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The Future of the Classroom

Posted by Abigail Bryant on April 22, 2016

Goldman Sachs: Disruptive Technology Symposium

Last week our CEO and co-founder, Hugo Wernhoff, had the honor of being invited to speak at Goldman Sachs’ Disruptive Technology Symposium in London.

With a panel consisting of leading CEOs and co-founders of companies in education, the discussion revolved around The Future of the Classroom and current trends in the educational sphere. There were three main themes, or topics, which arose. These were:

  • Will schools and classrooms be completely online in the future?
  • Beyond a computer lab and the occasional iPad, technology has played a limited role in learning. Is it right to say that schools have stubbornly resisted technological innovation?
  • Will teachers be replaced by technology in the future?

Although many things were covered during the discussion, we thought it would be a good idea to summarize a few of the main points below, in an effort to bring you some industry insight from the finest minds in education and innovation.

Will schools and classrooms be completely online in the future?

This is understandably a sensitive issue for those working in education. A transition away from conventional teaching methods is to some degree inevitable given the rise of technology across other industries – but to what extent could things change?

According to the panelists, the “brick-and-mortar” system is not going anywhere soon, and nor should it. It brings a value to students that cannot be replaced by any present or envisioned technology. As social beings, we have a need for personal interactions and, aside from teaching, schools currently serve that need. On top of academic studies, students learn how to interact among peers and the social values they need to excel later in life – two things that cannot be replaced with video conferences and online chats.

Beyond a computer lab and the occasional iPad, technology has played a limited role in learning. Is it right to say that schools have stubbornly resisted technological innovation?

Have educators been reluctant to embrace the potential for technology in the classroom, or is it simply a case of ensuring the value is there before adapting current systems?

The panelists argued that although there has been slow progress regarding schools adapting to technological innovation, it has been this way for good reason. It is not the schools that have failed students; it is technology and product companies, that until now have failed to deliver products useful enough to justify radical changes.

There is no intrinsic value in bringing technology into classrooms. Instead, the value lies in introducing better pedagogy; which is something technology has the potential to do. It just hasn’t done it yet.

So rather than seeing the situation as schools being stubborn, it is more that nothing valuable enough has been offered to them. It is a failure of the market. In fact, many schools are actively looking for ways to bring more technology into their teaching.

Lastly, the infrastructure required for technological innovation just hasn’t been in place until very recently. It is only now that universal internet availability and access to hardware (i.e. devices) have started to take shape. It’s now possible to successfully provide better learning experiences to students through the application of technology.

Will teachers be replaced by technology?

Just as in the first topic addressed, the role of teachers in a future world of artificial intelligence, sophisticated online resources and digital media appears uncertain. Will teachers have to adapt or be replaced completely?

robot teacher

Interestingly enough, everyone on the panel agreed that technology will never replace teachers. A lot of the magic and aha moments that happen in the classroom are due to a teacher’s ability to coach, coax and challenge their students. The capacity to create a learning relationship requires an element of humanity and is a difficult skill to master. For this reason technology cannot replace teachers, it will empower them.

The panel instead agreed that what has started to change and will continue to change is the role of the teacher, and how teachers will spend their time in the classroom. Rather than being content deliverers, they will shift to take on more of a coaching role, resulting in an approach focused on student growth.

What technology can do for teachers is save time and drive efficiency. By automating work such as assignments, marking and results compilation, teachers can get an extra 20-40% more time to spend with students to guide and encourage them.

What are your thoughts regarding the future of education?

Share them with us below in the comment section!

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Author: Abigail Bryant

Abi is Head of Support at Kognity, where she works closely with teachers and students getting them set up and ensuring their experience with Kognity is a great one. Previously she worked as an English teacher working with International Schools in South East Asia.

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