people can be learning 30 different things at the same time, and don’t need to be in one place.
This changes everything in respect of time and place.
The other revolutionary change is what is called personalisation. This is a term that tends to be bandied around by politicians who don’t quite know what it means. What I mean by personalisation is the ability for every person to follow their own individual learning journey, fuelled by their personal preferences, instincts and talents, rather than the very narrow strictures of this or that curriculum – each individual finding their element, as Sir Ken Robinson would have it.
This is revolutionary because it has never happened, in the whole history of education it has not been possible, but now it is, and digital technology is the catalyst for that change.
Mick Landmann, MD Vivid Interactive
Imagine a world where education fits the pupils, rather than the pupils learning to fit into the system. Sounds simple, doesn’t it.
Well, that’s ‘personalisation’ in a nutshell.
The Plowden Report of 1967 says that:
“The school sets out….to devise the right environment for children to allow them to be themselves and to develop in the way and at a pace appropriate to them…”
Yet the practicalities of a teacher led classroom based education has not been able to deliver on ideals. More »