Reimagining Communication in Education
I attended a Microsoft event recently where I gave a talk on reimagining communication in education. It is an interesting topic that will no doubt divide opinion and I can’t say that I am 100% comfortable with all of the concepts, but change happens regardless of personal feelings. Schools, Colleges and Universities are becoming more business-like than ever before. Students should be viewed as clients and all the services, learning construct and back office process need to understand and adapt. Learning and Education organisations need to realise that these changes will have a radical impact on the way they work and that they will need to move fast, far faster than the commercial sector is. We already know that commercial is in general already lagging behind the next generation. As education has traditionally moved more slowly than the commercial sector, it is fair to say that they too are already well behind the curve and in some cases this could prove to be the start of a long, steep downward slope to ‘Problemsville’. Students and parents are looking at the establishments available to them and taking the time to evaluate how technologically advanced they are. For Higher Education, this becomes even more important as some students are looking at the technology infrastructure and services to help decide whether they should attend a particular University over that of another. Preventing the use of BYOD, unstable and sluggish infrastructures, or simply lagging behind on old technology will reflect poorly on the establishment in question. Students are now having to fund most of their higher education themselves and they are getting choosy about what they expect for their money. Rightly so! But it goes way deeper than this, the ways of learning are changing, targets have been set by E-TAG and FEL-TAG for online learning. Students will gradually need less and less time locked in lectures in large numbers to absorb information. These learning establishments will become the place that students go to clarify things, carry out physical experiments and build social relationships. Students will attend lectures in a mixture of streamed information, video lectures and physical interaction and simulated learning will become more pronounced. The lower Key Stages will need to spend more time learning about technology by a change in the attitude towards tech in schools. Uruguay has a government programme to deliver 1 tablet per child but the UK doesn’t. What will the long term impact of that be, well I expect it will result in a generation of children who are totally comfortable in tech, who don’t have to consciously learn how to use it. Whilst the UK is storming ahead on IT services in education there is a large chunk missing at the user point of contact. These things need to become ‘the norm’ and not considered a special set of devices stored away in a locked cupboard. Collaboration will also change the way teachers integrate with not only each other, but with parents, students and other establishments but there will always remain a need for physical hands on learning. Student / Teacher ratios and the need for teaching assistants will both increase in conjunction, and in proportion with each other. As geographical boundaries become less important over the coming years the prevalence of ‘Collaborative Teaching’ will rise and global lessons and interschool interactions increase. The Open University have been delivering learning in this manner for decades. Who recalls the ability to record TV lectures at 4am for playback later? This global, advanced education structure will allow education establishments to select students from anywhere in the world and this strategy/ movement has already started within some establishments in the UK. I have a feeling that the education space is in danger of not being prepared for these changes. The consequences will be significant and there will be a period of confusion as things develop but one thing is for sure, continuing to teach and educate our future generation as we always have done is certainly not an option.