Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Technology - A World Where Learners Never Meet Their Teachers: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Technology - A World Where Learners Never Meet Their Teachers: News

Article excerpt

Bold vision for education to be shared at international summit.

The lessons of the future may not take place in schools - and students may never even meet their teachers, an education technology expert has predicted.

Instead, education could take place in centres for students of all ages, with expert teachers giving lessons by video to thousands of learners across the globe, according to a bold vision of how teaching could look in the decades to come that will be debated at a global education conference next week.

This vision belongs to Mervi Jansson-Aalto, director of education partnerships at Finnish digital education firm InnoOmnia. She will tell delegates at the World Innovation Summit for Education (Wise) in Qatar that politicians, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and schools need to work together to harness the potential of technology for improving education.

"We already have access to technology," Ms Jansson-Aalto told TES. "Five years into the future, access won't be the issue (for developing countries) any more; learning can (take place) in very different geographical locations."

While young people were digital natives, many teachers were uncomfortable about switching completely to digital learning, she said: "Children are very fast with technology; it's the adults who are too slow. As people in the teaching profession, are we weighed down with our historical perspective about what education is?"

Broadcasting lessons by "expert teachers" to a number of schools simultaneously using video technology would be a cost-effective way of improving teaching standards, Ms Jansson-Aalto suggested, with students receiving assistance from "learning guides" in their classroom.

"I think it can be successful anywhere," she argued. "In Europe you have budgets being cut; this would be affordable and would transform education.

"Whether it's in a building called a school, or more of a learning centre (where students have) a personalised schedule and learning goals, I don't know."

But Ms Jansson-Aalto insisted that it remained vital for students to share a physical location: "It's important they learn together. The real world involves communication, learning to be with other people. I can't see how that would not take place."

Her belief that some kind of classroom would persist was echoed by Ted Chang, chief technology officer and vice-president of Quanta Computer, a Taiwan-based firm. …

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