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Today’s school students are never more than a few clicks away from knowing the answer to any mathematical, historical or scientific question. But what does it mean for students’ learning and development as they increasingly come to rely on everything but their initiative? Modern day classrooms must be the frontline of learning and innovation if they’re to compete with the internet; and teachers must work harder than ever to develop young, enquiring minds in an age where technology does a lot of the thinking for them.
Ben Grundy completed an education degree at Deakin University and now works as an educational technology coach. He says that while technology has played a major role in changing education, additional techniques are still important. Virtual reality products like Google Pioneer allow teachers to transport students to countless locations around the world, but leading educators enhance the learning experience through social interaction, not just tech tools.
‘One of the overriding factors in education is empowering students to be active learners within their world,’ Grundy explains. It’s proof that knowing how to use Google will never be enough. We must develop other skills required to evolve with the world.
Of course, students need to learn technology-led skills such as coding, a subject that many schools are beginning to prioritise. But initiatives like The Genius Hour are helping to set aside time in the school day for students to explore and connect to their passions as well. Students are free to build, write and create whatever they choose in this set time, injecting imagination into their day.
'In order to be successful in the future, we need to know how to adapt to different challenges, be technology literate and have the social skills to connect with others to solve problems.'
Education graduate, Deakin University
Grundy points out that teachers should always seek out innovative curriculum alternatives: ‘Knowledge is no longer the only key to success. Schools and governments that maintain the status quo of teaching isolated subjects that cover a textbook of knowledge are failing their students,’ he argues.
Dr Gaye Williams, senior lecturer in Deakin University’s Faculty of Arts and Education recently co-authored a piece in The Conversation, highlighting the importance of schools to invite scientists, mathematicians and technology experts to really engage students in STEM subjects. Deakin University provides global classroom opportunities to allow its education and teaching students to get into schools quicker, so they can learn from experience, rather than textbooks. Grundy says this is crucial to continually engage and develop students.
In order for teachers to be innovative, they need time to test and learn with real life student groups and forge strong relationships to gain insights from the field. ‘If your students aren’t pushing you to be more innovative, then my guess is they are either pushing your buttons or the ones on their phone screens under the desk,’ Grundy concludes.
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