Reflections on ‘Schools and Schooling in the Digital Age’

On the 15th March, hosted by the Learning and New Media Group, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Neil Selwyn from the London Knowledge Lab presented a public lecture called ‘Schools and Schooling in the Digital Age’. He started with the premise that, as Ed tech researchers, we need to be concerned with the ‘State of the Actual’ rather than the ‘State of the Art’, implying that only by grounding our research in practice, can we progress the field forward. He outlined four ‘futures’ for schooling:

1. Isolate schools from the technological demands of society, thereby creating ‘fortress schools’ which continue to operate along the lines of 20th century schooling as we know it.

2. Use digital technologies to replicate schools in other forms eg. virtual schools, the Khan Academy etc

3. Use digital technologies to reconstruct schools around web 2.0 technologies and ’21st Century skills’

4. Use digital technology to replace schools as we know them eg the school of everything in the UK.

He believes that all of these ideas deserve serious consideration from academics, policy makers and practitioners, and that we also need to consider who in society wins or loses in each scenario. The student voice should also be considered, he says,  and any approach should be evaluated for sustainability across the teaching workforce. He finished by calling for a ‘champion’ to lead the way forward and to involve the ‘disinterested masses’, pondering whether we need a Jamie Oliver for the Ed Tech field!

So what do you think? What is the best way forward for schools of the future?

~Kath Holmes

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