Education can be conducted in a number of different ways but it’s technology that plays an increasingly crucial role in how it can be delivered.
Last year a survey by Cogeco and Lan₃ revealed that although 41 per cent of schools surveyed had identified BYOD as a key area to prioritise for implementation over the next two years, only 29 per cent of secondary schools had delivered a BYOD model. Somewhat surprising when you consider how much the smartphone and tablet has become a lifestyle product for most children, and to such an extent that there are attempts to curtail usage. Familiarity of a device should provide more engagement with students. Of course, for BYOD to be successfully implemented it needs to have a robust infrastructure to support it both in terms of access for the devices and the hosting of learning materials. It also requires equally robust connectivity with increased use of Wi-Fi in all areas of the school or campus. Clearly one of the barriers or concerns has been security. With BYOD there is an increased risk in online security as students need to connect to the school or university network and therefore the chance of spreading viruses grows. However, protecting internal assets, blocking malware, supporting guest access and isolating sensitive information from the rest of the network are just as common in business as it is for schools. It simply requires the support and expertise of a reseller.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) allow busy professionals to learn at their own pace and convenience using their own devices. MOOCs rely on technology along with the motivation of the student for their success. Aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web, they provide course material, filmed lectures and forums to support community interactions amongst students.
Blended learning makes use of sophisticated technology and face-to-face learning. Whilst the emphasis is on the student working through the digital materials at their own pace, they are also supported by interaction with a teacher or subject matter expert.
Flipped learning is helping to transform the classroom experience for students. The traditional model of teachers lecturing and sharing knowledge in class and students completing practice and homework on their own to build on what they have learned has undergone change in some educational circles. Rather than spending the lesson learning about the topic, students do the preparation beforehand and then ideally the class activities enrich what the student has already covered at night and the daytime class can be more challenging with problem solving and practical analysis. With interactive content like videos and collaborative tools, technology plays a crucial role in the flipped classroom. Over the last few years schools have improved their Wi-Fi services and most homes have broadband connectivity. With 5G on the horizon, this will improve video streaming even further. Obviously, this also relies on students having access to the necessary hardware.
The emergence of technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality may well provide a further alternative. Once these become more affordable and with more software developed for educational establishments, the potential for student learning outside of the classroom could be even greater. Irrespective, technology will continue to be the enabler for how education and teaching is delivered in the future and that’s good news for the IT channel.