By Hayley Hewett, final year Business & Enterprise student
Recently I have been intrigued by how much we rely on technology. Some of you may be aware of the panic that sets in when these tormenting words ping through to your phone - 'You’ve used all your UK data this month' (the more risk adverse among us will have omitted the pain by signing up to unlimited data).
My point is that we need the internet for almost everything, whether it is the ease of having our schedule simultaneously update on all our devices, using our Fitbit device to ensure we are on track with our health or using the latest app to navigate us around a new city.
This led me to think about other areas of my life that are not so heavily invested in technology. Schooling, particularly in Britain, seems to be stuck in the Middle Ages in terms of technology implementation. During the 15 years I spent in compulsory education, the only major breakthrough I witnessed was the introduction of smart boards and the intranet – if this space continues to progress at its current rate then what outcome it will have on our economy?
Universities are supposed to produce graduates who have the abilities companies need most. But corporate recruiters say some highly sought-after skills (namely communication, creative problem-solving, strategic thinking) are in short supply. These skills cannot be taught in the classroom, exams that mainly test the ability to remember and repeat information are not allowing the leaders of tomorrow to open their minds and think imaginatively.
Tech-ed (as it is now known) is a growing space; last year alone $13 billion was invested in it globally. There is a new trend that you might be interested in learning about, it is called flipped-learning. Now, as the name suggests, it flips traditional learning techniques around as students watch lectures online in their free time and then do ‘homework’ in lessons. The benefit of this being that homework is more interactive than conventional lessons.
If we now go on a theoretical journey and scale this concept further into universities we can see the benefits of tech-ed. Universities have come under a lot of criticism for not providing value to students and putting too much focus on research. Therefore, this would eliminate the need for giant lecture halls full of tired students being talked at by a lecturer. Those grey-haired (or indeed bald) lecturers who have been at the establishment for so long that they are now as integral to it as the pillars holding the building up, will be forced to step up. University lecturers will no longer need to lecture, they will be able to pre-record material (naturally updating lectures where new technology, science and innovation make due) and concentrate on interactive sessions to break down the material learnt and build relationships with students.
This upside-down way of teaching will expose bad teaching practices and increase the amounts of uni-leavers with the rare, desired skills that employers are looking for – creative problem-solving, strategic thinking and communication skills.
Imagining a world where education has evolved to allow project-based learning, maker education and game-based learning is an exciting thought. Whilst this kind of tech is being made and implemented there needs to remain a focus on interactivity to utilise the powerful analytical tools for student response that these systems possess. This will eliminate the one major flaw in tech-ed that is the short attention span of students and their inability to motivate themselves.
The tool itself must remain secondary to the goal. Technology education systems will win the market if they keep the end goal in mind, over pushing tech innovations for tech’s own sake.