I was recently at a Cardiff Business Club event listening to Lord David Puttnam talking about the importance of technology in education, primary school education in particular. His message was one that really strikes a chord with me, both as a mother of a teenager and also as someone who works in the web industry.
Simply, Lord Puttnam is incredibly passionate about the way that schools can use technology to enhance the students learning experience, for example by using a web camera to allow students from British schools to speak to students of a similar age in French schools instead of just using text books – or enabling world-class scientists to present their studies to physics classes through a live, streaming web link instead of spending the lesson watching a video.
When you think about it, children are being exposed to technology from a very young age, and although there are studies out there that will argue whether this aids the development of life skills or whether it actually has a negative impact on behaviour (but I’ll leave Jo Frost and the EU to argue that one out) surely the correct use of technology can only enhance the classroom experience?
There are already some companies based in South Wales that are making huge leaps and bounds in this area. Careers Wales for example are constantly developing cutting edge online systems to aid young people in making decisions about their future and the International Baccalaureate have a very strong team of developers and online learning specialists based in their Cardiff office who are continually striving to create fun and exciting online learning environments that are benefiting students in more than 122 countries.
Learning doesn’t have to be a one sided lecture, at least, not all the time! There is a whole wealth of information that the majority of the country now has access to thanks to the internet and more and more schools need to find a way of harnessing the latest technologies to engage with students. Not that I am saying that technology can ever replace the experience of talking to someone face to face. I for one am a firm believer that nothing can beat getting people together in a room to talk and learn from each other but with companies such as Promethean developing their incredible interactive white board technology and supporting an international, lively online teaching community it’s important that schools make room for both.
As a final note, fun and dynamic learning isn’t just for kids! If you’re available on Thursday 4 March why not come along to Ignite Cardiff at the Wales Millennium Centre where I’ll be presenting a handful of intelligent, witty and hopefully slightly educational speakers on subjects from community photography projects to salt! All the information is available on the Ignite Cardiff website – I hope to see you there.