Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Learning is an activity that begins in childhood and continues for a life time. The most important period of learning is the years spent at school. Until quite recently, schools were the places where schooling took place and teachers were the specialists who delivered the information. However, with the advent of technology and especially the internet, that is beginning to change: although teachers are the best guides, students can do a lot more on their own especially if they are older.

In primary school, children are right at the start of the journey and have nothing to fall back on. The whole school experience is completely new so they need plenty of guidance from the teacher who will instruct them in basic reading and writing skills and the like. Yet even at this stage, technology is introduced and flipped learning is practiced: smart boards have replaced black boards and students do a lot preparation on their own with the computer before class thus sharpening their computer skills in preparation for the years to come. Independence comes with age and proficiency: the older a learner is and the more mature he is the more he can do on his own. Claiming that children should learn on their own, in a state of nature, is misguided and downright dangerous.

In secondary school, the students are older, more adept at using the computer, familiar with the opportunities presented on the internet and ready to strike out on their own. In the modern classroom the teacher should be more like a facilitator and let students take control. Projects requiring targeted research involving the capabilities of the internet can raise intellectual curiosity and promote active learning. With all the apps and web sites available today and all the lectures on the internet requiring students to listen to one person, the teacher, to the exclusion of all this is the sign of an ego the size of a football pitch. In a world where some of the best known experts, the best lecturers and celebrities post their material on for example, it is foolish to insist that the teacher knows best.

At university level, the tables are being turned at a more radical level: there are completely online universities like; the best universities offer courses online free of charge on courser or edX. This egalitarian, humanistic and democratic venture is making tertiary education possible for the masses no matter where they live. This doesn’t mean the university in the classic sense is dead; it is not as evidenced by all the good universities catering to millions of students but it does mean that the classic system now has a rival competing with it.

In short, there are far more opportunities in terms of education in the modern world, and denying this is impossible. The old fashioned classroom is changing and technology is creeping in bringing with it all the opportunities provided by the World Wide Web. Students are also changing and sharing the role of the teacher who in turn is learning to stand back and share the teaching experience. The world of the future will make education even more exciting.

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