The #FutureSchool: Evolution or Transformation?
For hundreds of years pedagogy has formed the core to teaching and learning.
Learning outcomes and academic results have become the focus for educators and the community around them - a narrow view that is having less and less to do with today's modern needs in education. While striving for educational greatness is not necessarily a bad thing, the single-mindedness desire to top league tables and churn out the best grades is failing our children. Schools need to be adaptable to new styles of education, otherwise the only losers will be those who are receiving an education.
Schools tend to focus on buying technology, without considering the human impact.
Schools talk a lot about ‘educating the whole child’, and ‘giving them opportunities beyond the curriculum’ to thrive in what they are good at - but are we missing the point?
Teaching practise has had to evolve to the changing world around us. However we, as people, have not evolved at the same rate. Sorry humanity but humans are lazy by design. We typically look for the easiest path, so long as the result is acceptable. Technology has played a significant part in making knowledge far more accessible - and when used correctly it has helped make learning a more immersive, engaging and fun undertaking. But these are the exceptions!
Because schools tend to focus on buying technology, without considering the human impact. It's easy to see why - tech is more often than not wrapped up with simple labels and the promise of being the answer to everything:
- Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
- Parent Portals
- Management Information System (MIS)
- Learning Management System (LMS)
- ...and so on!
All of these have one thing in common - they invariably fail after the point of implementation. This is because users (real people) have not been considered enough, nor trained to unleash the full potential of these innovations.
Schools are left with these technology silos - slowly becoming digital graveyards to old ideas.
Users are often only defined as the end-user (at the point of consumption) but we must consider this both in terms of management (someone needs to manage the data / content going in), and also in terms of the consumer (accessing this data / content in their personalised way).
So schools are left with these technology silos - slowly becoming digital graveyards to old ideas. The entire platform is doomed to fail the very moment a user gives up using it for the intention it was originally brought in for.
Data, then, becomes inconsistent and untrustworthy. Likewise, the point where users access this information becomes confusing, duplicated across multiple systems and completely lacking in data integrity. The true foundations to a sustainable and scaleable technological infrastructure need to be revisited and challenged.
For this to work, a #FutureSchool needs to bring into perfect harmony:
- big data / content
- the environment
- human behaviour
When technology is integrated correctly into our lives it is invisible. It has been weaved seamlessly in to the fabric of the environment and our day-to-day living. It is easy to use and easy to manage (this part is often forgotten). Most importantly, we must start to put people at the front of all our IT decisions. We need to understand the innate behaviours that people have for using technology - and what they wish to consume. Only then can schools deliver amazing, fantastic, super user experiences.
If we are to educate our children for a #FutureWorld, then the #FutureSchool needs to correlate to this.
This requires immediate transformation within schools. We are probably at the only time in history that our children know more about the real world around us than the teachers. This is certainly true when it comes to technology and social media.
Schools and teachers seek the easy path and bury their heads (human nature again). But we must invest in more staff training. We must spread this knowledge to parents (organising parent training events) to better help and support them. It is pointless to say that this huge change is coming - the change has happened! If we wish to support the next generation of students this educator / parent knowledge needs to be in place - now.
If we are to educate our children for a #FutureWorld, then the #FutureSchool needs to correlate to this - and not just be an attempt to introduce technology into a classroom and hope that it is enough.
We all need to challenge the way we look at things if we are to truly impact the future of education.
Put the ‘human first’. Ignore this basic principle - and it will all fall down like a house of cards.
Simon Noakes (Founder & CEO)
and father to four children aged 5 - 13 years!