In the last 15 years, the use of technology in schools has changed beyond recognition. From just one or two computers per school, to ‘computer suites’, to current day, where some schools provide access to technology across the whole school and to use it across all subjects. Will the future of education in the next 20 years be of student interacting with technology to drive their own learning? Will schools as we know them cease to exist? Will our technology hungry young learners no longer need teachers? Virtually every job we do today requires some kind of technology. Students need to be technologically adept, including information literacy, visual literacy, and technological literacy.
Schools are using materials developed decades ago, but today’s students come to school with very different experiences than those of 20 years ago. And by the time they leave the world of education the real world will have moved on again. We should be teaching them about how to keep up. Schools need to adapt to current student needs and identify new learning methods that are engaging to younger generations and teach them to use technology wisely.
There are three ways to teach…tell someone, show someone or let them do it themselves. With developments in technology children can do it themselves earlier and much quicker. Our educational establishments need to be harnessing this new way to learn and using it for all it is worth. This puts an added requirement on today’s teachers. A requirement to have the skills and capabilities to use technology to meet the needs of learners. They need to understand and be comfortable using the technology that is out there to engage young learners. And there is a plethora of options available from educational software, online games, eBooks for children, and educational websites.
A recent survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project [*1] found that online game experience is extremely common among young people, requiring active participation and interaction, and signalled that current educational methods may not be engaging students enough. So are games the future of education? Perhaps. But whether you agree or not it does raise the issue whether education needs to be as engaging as computer games in order to engage young minds. And what does this mean for teachers? Will they be out of a job? No. Their role will still be to prepare children for their futures in the real world. Not by telling, but by mentoring and coaching. Technology can never replace a good teacher but it can make a good teacher better and a very good teacher absolutely brilliant in fulfilling their role of preparing children for the future world.