What’s trending in edtech? Part 3

In the final instalment, Martin McKay discusses the flipped classroom and why the UK is plummeting down the PISA rankings

Part 3 of 3

Martin McKay, Chief Technology Officer of Texthelp Ltd, specialises in the development of technology for English language learners and struggling readers and writers. In this three-part series, he discusses the top 7 worldwide trends in educational technology coming soon to a school, college or university near you…

The flipped classroom

The flipped classroom – a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed and short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions – will continue to grow in education in the next 3-5 years. 

One of the greatest benefits of ‘flipping’ is that the level of interaction between teacher and student, and student and student, increases dramatically. The teacher is no longer the ‘sage on the stage’ presenting the content to students, rather they spend their time talking with students, answering questions, working with small groups, and guiding the learning of each learner individually. 

22% of children in the US don’t speak English at home, so their parents are unable to support them educationally. Send a child home with a computer and get them to consume content in video and they can return to school and solve problems by doing homework in classroom. 

Invest in educational technology or plummet down the PISA[1] rankings

Why is the UK plummeting down the PISA rankings? Because we are living in the dark ages – as a country we lack the bigger picture thinking about technology formerly provided by government agencies such as BECTA and our next generation of learners are entering the knowledge economy ill equipped to compete with students from emerging countries such as South Korea.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the recent PISA rankings where emerging countries such as South Korea and Singapore are rocketing up the league tables as a result of major investment in new technology and infrastructures which have enabled school children nationwide to access cloud based educational resources from low cost hardware devices such as Chromebooks. 

What do we need to do in the UK? To maintain and improve our position in the PISA rankings it’s imperative that major investment be made in wifi and connectivity in schools similar to JANET in the higher education sector. This will enable all learners to access the wealth of first class educational content that exists on the cloud anytime, anywhere.

Lack of investment in technology is inhibiting our progress as a nation. In the Victorian era, Britain led the world in science and engineering – in technology we are not. We need to get our next generation of workers curious about IT, programming and robotics and instil unstoppable passion to get them firmly hooked at an early age. 

Universal Design for Learning

In the US, Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is being embraced – an educational framework based on research in the learning sciences, including cognitive neuroscience that guides the development of flexible learning environments that can accommodate individual learning differences.

In the UK, architects are not allowed to design a public building without wheelchair access or braille on the lift buttons, so why are we as a nation so slow to embrace Universal Design in educational software development?

I believe it is a question of economies of scale. In the US, state-wide purchasing of content is making it cost-effective for major publishers such as Pearson to incorporate important features that provide access for all students – e.g. those who have English as a second language and literacy difficulties. 

What do we need to do in the UK? Introduce purchasing frameworks that demand that all developers embrace Universal Design for Learning.

Read part 1 of Martin’s blog here: https://edtechnology.co.uk/Blogs/whats_trending_in_edtech

Read part 2 of Martin’s blog here: https://edtechnology.co.uk/Blogs/whats_trending_in_edtech_part_2 

[1] PISA is a league table which shows how well 15 year olds performed in tests in reading, science and maths

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