Cheatsheet: Building a tech-forward school

Cheatsheet: Building a tech-forward school

With our school communities thrown into a state of flux as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many educators have had to fast-track their technology plans in order to provide remote learning opportunities to students.

And while many students are currently on school holidays, teachers are using this period to ready their campuses to potentially go remote in a matter of weeks.

Building a tech-forward school is something that in the past has taken years. It’s something that school leadership could carefully approach, evaluate various vendors, consult with stakeholders. But now, it’s been thrust upon schools, they’re having to make decisions quickly, and it’s unlikely education will ever be the same again.

The idea of a 9-to-3 classroom could shift after this stint of remote schooling. We could start to see agile classrooms, flexible education - similar to what we’re seeing in the workforce.

This shift may have been brought forward by the COVID-19 outbreak, however, how it evolved will depend on how technology like AI, machine learning, and educational software changes the way students are educated, and transforms the way schools and classrooms are run.

As we settle into these uncertain times, here are some tech trends that are going to really start to find their way into our classrooms, influencing the way students learn and how teachers teach. Here’s a brief look at a few:

Personalisation and adaptive learning

Every student is unique. Some thrive in a classroom environment, others play up or get lost in the crowd. Trying to engage so many different personalities in a lesson can be a significant challenge for teachers but with the help of programs like Khan Academy or software like DreamBox, lessons can be adapted to each student so everyone can learn at a pace that suits them.

Knowledge editing

With answers to most general knowledge questions just a Google away these days, many are questioning what actually needs to be taught in class. In years gone by, teachers would focus on preparing students for the workforce, however, there is a new school of thought *pardon the pun* that we actually need to teach students to be more independent and learn on their own or as a team. This gets rid of many rope learning exercises we all hated in school and replaces them with more team-work or collaborative exercises where students have to find the answers for themselves.

Data and insights

With more data available to track each classroom’s progress, educators are provided with increasing insight into how their students are progressing. It can also inform when students are the most productive, when they are best to learn in a group and when they are better to learn independently. It can really change the way students interact and learn.

Video classrooms

Increasingly, we’re seeing students log on to platforms like Zoom to join their class in lessons. It means that students can interact with their friends and teachers while in a remote situation.

Teachers are still - and will always be - critical

If you can read this, thank a teacher. Remember that one? Teachers will not be replaced by a robot at the front of the classroom. Technology’s benefit in the classroom is all in the way it’s used. When paired with interpersonal relationships, thoughtful educators, and deliberate programs, technology can be an incredible asset. But it’s not about having a kid staring at a screen for six hours a day. The real story for the future of education will centre around how educators structure and run their classrooms.

John de la Motte is founder and CEO of Compass.