Entrepreneurship, Marketing and the Interwebs

Blog by JP Zeni

The Future of Technological Education

leave a comment »

My wife is a grade 1 teacher so I get to hear a lot about the way schools, education and classrooms work. Some of the things that the Ontario government and the school boards are really being emphasizing right now include improvements in pedagogy, advancements in accomodations for youth with learning disabilities and the increasing use of metrics and evaluation for measuring both the effectiveness of teachers but also the continual tracking of student learning. These all seem to be worthwhile priorities (although the standardized testing and evaluation leaves much to be desired from an implementation standpoint IMO) but one thing I rarely if ever hear about is advancements in technology in the classroom.

THE IMPETUS
I believe the next 5-10 years will be the time horizon where we begin to see an increasing focus on integrating much higher levels of technology into the classroom. The reality is that students these days are using the same tools of learning in the classroom that have been used since the turn of the early 20th century while the rest of the world has by in large migrated away from the paper and pencil world of 50 years ago. Right now this doesn’t seem to be a topic of great debate amongst the general Canadian public but I think this will change as we see a change in the parental demographic. Current parents are of primary and secondary school students are for the most part in their mid thirties to early 50s and these generations didn’t grow up with around ubiquotous technology and an interactive web but that’s about to change. The parents of 10 years from now are going to be the people who grew up with the internet and technologies such as smart phones, laptops, tablets, etc and expect those things to be integrated into their everyday lives. And I believe those parents are going to be the ones who demand we start leveraging and integrating technology into schools.

Personally, it’s my opinion that this should be a funding priority of both the provincial and federal governements. At the moment this country is fueling is global competitive advantage with dirty oil from the tar sands in Alberta. A vector for growth that I believe is unsustainable, harmful to the environment and thus harmful to Canada’s reputation in the global community. Instead of providing incentives and tax breaks to major oil and gas producers we should be actively taxing dirty oil in order to fund a real, sustainable, competitive advantage in our future workforce. This of course will require consistent and intense public debate … but that’s where the impetus of those parents who grew up with technology will come in to play.

THE IMPLEMENTATION
Some of my thoughts on how to we should integrate technology into the classroom:

Introduction of thin client devices for each individual students into the classroom

  • Will help keep individual hardware costs down
  • Will allow software to be cloud based to prevent excess licensing fees
  • Will prevent high costs of regularly updating client side software

Create and fund comprehensive open source education projects

  • Allows boards to have free alternatives to what could be otherwise cost prohibitive 3rd party products
  • Individual education programs, device management, content management systems, resource librariesand more could all be scaled efficiently with well organized and funded open source projects

Create a unified opt-in purchasing / procurement plan for all parents and school boards country wide

  • OPT-IN is key … there must be room for vendor competition

Cloud based

  • Deeply integrate/network the thin devices with central scalable processing hubs
  • Cloud based services allow for control of thin devices within the classroom and ease of distribution/access to new software

Educational Software with Built in Game Mechanics

  • HUGELY IMPORTANT! Make it FUN!!
  • I’m not talking about turning math class into a version of Call of Duty but creating game mechanics that reward and incent learning in real time.
  • Frictionless and playful UI, points, levels, virtual rewards, classroom rankings (this may be no-no), etc should be made part of each educational application

Digitized and Automated Marking and Metrics

  • Learning is about more than just test scores … how are students engaging in their work, how much time do they spend working on classroom activities, how often do they complete assignments on time so make and track these metrics.
  • Marking is a time suck for teachers – so reduce it
  • Automate whenever possible
  • Aggregate grades/metrics online and have direct compatibility with report cards
  • Allow parental real-time / regularly updated access to test scores
  • Flags and alerts for failure to hit benchmark metrics

 

Advertisements

Written by jpzeni

February 10, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: