The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) Building Schools for the Future (BSF) initiative has many challenges to meet its objectives. The role of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) in education has been well documented and the inclusion of ICT in the BSF initiative is a key element to meeting the education needs of the 21st Century.
The emphasis on personalised learning is a key principle underlying recent educational initiatives. Personalised learning is about tailoring education to ensure that every pupil reaches their full potential, one of the aims of the “Five-Year Strategy for Children and Learners”, DfES, July 2004.
Flexible, cost effective and well planned ICT design is required to meet the pedagogical needs of learners and to enable teachers and administrative staff in education institutions work effectively.
The need is for:
- Anytime, anywhere learning – both within the school and in the wider community
- Personalised learning where each learner can deepen their knowledge at their own pace and using their learning style, with the help of learner-centered 1-1 mobile computing
- Flexible learning spaces – moving beyond “traditional” classroom models towards learner-centered spaces conducive to collaboration and mentoring
Learning solutions need to provide more that standarised progression and teach to the test. Rich activity-based knowledge deepening and knowledge creation activities require learner-centered 1-1 models with high levels of mobility.
Critics of ICT have argued that using ICT may drive and accelerate a standardisation approach. Others may argue that ICT fosters or even drives an open-ended learner centric and personalised model of learning. ICT does not in itself drive either approach: ICT is a tool and resource to support and facilitate whichever approach is adopted.
Tethered desk and thin client models may be highly limiting. 1-1 mobile computing with a strong set of software tools and content will support higher order knowledge deepening, knowledge creation and problem solving. This will provide learners with a positive and unlimited learning potential and the resources to develop 21st century skills.
A complementary paper entitled “Building Schools for the Future: ICT Enablement” looks at the technology involved and a strategic approach to ICT purchasing.
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