“Let’s not get IPads for our kids in future...it’s sedentary consumption and they develop bad manners”
“Depends on how you use it; just need to understand its limits so you can enjoy all its potential”
The inflection point in digital technology happened about 20 years ago, but its revolution in education is still a moderation in progress. Pundits continue to dispute over the influence of the internet over our children, and its impact on their mental development. A new report from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows a negative relationship between the frequency with which students use computers, particularly to chat online, and their reading abilities. And of course, there are the over-50 contrarians who would tell you they grew up in a time without computers, who disparage the digital era. Schools, on the other hand, are quick to adopt the language and plug their classrooms into the wired world, integrating technology into their curriculum and training their teachers to incorporate digital tools. After all, embracing technology means you are at the forefront of education innovation. However, most learning technologies today still reinforce the traditional models of instruction. A lot of it is still very much instructor or speaker-led podcasts and video downloads or slide decks, which are hardly a step change in fostering purposeful learning.
Today, we are constantly inundated with how we should tap into the learning potential of today’s social-networking, mobile generation and best educate them: if the form of learning and knowledge-making equips the next generation with the right skills to better their future. Mark Threadwell, author of Learning: How the Brain Learns proposed in his book that students need to have a shared language and opportunities to reflect on the learning process with one another, assimilating skills like making connections, establishing conceptual relationships and applying knowledge in different contexts. Interestingly, we are seeing the same needs in the corporate environment. Corporate learning & development (L&D) professionals are finding the need to re-tool L&D to re-ignite independent curiosity that has waned because of traditional schooling. Further lending clout to collaborative education is Dr. Mimi Ito, Research Director of the Digital Media and Learning Hub, University of California Humanities Research Institute, who has in her decade-long research found that most opportunities for robust independent learning come outside of traditional schooling.
All these endorsements for collaborative learning is a throwback to my personal interview with Polycom where I was literally quite star-struck to learn about Manhattan School of Music, a preeminent international conservatory of music, which uses Polycom UC to collaborate with the world’s most sought-after musicians and music educators, and extend a truly global arts education beyond its physical campus in New York to students at all levels in classrooms around the world, and at a cost that any school can afford. For those of us (me included) who took the conventional academic route because of the lack of quality arts education and resources available, it is truly heartening to see the varied opportunities for learning today; be it academic or informal networks, distance learning anytime anywhere, access to experts for augmented reality and interactive role-play, or just to hear from them real-time.
Clearly, education is no longer about lessons conducted in deference to the clock, nor restricted to fixed disciplines or locations. But while the mobile education market continues to grow with more innovative and disruptive technologies, the methodology remains, at its heart, quite traditional. In fact, I think Maria Montessori would have every reason to be happy. Her legacy appears to live on in our now emphasis on independent learning, hands-on experimentation and practical play, preparing us to be citizens of the future. And Polycom in Education, as an enabler for collaboration, offers these possibilities to anyone, anywhere.
This blog is part of a series of 25 blogs that take a look at how Polycom has transformed industries and business functions.
These blogs are a variety of retrospective, current and visionary perspectives with the common thread of unleashing the power of human collaboration. Follow the hashtag #Polycom25 on Twitter for tweets about this significant anniversary in our history.