Technology has transformed the way we live; as a result the UK education system has had to undergo radical change.
The most evident development has been the steady progression from the use of blackboards, to white boards, and now interactive boards; this transition taking well over a decade. It does appear however that the digital revolution will place a greater demand on educational bodies and institutions to take up new technologies at a faster rate, with a greater deal of urgency.
This is because the environment that children are now growing up in is centered around the use of digital products. Research undertaken by Ofcom found the Millennium generation of 14 and 15 year olds are the most technology savvy in the UK, yet until only recently, digital software and new technology was shunned by many academic institutions.
The demand is also coming from professionals, academics, and employers across the UK warning of a digital skills gap. An astonishing 77% of companies consider missing digital skills as the biggest hurdle in their digital transformation. Research undertaken by General Assembly found that the UK needs to plug a gap of 750,000 digitally trained workers by 2017 or risk costing the UK £2 billion per year. Companies dealing in Big Data have also seen their job vacancies unfilled with only a third of the 4.4 million jobs needed in the sector being occupied.
Schools have reacted to the demand for digital skills, with 70% of primary and secondary schools owning tablets. Large companies like Apple have made it easier for software to be implemented into schools, through the lifting of Apple ID restrictions. Google have followed suit, creating apps solely for education purposes to be used in the classroom. There has also been an upsurge in new digital platforms created for education use, take Classcraft for example their gaming site helps teachers motivate and engage their students by transforming their classroom into a role playing game.
Understanding algorithms and coding is now part of the curriculum for many primary schools, please take a look at the curriculum.
This development has been spurred on by companies like Barclay’s and their ‘code playground’; the site teaches kids the basics of coding. Although some experts believe that schools should forget tablet devices, and start focusing on cloud and anywhere access. It has been suggested that the future of teaching is going to be centred on social platforms. Schools could well have residential students as well as long distance learners, and as a result interactive technology will be at the fore.
Although some leading figures are reluctant to fully adopt new technologies into the school curriculum. Tristian Hunt the Shadow Education Secretary has a different outlook on tech; he believes that putting too much emphasis on digital within schools could have negative impact on children. Speech, interaction, play and communication could all be affected by an over reliance on tech.
He does raise an interesting point, that the new digital economy we are now entering into will require a higher level of innovation and creativity. Consequently there will be greater requirement for advanced communication skills at a young age.
There does appear to be a need to strike a balance between the use of technology with the use of traditional teaching methods. Whatever way you approach education reform, technology will play a significant role.