Tech serves schoolchildren well
"Technology is an extremely important enabler that can help schools become a positive place for a young person's development," says Kati Tiainen, Director of Microsoft's Digital Learning Strategy Team.
Technology frees students from book learning, from the desk and from the building. The focus is increasingly on what education can be, rather than what it has been.
How we learn can be transformed from old-style book learning to finding entirely new ways forward, but only if schools take full advantage of the opportunities presented by digital technology. Used properly, technology can be a new type of servant bringing change, rather than a master trying to control it.
“Technology is, after all, an extremely important enabler that can help schools become a positive place for a young person’s development,” says Kati Tiainen, Director of Microsoft’s Digital Learning Strategy Team.
Technology as a force for change will become apparent if educational processes change in the same way they have in the rest of society. Continuous learning, networking, challenging what you know and creating new things are ever more important throughout contemporary culture.
Information technology is of most value in schools if used to develop a new way of thinking – not just to study information technology. What’s least useful is the automation of old methods.
“It’s worth thinking about the additional value of technology in learning. What could schools do smarter with technology, and what’s easier with a paper and pen?”
Network-like vs individual learning
Information technology is an excellent support for phenomenon-based learning, which combines skills from several areas to understand a specific phenomenon. Very few in working life consider the variety of basic skills required in, for example, an international construction project. The same project may require skills in mathematics, languages, psychology, and many other subjects.
In phenomenon-based work, the answer isn’t in a single subject’s study book – you have to know how to combine that information. Often, the answer is nowhere to be found, requiring the creation of new information.
“At its best, learning includes a conflict that you’re trying to solve. You might have a conflict between the old information and the new.”
In phenomenon-based learning, students work in networks similar to those they would in working life. These networks can be contained within a classroom or extend between schools or even countries. Information technology makes international cooperation possible at an early stage in a way that was unimaginable for the previous generation.
In addition to collaborative learning, it enables a new kind of individual learning. Individuality is important because a class may have participants from several countries, supremely talented students – and also students that require special support.
When the know-how and backgrounds of students are so varied, both collaborative and individual learning solutions are required. When teachers can share their study materials, they will be able to provide a tailored education that matches various needs.
Information technology can also provide new tools for remote learning, allowing a student who is travelling or on the mend to open a video link with their school.
In addition to excellent data connections, new school work requires that data and privacy are also protected. These were the core elements of a trial in which DNA Business provided a wireless network to Olari High School in Espoo, to test a wireless matriculation exam environment.