As an educational consultant, I try to predict the future and make sure that we design our schools and prepare our students for this future. As said by others, it is a future that we have no idea what it is going to be like. So, how can one effectively predict and prepare without accurate knowledge? Work with what we know. We are not in a factory era; we are in an information era. We need to teach students how to answer questions, not content. The information age presents way too much information to try to learn it all. Students need to be equipped with skills that will allow them to find the answers to anything they want to know.
There are twelve points every educational institution and educator must understand to continue to be effective in the future.
The first point is:
Access to technology
In the past, access to technology was achieved by creating a computer lab in which the student would be given selected scheduled time in which to sit in front of a desktop computer doing technology training and internet access. The computer lab was the most cost effective way to make sure that students had some access to technology. The need to have a computer lab in the modern school became a thing of the past when portable computing devices decreased in price and were owned by much of the student body. It is now possible, cost effective, and practical for all students in grade four and above to have continuous access to portable technology that would give them access to the internet when and where it is required. The accommodation that this requires is an area where such technology can be stored and charged.
The current educational trend and research which speaks to this is the “one to one” movement.
School Computers labs have followed a familiar path. The computers have one by one broken down until the computer labs are of no use. The ease of use when taking a class into a room with enough computers for each student to have access was a great situation. A fully functional maintained computer lab is very expensive and requires a person responsible to maintain daily the machines.
Many modern classrooms have a teacher computers which has wired connectivity, these are administrative machines and are not used by the students. These are the machines which should be connected to the smartboards in the classrooms or a projector of some sort for sharing digital material. Security around these devices is important, and the machines should be locked when not in use by the teacher.
If desktop computers are included in the school as educational tools for students, they should be added as pods within the classrooms and other areas of the school. Each pod should contain between 2-4 desktop machines. These computers can be used for individual work, active learning, and digital production space. These machines should contain the most commonly used word processing software and other software utilized by the school. Any users of these machines should be required to log into the machine to gain access. Once a student logs off the machine, it should clean itself and prepare itself for the next student. There is school security software which is available and able to assist in the maintenance of these machines. Location of these machines should be where they can be supervised.
Access to technology goal for schools should be a one to one computing program with enough portable computing devices for each student in the school. Such a program requires a location within the building where the devices can be charged and secured. The Library or resource room is the best place for this, and it will be necessary to include electrical charging area and a lock up room. The library should also include the printing center for the building as well. This allows the resource teacher within the library to control the use of paper. Older students should be trusted with more technology and allowed to use it in other areas of the community and not only in the school. Students in this day and age need to be technologically literate to compete in the world market.
For more information contact Darren Cannell Educational Consultant.