Is the internet killing the classroom?

Internet of Things ‘tidal wave’ incoming, says Cisco
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Technology in schools is improving at such a fast pace that it may leave classrooms in the dust.

The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT, or devices connected online) will mean students will take part in more ‘live lessons’ using online video and other platforms in the future, without the need for classrooms, says Sarah Eccleston, director of enterprise networks and IoT at Cisco UK and Ireland.

“If you look very far into the future, the first thing we can say about the classroom of the future is it may not even be a room,” she told PCR. “It can become much more of a virtual learning environment in which you can use video much more greatly.

“So rather than teaching 25 people in exactly the same way, there could be one topic but 100,000 pupils that learn it in the way that suits them from a library of content.

“The connection of everything to the internet will happen in the classroom as it happens in other areas of the community. It’s at the stage at the moment where it’s starting to happen and it will be a tidal wave. But it hasn’t happened yet and we can’t predict when that tidal wave will come.”

Eccleston says that pupils and the classroom will be connected to the internet, with experts being able to connect remotely and teach, and pupils able to watch the content anytime – for example if they are housebound or want to revise. Other external spaces can also connect with schools, for example museums or archeological dig sites that students can access and learn from.

“You can start to do better project work, students can do knowledge building with social media tools, so home study groups can start to form, and if there aren’t any in a local area, they can be based on peer groups over much bigger distances. So all of that will start to form and really provide a much more enriched learning experience,” she added.

However, Steve Woollett, Cisco’s head of collaboration for the public sector in Ireland, says technology shouldn’t detract from the fundamentals of learning – and should improve a student’s time within the classroom.

“It’s about finding the ways in which children best learn and how technology can be assisting that in schools,” he commented.

“Often you see technology for technology’s sake, but we are advocates of it being applicable and not a barrier. It should be fun to learn with and should improve the learning experience.”

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