By Dr. Gil Dekel.
To achieve sustainable education for the future we need to adopt new ways of teaching that move away from segregating people to uniting people. Divisions in societies are created by such values as individual success of one over the other, or the belief in international competition. On the other hand, teachings that unite people emphasise understanding of our global interdependencies, caring and elevating each other.
From focusing on memorising facts and following a certain lead or agenda in class, education can shift towards guiding students across different, more democratized areas of information, supporting growth, learning and personal development. Providing students with tools to navigate information safely and critically can help them lead their individual learning journey, in a more tailored and inclusive way.
Digital education can offer such tools for democratic teachings that support sustainable schools. Remote online classes, for example, can help school teachers cater for variety of learning needs and personal circumstances, hence increase inclusivity.
The world is already entering a digital-era of working; a trend accelerated by Covid-19. As digital education is becoming critical, future learning will require more digital competences. We need to increase access as well as skills development in the use of technologies so that future students are equally prepared for learning. We also need to adapt, accept, and use existing opportunities presented with technologies. One opportunity is the trend of digital products becoming smaller, more organic, and simpler, yet at the same time more powerful with ample of built-in features. Mobile phones are an example. They are much smaller than a physical classroom, a computer or an iPad, yet they can connect to a worldwide online community and teaching platforms, and perform multitude tasks.
While physical classroom relies on physical presence, digital classrooms can operate from anywhere which is connected, and at any time. If students are stuck at home and cannot attend a physical class, they could still attend a class streamed online. Online classes can also maintain teaching environment that is akin to one-on-one support in school setting, while allowing for a sense of personal space and pace of learning. A good number for interaction is 6-8 students in a classroom. In most physical classes the actual number of learners is circa 28. Yet, in online class, teachers can simulate the experience of a small group, even if the class is larger, since each student watches the teacher directly on the screen. If teachers use this correctly, creating more interactive presentations, then students can engage directly and feel that they receive one-to-one tailored tutorial online.
With digital learning, teachers can also:
- use chats with students,
- refer to work submitted individually,
- tailor work to students by their level, which can be difficult to achieve in a physical class.
There are also benefits in regard to team work. In a physical class it may not be easy to separate students into different groups working in the same classroom. Online, teachers can create rooms that offer privacy for groups. Students can also take a moment to sit quietly with themselves, and then come back to the group. Faster students can have the space to ‘be and do’, while the others catch-up. This promotes personal work and group work at the same time.
Incorporating extra digital materials, videos, questionnaires, and quizzes, can provide analytics for assessing students’ works, and scoring instant results in team work, which would otherwise require filling-up forms manually. Digital tools allow students to self-check and provide tailored assessments. Learning branched scenarios can progress based on immediate assessment of students’ level.
Digital learning tools can also automate processes to support teachers, such as signing-in to online class which automatically notes students’ attendance. Digital tools can trigger automatic mark or reward for submissions, meaning that no-one is left behind or forgotten. Each student can feel appreciated. In physical face-to-face class this is not easy to achieve.
Online education has a surprising effect that supports the status of teachers, and team work. Students have to agree to respect each other, as it is impossible that everyone speaks at the same time, over each other, online. Likewise, participants have to listen and respect the teacher. A ‘tantrum’ that can occur in physical classroom, can be dealt online by switching off the microphone of the offender and attending to their issue later. Such tantrums cannot hinge on the progress of online lessons.
Digital tools also support students’ critical thinking, guiding them in identifying reliable sources versus fake news. There are also considerations of future international cooperation, where students from different countries will be taught together, following geo-political changes, increased immigration and refugees’ numbers.
Dr. Gil Dekel, U101 Associate Lecturer.
Personal website: https://www.poeticmind.co.uk
9 May 2022
 UNESCO, International Commission on the Futures of Education. (2021) Reimagining our futures together: a new social contract for education. Paris: UNESCO. Electronic Paper. Page 11. Accessed 8 March 2022, from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000379707
 Evenstad, Lis. (2021) Department for Education publishes digital strategy. Computer Weekly.com. Accessed 8 March 2022, from: https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252499685/Department-for-Education-publishes-digital-strategy
 Digital Education Futures Initiative Cambridge. (n.d.) WoW Scenarios. Accessed 8 March 2022, from: https://www.deficambridge.org/scenariosplus
 European Commission. European Education Area. (n.d.) Digital education initiatives. Accessed 8 March 2022, from: https://education.ec.europa.eu/focus-topics/digital/initiatives
 Dekel, Gil., Dekel, Natalie. (2011) Introduction to Innovation in the 21st century. Accessed 9 March 2022, from https://www.poeticmind.co.uk/research/introduction-to-innovation-in-the-21st-century/
 The Department for Education. (2011) Class Size and education in England: evidence report. Accessed 9 March 2022, from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/183364/DFE-RR169.pdf
 See, for example, this design tutorial: Learning to See: What to look for when taking photographs. https://www.poeticmind.co.uk/research/learning-to-see-what-to-look-for-when-taking-photographs/
Leave a Reply