When you think about the advance of technology in society in the last decade, the progress has been phenomenal – just take a look at these examples to see how far we have come in such a short space of time. Now, think about education. Think about the technology in your school ten years ago – perhaps a computer suite with an unreliable bank of PC’s; CD-ROMs; discs; slow, irrelevant programs; staff scared of using IT; and so on.
OK, we concede, there are some schools where this is still the picture, but the future of Educational Technologies are a lot brighter, and here is why we think that the next ten years of tech will be staggering. Belt up, and prepare for the voyage…
- The Next Generation of Teachers – Teachers entering the profession now are more computer savvy, having grown up on a feast of innovation. The generation of teachers who ‘don’t do tech’ will become less predominant within the profession, so the fire-wall of using technology to support all curriculum subjects will start to wither away, allowing greater freedoms for using modern advances in tech.
- Portability – Remember having to book the ICT suite to allow students to use the computers? Yes, it is still evident in many schools, but with the developments in mobile technology the ICT room space will be better utilised. Tablet computers, in whatever form, allow the technology to be brought into the classrooms – or around the school – making the learning journey more portable with technology.
- The Speed of Innovation – Not only can technology support students in their learning, but it is also there to support teachers with their teaching. See our Google Glass article for example. Teachers need to keep updated, and if an innovation engages with them, it is likely to be engaging for their students. Keeping updated with these innovations is crucial.
- Relevance – Gimmicks will be out, and teachers will be the driving force in educational technology developments. In the last ten years, educators have had technology thrust upon them, whether they like it or not; whether it is relevant to them or not. Teachers are now the driving force in ed-tech ideas (see our ed-invent article) with developers now listening to their needs. As the younger generation of teachers work out how technical advances could be used for the teaching and learning process, their ideas for improvement and relevance will be acted on.
- Creativity – Yes, creativity is key, and with the advances of programming, computer science and coding currently in vogue, this will bring with it a new, unexpected era of creativity. These importantly essential skills encompass problem solving, computational thinking, and creativity. Many of the UK’s biggest emerging industries are within technology, and the creativity is evident by looking at the accolades which the movie ‘Gravity’ received at the Oscars – mainly thanks to the technological advances within the movie. Some of the best apps on various App Stores are created by UK tech companies – Look at the Tengami app, and many of the Disney apps are built within the UK technical sector. Such creativity is evident now.
- Reliability – Ooh, remember sending your pupils to the computer suite, only to be confronted by computers which take ten minutes to start up? Time wasted by having to re-boot computers. Again, this sadly is still evident in schools today, however as technology improves (supported by ongoing investment in schools), battery times improve, and apps become more relevant, this wasted time will disappear. Advances in wi-fi connections and internet speeds will also make researching on the internet less arduous.
- Connectivity – We can already see the foundations of connectivity evident with technology now, but this will advance further allowing teachers from all around the globe to connect with each other. Sharing ideas, resources and developing pedagogy will become second-nature. But nothing beats face-to-face contact which is why technology will continue to see people connect, sharing and developing ideas to help the teaching process. Schools will be crucial places for this face-to-face contact with people appreciating the value of such connections.
- Costs – The price of educational technology has been overly exuberant, to put it politely, as developers have jumped on the band-wagon, trying to make the most of governmental investment in technology. Leaders, teachers and students are now seeing through this, demanding costs come down to a more reasonable level and not being hood-winked into thinking they need technology because the marketers tell them. The shift of balance will once again fall onto the schools, which will drive down costs by shopping around more sensibly. Schools will reduce their costs by encouraging pupils to bring in their own devices into lessons, with less emphasis on the school providing tech. Leaders who ‘get tech’ will be at the forefront of innovation, with many who don’t expected to leave the profession within the next ten years.
- Simplicity – Everything is starting to become a lot easier: Easier to use; easier to connect; easier to move around with; easier to communicate; and so on. Simplicity will be at the heart of future ed-tech, which will benefit leaders, teachers and students alike.
- Acceptability – Back in the 1970’s we were told that children would be going to school on some kind of flying device, powered by safe nuclear energy at the turn of the century. Alas, the closest we got to that was the ‘Chelsea Tractor‘ crowding the road carrying their precious cargo. The point is, the change will be embraced by the education community, with little panic and imposition. We are not prophesising that schools will be unrecognisable to what we have today as technology will not replace all aspects of schooling. Key skills will remain essential, such as mathematical skills; handwriting skills; communication skills; thinking skills etc, but technology will be there to support this skill development – not replace that. Educationalists will recognise the potential technology has to offer in support these important skill essentials.
All in, this is not sensationalist, but shows how educational technology will shape the future of education in the next ten years. The prognostications made above show what a challenging, exciting and cutting edge place education can be, with teachers, students and schools at the forefront of creative innovation.