Education + Technology = The Future
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Education + Technology = The Future

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Tech Trends visits Bett – the world’s largest EdTech Expo which takes place in London – to check out the latest in learning innovation that’s transforming the education landscape.

Bett 2018 brought 850 leading EdTech companies, 103 new start-ups and over 34,700 attendees from 131 countries together at the ExCel London Click To Tweet

Last week Bett 2018 brought 850 leading EdTech companies, 103 new start-ups and over 34,700 attendees from 131 countries together at the ExCel London to celebrate education, find inspiration and discuss the role technology plays in enabling all educators and learners to thrive. Tech Trends hooked up with two key innovators, Microsoft Education and Dell EMC to see what that future looks like.

Dell asked 1000 British parents with children in primary and secondary education about their thoughts on how technology is used in schools Click To Tweet

I know that very little I was taught at school is of any practical use to me in my working life, and a new piece of research from Dell highlights parents’ concerns that their children aren’t being prepared for the technological future they face. Dell asked 1000 British parents with children in primary and secondary education about their thoughts on how technology is used in schools to teach their children and came up with some striking results.

  • 93% of parents state that it’s vital for their child to have a positive experience with technology for their career and job prospects
  • Despite 92% of parents believing schools need to offer lessons that develop their kids’ IT skills, more than a third (38%) report their kids have access to better technology at home than they do in class
  • Other uses of IT parents would like to see include: data analysis for science subjects (31%) and the development of PowerPoints for class presentations (27%)

It’s essential that schools understand the importance of integrating technology into all aspects of student learning so that it doesn’t end up a siloed discipline targeted at those already interested in IT. Schools need to encourage students to engage with technology from a young age and develop core skills to prepare them for further education, giving them a head start in the world of work,” explained Richard Rawcliffe, Vice President, Public Sector, DellEMC UK and Ireland

Bett 2018 show microsoft dell emc 360 research chromebook stem hack education vr ar

Clearly, parents realise that the work environment has evolved hugely since they were at school. There is widespread acknowledgement that new skills need to be taught and new forms of tech-based learning developed to equip their children to succeed in the digital age. Chatting with John Lyons, Dell’s Director of Marketing and Product Development at Dell Education it was clear that those parents are the driving force behind the implementation of new tech in US & UK classrooms.

A lot of parents decisions (on school selection) are based on, do you deploy student devices, what type of devices, can you teach with them or do you just hand them out? The hardest part for teachers is they are now walking into a teaching environment where they have students sitting there with their ChromeBooks and Windows devices and they’re not trained to actually deliver a curriculum based on that technology. So we have to engage our professional learning and services teams to help them and it’s not something you can teach over a weekend, it takes time.

Bett 2018 show microsoft dell emc 360 research chromebook stem hack education vr ar

Schools need to integrate technology into all aspects of student learning so that it doesn’t end up a siloed discipline targeted at those already interested in IT Click To Tweet

This makes sense as any new tech-based classroom and curriculum will need well-trained teachers to deliver it and we are not just talking about IT teachers; parents clearly want technology to be a learning tool in all subject areas.

  • Over a quarter (26%) admitting they are concerned IT is primarily taught as a separate subject rather than being embedded into all lessons
  • Just under half of the parents (48%) would like their kids to use technology to research all subjects
  • 45% who would like IT used for every-day coursework
  • 39% of parents stating they would like to see their children use technology within classes such as Coding Clubs

Bett 2018 show microsoft dell emc 360 research chromebook stem hack education vr ar

Teachers are now walking into a classroom where students are sitting there with their ChromeBooks and Windows devices, and they’re not trained to actually deliver a curriculum based on that technology Click To Tweet

Parents are clearly asking for a total revolution in education here, not just throwing a few more computers into classrooms, but fully embracing what technology can offer children and our society. They want to see the evolution of the curriculum and teaching methods to advance the very systems and processes of education as we understand it. After all, isn’t education supposed to give our children the skills they will need in their lives? As key suppliers of technology to schools Dell are very aware of the need to continue advancing their products and work closely with partners such a Microsoft to ensure they supply those classrooms with the tech they need.

Ultimately our goal is to allow children to use technology so that when they graduate from school they are equiped to deal with University, real life and the workplace. Explains John Lyons. Using History as a pilot for the future, an example of where technologies including AR and VR could integrate into a History lesson, to put them in the world of that History lesson, put them in the actual environment of the people they are studying, living it in a VR session. The challenge is we don’t know what the right configuration is going to look like for that, the software has not quite caught up. There are a lot of schools in the US that have pushed the one to one, take home devices for students but are now coming back to the in-class model using specialized devices for different subjects. It’s a really interesting model and we are trying to make sure we have the right devices for whatever their goals are going forwards.

