Technology Is Changing Education, All Over The World

Rebecca Winthrop and Allison Anderson of the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution present an interesting vision of how technology will change education all over the world:

“Schools will be only one venue for learning in the future. The role of schools in developing the skills and capacities of young people is changing. Technology has opened access to learning opportunities that were previously unattainable.

Girls in rural Pakistan can study by text message even if they cant leave their homes in insecure areas. Children in rural Ghana can access the worlds libraries through an e-reader even when they have no books in their school or house. The future of education will be less about bringing children to schools which has been a major focus in the first set of Millennium Development Goals [set by the United Nations] and more about bringing learning to children.

Teachers will do more coaching and guiding and less lecturing. Those in developed countries who are pushing the bounds of open educational resources argue that, in the future, young people should be doing their homework at school (where teachers and peers can problem solve together) and learning their lessons at home (via video or other means).

Two decades from now the lines between formal education and non-formal education could be so blurred that we may abandon the distinction all together and only discuss learning and equity in accessing quality learning opportunities.” (Read more here.)

I find Winthrop and Anderson’s vision intriguing, but I do take issue with their oversimplified idea of what happens when students are “learning their lessons.” The authors suggest that this apparently passive absorption of information could just as well be done at home by video, while the “real” learning that happens when students solve problems should happen at school.

Actually, teaching a lesson is, or should be, an active process of asking questions, checking for understanding, addressing misconceptions, pushing students another step forward. Why keep the lecture but simply move it on to video?

3 Responses to “Technology Is Changing Education, All Over The World”

  1. Hi Annie,

    Totally agree with you in that last paragraph, though I’m sure the authors vision is to look at barriers to education in less developed countries or areas (similar to ‘School of the Air’ in Australia).

    Personally, my issue with it would be the lack of social interaction for youngsters (where much of their learning takes place), and the lack of concern for the structures which schools put in place to develop the individuals away from the home. I work at a school in a deprived area in Manchester, UK, who have a superbly positive environment for the children to learn in; this is absolutely crucial in this area. Many of the children are from war-torn countries, single-parent homes or parents who are habitual drug users or criminals. Yet the school is a delight to work at. Why? The head teacher creates an environment of safety, fun, learning and rewards. If learning were reduced to sitting at a desk at home, this vital input into their development would be almost lost.

    That would be my concern, though again, I doubt its inner-city Manchester that these ideas are aimed at!

  2. Students will need a platform that aggregates their academic activities and accomplishments regardless of where the learning experience took place, in which program, and how formal or non formal the learning experience was. Digital resumes based upon gamification methodology will definitely be the norm.

  3. VE7CE says:

    With the advent of high speed Internet and programs like Skype it is possible to bring the classroom to the student, we are just not doing it widely enough. Virtual classrooms should be the norm, not the exception. The same is true for university lecture halls.

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