This report in the Sunday Times (paywalled) is cheering indeed. Matthew Hancock is promoting the idea that computers can handle the content side of education whilst teachers do the bit only they can do – mentoring, coaching and motivating. Many readers of this blog have been moving this way for years, so the true surprise is only that it has taken the powers that be so long to catch up.
For all of us at Yacapaca, this is a huge validation of what we have been working on for the past 7 years. Before we get too excited, though, let’s remember what a damp squib VLEs were and ask what needs to happen in order for this initiative not to go the same way.
Here are a couple of choice quotes:
It’s amazing that technology and the internet have changed so much of our lives, but so many classes taught in schools and colleges are still done the way they were done 100 years ago.
Yes, it is amazing. Particularly so because schools have access to all the same technology as the rest of us. If it were as simple as throwing technology at the classroom, we’d be a nation of rocket scientists by now. So why has that not happened?
If I had to point at one culprit, it would be the 30-student classroom. 30 is a deeply unhandy number; too big for meaningful 1:1 interaction with the teacher, unnecessarily small for cost-effective supervision. No school will effectively embrace computer-based learning unless it breaks out of the class-of-30 straightjacket and starts grouping students differently according to whether they are interacting with technology or teachers.
Technology is a tool to empower teachers so they can concentrate on motivation and character
Yes. Agree. Totally. So now let’s measure motivation and character and let teachers see when they are developing these and when not. Otherwise it’s hot air.
July 2016 update
Matthew Hancock just got shunted out of the DfE and into the Department for Culture, Media and Sport where he can’t do any harm. There’s a surprise.