UKEdMag: Science Fiction or Science Fact? by @ICTEvangelist

Investing in technology - make sure the investment pays off

It’s true that the science fiction of our youth have informed much of science fact in today’s society; particularly when it comes to technology. There are lots of examples.

The genre of science fiction has many proponents. In popular culture today we see it in Marvel films, such as Iron Man, or Big Hero 6. These ideas come from literature and have been around for many years.

This is an extract from the April 2015 Edition of UKEdMagazine. You can order your printed version of the UKEdMagazine by Clicking here, or freely read the Online Version by Clicking here.

FeatureScienceFictionAdam Roberts writes in his 2005 book, ‘The History of Science Fiction’ (bit.ly/uked15apr01) about science fiction saying “the great majority of science fiction written in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is actually ‘extrapolated technology fiction’”. He goes on to say, “We find tools and machines at the core of most science fiction: such that spaceships, robots, time-machines and virtual technology (computers and virtual realities) are the four most commonly occurring tropes of the field.”

We can’t see spaceships and time-machines in our classrooms today (although we can create our own virtual time capsules using technology to facilitate virtually travelling back in time), but we are certainly seeing virtual technology, computers and realities alongside robots (such as the Sphero (bit.ly/uked15apr02) or 3D printers).

Whilst we’re talking about spaceships, certainly naming NASA’s first space shuttle ‘Enterprise’ was certainly more than just a hat-tip to the illustrious flag ship ‘Enterprise’ of Star Trek. Whilst we aren’t seeing spaceships in our schools there are definitely technologies in our schools that have been influenced by the classic science fiction series. Take the iPad for example. As Chris Foresman wrote in his article in 2010 (bit.ly/uked15apr03) ‘How Star Trek artists imagined the iPad 23 years ago’, the science fiction show had a massive influence upon iPad and iOS design. I know from my own personal experience that I remember seeing the PADD (Personal Access Display Devices) in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and thinking how amazing and futuristic it was. Never did I imagine that in 25 years time I’d be holding something even more developed than his original PADD in my hand in the form of an iPad, just like Geordi La Forge.

So enough of the science fiction history lesson; let’s get some facts…

As Oliver Quinlan notes in his article (nesta.org.uk/blog/ innovation-education) from February 2014 “In the last five years UK schools have spent more than £1 billion on digital technology”. My first encounter with Nesta was following their report in 2012 called ‘Decoding Learning’ (nesta.org. uk/publications/decoding-learning) and as the report stated, the findings of their research were that despite this massive spend on technology, very little or no impact has been seen on learning or outcomes.

There are some key points for getting a return for your learning investment on education technology:

  • training
  • ongoing support
  • sustainability
  • infrastructure
  • culture / ethos
  • pedagogy

If you can get those key elements right, then technology can have an impact. The thing is, we live in 2015 now. Not 1995. I think it’s about time that the whole education community took technology in education a bit more seriously. While I realise that many will feel cheated because it’s 2015 and we haven’t yet got our hoverboards, despite being promised that in ‘Back to the Future 2’. I understand that. But I also know that just like we are all teachers of literacy, we are all teachers of digital literacy. As with most things in life, if we can model them well to our young people then they are more likely to pick up our good habits too. So just like we should err away from saying ‘I don’t do Maths’ we should also think carefully about making sure that we embrace our use of technology in purposeful ways too.

I firmly believe that there are no such things as digital natives or immigrants, despite seeing my five year old take to Google Search better than my mother. When it comes to technology in general, young people are good at what they’re good at; namely Instagram and YouTube. For the most part, the same is true of many educators, although of course no all. I know many who use technology both with purpose and pedagogy…

Click here to read the remainder of the article freely in the April 2015 Online Edition of UKEdMagazine

Read other articles by Mark by clicking here.

Mark Anderson @ICTevangelist is a former AHT, education consultant with a passion for creativity, learning and innovation in the classroom. Mark is an award-winning blogger, author of best-selling ‘Perfect ICT Every Lesson’, Independent Thinking Associate and finalist in this years UK Blog Awards.


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