Archive for August, 2008
I believe that digital technology will transform the world of education beyond recognition in the coming years and decades. The question is what, when, how?
I have set this blog up to explore that, particularly with reference to primary and secondary education, with anyone who is interested.
What will 21st century education look like next year, in five years, in 10 years?
Given the pace of technological change over the last 25 years it would be a brave person who could answer that question with any degree of certainty. Yet it seems our government feel that they know enough to commit billions of pounds to the Building Schools for the Future initiative, (BSF – with the aim to rebuild or renew nearly every secondary school in England by 2016), assuming that not only the requirements of the physical nature of the buildings themselves but also the nature of any embedded technology are known quantities. Not surprisingly the initiative is controversial because actually no-one does really know with certainty how things are going to shake down over the next few years and onwards.
Around the country, indeed around the world, there are examples of innovative buildings which recognise that 21st century learning requires a great deal more fluidity of place than is the case in most of our current school buildings (Professor Stephen Heppell refers to some of these in an address to the RSA about the shape of education in 2016, a video of which is available from Teacher’s TV at http://www.teachers.tv/video/4957 ). Whilst I applaud those initiatives I would also preach caution that todays innovation may be out of date tomorrow. We are in the 21st century but are only just at the beginnings of recognising the true potential of ‘harness(ing) technology to let children go as far and as fast as they want’, to use Professor Stephen Heppell’s words, and identifying how best to achieve that.
Despite the talk of ‘personalisation’ (Tony Blair started using this term in 2004), and despite the talk of the ‘pupil voice’ we are actually not yet properly asking our pupils how they want to learn and even when we do ask we are not properly trusting their answers. When giving pupils their ‘voice’ there will be different views. One pupil may suggest that they want to play electronic games as part of their education, another that they want to play more sport, another that they want to get out more, do more dance, do more science, do fun things, be creative, be allowed to fly.
If we do want to take the ‘pupil centred’ approach seriously and if we do want to take the opportunity offered by digital technology to personalise learning, then we have to listen properly and not judgementally, give teachers the tools, knowledge and experience to properly facilitate new ways of doing things and establish appropriate learning environments, which will extend way beyond the classroom, as a result.
This is the 21st century, the digital era, with the exciting potential of setting young people free allowing them to properly explore their real potential.
Many teachers are sold on the idea that technology, digital media, has a massive part to play in this. But I, as they, return to the burning question, what, when, how? Pupils, parents, producers, publishers, let’s explore.