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The revolution will be digitised

Performance Networks discusses how digital connectivity is transforming the education sector

Posted by Julian Owen | June 23, 2018 | Technology

Former students of schools or university would be amazed by the levels of classroom and lecture hall technology today.

Gone are the blackboards of yesteryear. Instead, many schools and higher education institutions are using a range of connected devices as part of a wireless revolution in the education sector.

With the growth of automation, cyber-security and AI, the role that technology will play in the education sector is already shaping a future job market. In preparation for these new advancements, schools and students will need to adapt to a constantly changing way of digital learning.

Connected from any location

Wireless networks in schools and universities have enabled students and staff access to information across large sites. This is especially important for universities spread across different campuses. Students are able to gain access to learning resources from anywhere, even from home. Staff can share information on portals, ensuring they’re up to date with key news. Homework or coursework can even be submitted online through school portals, saving teachers valuable time, too.

A Wealth of online courses

An abundance of information on online courses are now easily available as resources for both students and teachers. From websites like the Open University to Open Learn, distance learning for a variety of different subject disciplines has never been more accessible. With over 50% of the UK workforce predicted to work remotely by 2020, the growth of online courses and accessibility are encouraging online participation for students both young and old, ultimately leading to a closed skills gap and improved economy for all.

Mobile learning

A study by Common Sense Media revealed that almost half of all young children in the UK have their own tablet, and they spend over two hours a day looking at screens. It’s clear that the immersive and on-demand nature of smartphones and tablets are radically changing the way early-learners are accessing knowledge and information. In order to shape teaching and tailor preferred learning methods amongst younger students, the adoption of cloud- and app-based learning will need to be a topic of focus in years to come.

Cloud-based collaboration

Sharing documents across cloud-based apps means that students are now able to collaborate on group projects from a range of different locations and at different times, giving plenty of flexibility to the way they work. In fact, hosting information using cloud-based services even benefits the school or university, by reducing the number of servers required and using free software such as Google Apps. Essential documents for a piece of coursework can be accessed quickly, without having to trek back to the library.

Enhanced interactive learning methods

Teachers are able to bring up a YouTube clip to demonstrate a topic or play a podcast at the click of a button. Presentation software and hardware, such as interactive whiteboards, are becoming increasingly impressive. Personal and interactive learning methods are being integrated into teaching and, when combined with wireless networks in schools, allow students to experience truly engaging learning experiences.

But what are the problems?

The benefits of schools having access to wifi networks have clearly been well established over the years. But are there any downsides to the technological changes? Any myths about the safety of wifi in schools have been debunked thoroughly over the years, so the questions that remain are largely down to access and performance. Indeed, only a quarter of schools have wireless networks that are currently fit for purpose, leaving the vast majority without access to proper wifi – in many cases, without any at all. That means that only some school students are able to take advantage of the wireless revolution. That, if not properly addressed, may contribute to a UK-wide skills shortage in the future.

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