The educational journey never ends. Whole life learning is a reality now greatly supported by the internet. Access to knowledge, once the significant domain of libraries is now online at the touch of button. With smartphones and the latest tablets the technology in classroom teaching resources,which provides information in just a few seconds could leave some teachers behind.
Following this augment begs the question why do we need conventional schooling? Should our teaching resources be completely reconfigured to utilise the internet in a more substantive manner. Despite information being on tap, thanks to modern technology, students aren’t achieving the same paradigm shift in their learning achievement. It seems teachers, having been subjected to countless educational initiatives, and honed to produce targeted exam results rather than depth of education. This myopic approach leaves both teachers and students frustrated. The fun of learning, experimentation and breadth of knowledge lost in the clamour of meeting deadlines and targets.
The debate over whether a child’s learning capacity is nature or nurture becomes clouded. Ask any teacher if they would prefer greater freedom in the curriculum and the answer is a resounding positive. The rote approach breeds restricted learning in turn leading to frustration, apathy and shallow foundation in the application of leaning. To light the fire in a child’s development needs an enjoyable and fun format for both teacher and student; the question “what if” becomes a common preface to discussions in the classroom.
The substantial leaps made in the technological world can dramatically change the way we learn. Tablet computers and smartphones introduced into the classroom suffer the same fate as their commercial application. The rate of change known as Moore’s law which predicts that computer power doubles every two years can overwhelm both the consumer and educational markets. Nokia, once the world’s leader in mobile phones were caught out by Apple with their iPhone, and who in turn have been caught by Samsung. Technology is evolving by the month provides a great sales opportunity combined with huge risks.
As key players juggle for market position there is a hidden impact on schools. As competitive forces drive the retail price down and the performance up; at what point should a school purchase new computers, and in what format. Normally amortising the purchase costs over five years holds some degree of false accounting as the worth of the equipment can now be devalued overnight. Perhaps the greater educationalist’s concern is the relevance of the equipment in terms of what can be taught versus the reception of students whose wishing to be in vogue find last year’s model iPad anathema to effective learning.
Pity the poor teacher attempting a lesson plan using techniques the students have already superseded with their later model. The pedagogy may hold firm but the delivery will lose impact. The very nature of schooling could be caught out. How do we provide an effective education to future generations of children whose technical ability may well surpass the capability of their teacher? And how do we make this development socially fair and not only open to those who can afford the technology?