Since the 1980s, much has been said of the educational potential of digital technologies, both within the classroom and beyond. Many pioneering teachers have made the development of new computer-based methods their pet project, whilst at the same time digital technologies have steadily become a ubiquitous feature of modern education, regardless of subject or phase. However, in spite of the progress that has been made, many teachers remain deeply sceptical as to the educational potential of digital technology, believing it to be at best oversold, at worst a tool of management control.
With the coronavirus crisis, however, much of this discussion has been sidelined, as for the first time in school history nearly all England’s schools and colleges are by necessity scrambling to move their entire pedagogic operation online. As such, it might be said that we are currently in the middle of a massive near whole population testing of the educational potential of digital teaching technologies.
Experiences so far have understandably been varied. Many teachers have responded well to this uniquely challenging set of circumstances, showing both creativity and resolve in their use of digital technology. Others have reported that there is simply no substitute for the rich forms of pedagogic interaction that are made possible by tutoring in the flesh, whilst a smaller number of parents and teachers have started to express concerns over the ways in which the shift to online learning is resulting in an unwelcome schoolification of family life.
What can we learn from the crisis about the role of digital technology in education? The first ever online meeting of the Academy of Ideas Education Forum will explore this and many other questions.
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Picture: Nevit Dilmen/Wikimedia
EdTech entrepreneur, CEO of Wildfire, professor, researcher, blogger and speaker
Film studies teacher; committee member, AOI Education Forum