6 ways connectivity will transform the classroom
Technology is already changing classrooms in ways that few would have imagined even a decade ago. But we are still a long way from done; classrooms will evolve much further as technology develops.
The key to the future of education is access to the internet. Connectivity makes it possible to learn anywhere and for students to collaborate with others, locally and globally.
Schools of the future could be teaching local students or online-only students from around the country or indeed the world. Things are already starting to move this way with the emergence of massive open online courses (MOOCs).
Connectivity is increasing rapidly, especially in wealthier nations. In the United States the difference in school access to broadband over just two years is striking.
So as more schools around the world receive broadband internet connections, how will education be changed?
Look to the cloud
A key shift is towards the cloud.
So far, the use of technology in schools has often presented the potential for problems. How many times have students had to wait for software to load or the server to reboot? How often is the school burdened with outdated material?
The cloud removes many of these problems. Schools will not need local servers or even the latest educational software. Everything will be stored in the cloud. All they will need is a good broadband connection to access it.
Teachers can use the cloud to set, collect and mark work online. Students will have instant access to grades, comments and work via a computer, smartphone or tablet. Many schools are already doing this.
Beyond the iPad
The future is not about one particular device. We don’t know what we’ll be using in 5, 10 or 20 years. But each student will have their own device either provided by the school or brought from home.
Thanks to the cloud and these mobile devices, technology will be integrated into every part of school. It won’t just be the classrooms that will change. Games fields, gyms and school trips will all evolve too. Whether off-site or on-site the school, teachers, students and support staff will all be connected.
Students will be able to take their classrooms with them, thanks to online lessons and real-time student-to-teacher communication.
No more textbooks
According to education futurist Professor Neil Selwyn from Monash University, textbooks will no longer exist in the classroom within 10 years.
Instead, children will be learning on connected devices, 3D digital-books and interactive touch screen boards.
As more students gain access to fast broadband, schools will shift attention from outdated paper-based learning techniques to teaching the online learning skills needed for students to excel.
The ‘flipped learning’ classroom
Instead of passively consuming information from the teacher, technology in the classroom will help shape the structure of lessons and invite children to become independent learners.
Teachers say that the introduction of touch screens, tablets and interactive technology reduces the amount of teacher talk and ‘flips’ the traditional concept of learning.
Students can proactively find information and share it with the teacher and fellow students. Flipped learning redefines the way students understand and access information.
Of course this is already happening. Most students with internet access use it to facilitate learning.
Source: nbn™ Digital Parenting Report
The future of childhood learning will also incorporate virtual reality to offer a more immersive study experience to students, inviting them into a world they haven’t explored before.
Teachers may want to recreate a 3D rainforest or virtually transport their students to witness important historical events.
For visual-thinking students, the increasing use of 3D printing will change the way they absorb information by bringing almost anything to life.
Budding archaeologists could 3D print models of historical artefacts, engineers could print complex machine parts.
For teachers, 3D printing will mean lessons instantly become a new world for children to observe and explore.
In a sense the effect of connectivity will be to take the classroom beyond the school. Students will be able to learn anywhere and be able to access information from anywhere. Used well, connectivity can help develop more curious, independent-minded students and give them access to an unimaginable number of resources.
This will be a key topic at the Global Education and Skills Forum 2016, taking place in Dubai on 12th and 13th March 2016. For more take a look at the programme. Follow us on Twitter @GESForum and on Facebook.
Blog post by:
Digital Communications Manager, Varkey Foundation