The road ahead will be challenging, but an overhaul of education is vital for everyone, the OECD’s Andreas Schleicher tells The Memo.
We recently told you about Canada’s blossoming tech scene. Now, some of the world’s biggest education influencers are gathering in Toronto to shape our schools of the future.
Andreas Schleicher, a Director at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), is just one acclaimed speaker who’ll be tackling themes of big data, gamification, social media, coding and digital culture at this week’s Education Technology Summit 2016.
Investing in education technology is no longer an option, but a necessity, says the German statistician. The world had better listen up.
Changing the way we learn
Pivotally, new digital tools can make learning more engaging says Schleicher.
“Technology can enhance experiential learning, foster project-based and inquiry-based pedagogies, facilitate hands-on activities and cooperative learning, and deliver formative real-time assessment,” he explains.
Virtual labs, interactive software for experimentation and simulation, social media and games are just a few ways we can bring this about, said the Director.
So who’s leading the way already?
“Canada is doing reasonably well on most indicators that we have, but the Nordic countries in Europe are at the frontier of education technology,” says Schleicher.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise: Scandinavia is not only creating some of the most innovative apps (from Vivino to King mobile games) but it is fast becoming a key player in digital finance, and we’ve already seen Sweden embrace eSports on its school curriculum, and record-breaking children’s coding classes in Norway.
One innovative Chinese programme that supports teachers has also caught Schleicher’s eye.
“Shanghai provides its teachers with an intelligent platform to share their lesson plans,” he explained. “The more other teachers use your lessons, comment on your lessons, criticise them or improve them, the more status and respect you obtain as a teacher throughout the province.”
“At the end of the school year, your principal will not just ask you how well you taught the students in the classroom, but what contribution you made to Shanghai’s education system.”
“That’s about empowerment, about professional autonomy in a collaborative culture.”
Creating the schools of the future
We’ve already spoken to the British Gojimo founder George Burgess about how the UK education system must evolve. But where does Schleicher think will the world be in 10 years time?
“I hope we will use technology much more imaginatively to connect learners, and give learners a greater sense of belonging and engagement.”
“Technology should allow for deeper learning, and flexibility for more individual choices to accelerate learning, and to use out-of-school learning in effective and innovative ways.”
How to we achieve these dreams?
As in many evolving industries, big challenges lie ahead.
“We need to acknowledge that we are still light years away from reaping the benefits of technology in education,” says Schleicher.
“Schools simply haven’t become good enough at the kind of pedagogies that make the most of technology.”
“If students use smartphones to copy and paste answers to prefabricated questions from Google, then they are unlikely to become smarter: Teachers who want to ensure that students become smarter than a smartphone need to think harder about the instructional methods and learning environments they are using.”
“We are probably also overestimating the digital skills of both teachers and students,” Schleicher added.
“The real contributions ICT can make to teaching and learning have yet to be fully realised and exploited.”
If we ever want these dreams to be realised, we have to invest in our future. One of the best ways to do this is to invest in education technology.
The Education Technology Summit 2016 will take place at the Sheraton Centre, Toronto, Canada from Tuesday 5 April – Wednesday 6 April.