Seeing is believing in learning

Giving teachers the tools to address 21st century challenges is crucial but it's not that simple, says Sony's Damien Weissenburger

When Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan announced plans to increase Government investment in school technology at BETT 2015, she spoke about how technology should be used to inspire change, to help the education system “break the mould” and raise standards. Innovative technologies, she said, have to be at the heart of this journey, and nowhere is this more evident than in the advancement of audio visual technology (AV) and internet-based learning resources. 

Giving teachers and students the latest tools to address the challenges of the 21st century is crucial, but it’s not that simple. As Ms Morgan suggests, teachers need to stay on top of technology – young people often know more about technology, an Ofcom study in August last year found that 14-15-year-olds are the most tech savvy in the UK. WE must ensure that teachers understand technology better.

This knowledge divide is what education guru Sir Ken Robinson refers to as “the biggest generation gap since rock n roll”. It is vital that we bridge this gap and ensure there is a consistency of access across the teachers and learners of today and the future. 

Futureproofing 

Students enjoy technology, but more specifically they enjoy the entertainment aspects of technology. Short form video via sites such as YouTube or online games (including collaborative ones played with friends) are top entertainment activities, indicating the potential popularity of gamification of learning. Recent research from Talent LMS claims that almost 80% of learners would be more productive if their work was more game-like, with over 60% motivated by leaderboards and increased competition between students.  

As technology becomes more prolific in the classroom, applications such as gamification can flourish, but experience tells us the speed of development can mean any investment made today may not be enough to cope with the applications of tomorrow. 

This is fundamental for AV. The demand for increased resolutions and interactive technologies is inevitable given the increased visualisation of lessons and social collaboration. Companies must futureproof investments so that you can take advantage of the latest high-resolution technologies. It is important to understand the market, providing specialist, adaptable products that will fulfil needs for the foreseeable.  

Return on investment

Measuring the true value of any investment is difficult in education. Increasing student engagement and achievement can be a barometer for ROI, however using technology and infrastructure is also an attractive differentiator at when recruiting students is also important.

Increased funding of technology infrastructures has allowed teachers and students to see real possibilities for the future. Teachers now appreciate the importance of technology, particularly where more traditional methodologies have failed to yield satisfactory results (according to research from the National Literacy Trust, technology can have an impact on reading levels particularly with disadvantaged children).

The industry is on the cusp of real achievement through change, but only if teachers, trained and equipped with leading edge education technology, are given the freedom to use these resources to their full potential. This is what will help prepare students for a working world where technology is at the core of business and innovation. 

We’ve already come a long way from the traditional rowed-desks of industrial revolution classrooms, but we still have far to go. We can certainly help drive that journey. As Sir Bob Geldof said at the BETT show in 2015, “it’s a singular future; people’s minds must be engaged. Technology is a key element of that process.

Damien Weissenburger is Head of Corporate and Education at Sony Europe.