Bett 2018 show microsoft dell emc 360 research chromebook stem hack education vr ar

The Microsoft stand at Bett 2018 was the largest in the cavernous ExCel hall and packed full of innovative education projects and technology but if we need an example of how to revolutionise education and embed technology in our schools then Microsoft’s Hacking STEM project was the best demonstration at the show this year. Hacking STEM is a partnership between the Education Workshop, Hack for Good and the Microsoft Garage and reinvents what K-12 lessons can be, proving EdTech is not just about glueing kids to screens but creatively merging technology with hands-on skills in practical lessons that blur the lines between traditional subjects and pull together many of a child’s abilities while encouraging collaboration.

Many schools in the US are now coming back to the in-class model using specialized devices for different subjects Click To Tweet

Bett 2018 show microsoft dell emc 360 research chromebook stem hack education vr ar

Hacking STEM was originally prototyped by the Education Workshop as a Hack For Good during Microsoft’s 2016 //Oneweek Hackathon. Designed to run on inexpensive Windows 10 laptops in the $300 range, it uses a ‘hacked’ version of Excel to bring to life the fundamentals of science and open the emerging world of IOT to the classroom and help teachers meet the NGSS and ISTE standards for data science.

Our goal is to support teachers building inquiry and project-based activities that embed computational and design thinking into existing middle school curriculum. We want to democratize STEM for learners and demonstrate how all schools can provide affordable opportunities to bring ‘making’ and 21st century technical skills to the classroom. Microsoft Education Workshop

Tech Trends tested out three innovative lesson demos that covered earthquake science and shake-proof architecture, robotics, building machines that emulate human anatomy and using the Pythagorean theorem to explore and measure topography in 2D/3D space. Yes, you read that right, but that is what these lessons prove, complex maths, science, technology and engineering can be taught in fun and accessible ways if we open our minds and adjust our preconceptions about how we teach and what kids are capable of. These lessons were truly inspiring and almost made me want to teach, almost. Hell, they made me want to learn!

Bett 2018 show microsoft dell emc 360 research chromebook stem hack education vr ar

Hacking STEM is designed to run on inexpensive Windows 10 laptops in the $300 range and uses a hacked version of Excel to bring to life the fundamentals of science Click To Tweet On the Hacking STEM site, you will find bite-sized, hands-on, teacher-tested projects and activities that use everyday materials to make STEM affordable, accessible, and fun Click To Tweet

The Pythagorean lesson involves kids acting as environmental surveyors and engineers, they build measuring tools with cardboard or LEGO bricks to create and visualize an initial transportation plan for the development of an island national park in Excel. LEGO Education partnered with Microsoft, on this, supplying their Simple & Powered Machines Sets, out of which kids build the tools and 3D maps needed for the lesson. The goal is to build an efficient transportation plan that minimizes the environmental impact on the island. They then bring their National Park to life by adding topographic elements in Paint 3D which are then translated into Augmented Reality.

Bett 2018 show microsoft dell emc 360 research chromebook stem hack education vr ar

We can’t praise these incredible lessons enough, and strongly recommend you take a look, whether you are a teacher or just keen to get your kids more engaged with STEM at home. On the Hacking STEM site, you will find bite-sized, hands-on, teacher-tested projects and activities that use everyday materials to make STEM affordable, accessible, and fun. I had a blast with them and can only envy any child who is lucky enough to learn in a school that truly appreciates and embraces the possibilities demonstrated here.

Bett 2018 show microsoft dell emc 360 research chromebook stem hack education vr ar

Meanwhile, Dell, are also staying on the cutting edge of affordable technology with their new 5000 series Chromebooks, producing products that ensure schools can afford to provide children with the basic technology they need while looking forwards and developing solutions for kids to get involved with next generation of EdTech such as AR and VR immersive technologies.

The challenge, concludes Lyons, is that there is no standard set of applications schools use: “in AR and VR we are partnering heavilly with Microsoft, on both the hardware design and software design, Intel is also involved in that process. I think we are within a year at least of actually delivering this technology to the education market.”

Bett 2018 show microsoft dell emc 360 research chromebook stem hack education vr ar

These lessons prove that complex subjects can be taught in fun and accessible ways Click To Tweet

Dell’s new research suggests parents have the will and the power to influence the direction schools take in our technological future and these inspiring lessons will truly open your eyes to what is possible and how achievable it is. If politicians, state funding bodies and academic institutions can be won over by these concepts, it would be a huge step towards future-proofing our children’s education.

Dell’s new research suggests parents have the will and the power to influence the direction schools take in our technological future Click To Tweet

Bett 2018 show microsoft dell emc 360 research chromebook stem hack education vr ar

Tom Atkinson is a Digital Producer & Photographer at R3Digital and Reviews & Dept. Editor at Tech Trends. Follow him on Twitter @R3Digital

 

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