Hello! I must apologise for the absolute silence on this blog,, things have been hugely busy both for me personally and here at Zobotics.
However, I am now back in my blogging chair! I saw an interesting article today and thought it would be a good time and subject to start blogging with again.
The Education Secretary Daniel Hinds has called for the the tech industry to help revolutionise Edtech in schools. In order to do so he is planning on launching an online learning platform along with roadshows for schools with the help of the DofE and Edtech companies.
Its a welcome suggestion, many Teachers and Educators – myself included – have been making similar suggestions and working on similar projects for several years now.
The UK Edtech space is filled with some great companies whose products are really worth buying, but also, sadly, some really terrible solutions that schools waste their money on time and again….sigh….
We love the fact that Hinds has suggested online learning as a solution, in fact it feels as though our online courses have just had a massive stamp of approval.
Online learning and resources work well for teachers because they are so busy and under a lot of pressure to teach new content.
So its a good idea, we like it.
BUT so was the idea to make the move from ICT to Computing… and look at the mess that made! If I’m correct, I believe that the practical element of the GCSE is now only 20%.
20% practical work in a computing GCSE??? Only the UK Government with its current dreary schooling system can make such a fun, hands on subject so dire and unattractive…holds head in hands…
There is no lack of good ideas for reforming edtech.
What is lacking however, is the ability to listen to the right people and have the correct people involved -teachers for example and may be even the children themselves!! Speak to people who possess the correct knowledge and experience and understanding of education to ensure that the solutions and resources presented to schools are worth their time, energy and funding.
However, there is a fundamental flaw here that until addressed, will mean that the success of using technology in education will always be limited.
The current classroom and style of teaching used in the majority of schools is not compatible with Edtech.
Current teaching practices are too inflexible and exam focused. Schools are far too focussed on teaching where they should be focused on students’ learning.
Schools are far too focussed on exam results when they should be focused on the development of each and every individual child.
What exactly is the problem with teaching?
The role of a teacher is not to stand at the front of a classroom and divulge meaningless facts to students.
Divulging meaningless facts with snazzy augmented reality glasses can not hide the implications of this problem.
Yes it might mean that students appear to be engaged for a few minutes longer, but as we all know, even the shiniest and most expensive toys can lose their appeal if the child sees no benefit or enjoyment from the product.
What is the point of jazzing up a flawed education environment and burying the problems under expensive software and hardware solutions?
What is needed, before an edtech revolution, is an understanding of what exactly the role of the teacher is, what a classroom should and should not be, and, most importantly, putting education back into the hands of its rightful owners – the children or the receivers of that education.
What then is the role of a teacher?
It is a very simple notion, a teacher should be a guide and facilitator of a child’s learning. There to provide support and guidance – but only when it is definitely needed and requested.
Far too often adults are interrupting a child’s learning by enforcing a specific curriculum, shutting down creativity and stopping any kind of individual thinking and reasoning. Some teachers are far too helpful, so children never make mistakes and thus their learning is hindered. Some teachers are far too strict, “Stop talking and listen now!” and thus ends a beautiful discussion about the topic at hand. I have seen things like this all too often.
This is not the fault of the teachers, but rather an unavoidable result of the way ‘learning’ is currently done, it is far too controlled and structured. Children need the opposite – freedom and the ability to create their own structures, the space to make their own mistakes and experience adventures in their pursuits.
What then, is the role of a classroom?
Simply a space where children come and go as they please, a space that has the resources they require to learn the things that are important or interesting to them.
Yes, this requires trust, trust that the children will show up and put the work in. But evidence shows that children are keen learners from birth, what they are not keen on is being forced to stay in a building for 6 hours a day with little to no contact with their families.
Make schools places of learning, give children the freedom to learn and these prison like buildings will become the busiest, happiest spaces in the community.
The edtech problem will no longer be a problem.
Children will find the technology they need to help with them with their learning and pursuits, teachers will have more free time to learn and keep up with technology and the pressure to be an expert on every subject will no longer exist.
This will sound radical to some people reading this, and to some it will sound like good old common sense. Whatever your opinion, feel free to comment or get in touch with your thoughts.
It is time to start these discussions.