Open Discovery Space

Education Secretary Michael Gove’s series of reforms in British education have touched on exam structure, the curriculum to education technology as part of the coalition government’s ongoing plans to make drastic changes to education in Britain. Researchers and IT experts have mapped possible developments for the future of education, and the improvements that can be made to student and teacher performance. Many have inferred that Cloud technology is the future. Tablet computers and mobile technology are the vehicles that allow information to be transported to users via portable hand held devices, which are useful for nomadically active young people and teachers on the go. However, these advances in smart technology did not exist four years ago, and so we do not know what there will be to replace it in the next four years. The focus is more on accessible and collaborative learning and social teaching on a local and global scale. Technology is intricately complicated, too much can go wrong when it is enforced on the ground. Cloud technology prevents the errors in technology that can be costly to financially struggling schools, and silences critics who argue that correcting mishaps in technology during times of austerity is a drain on the public purse. Teachers will not need to download software or install local storage for filing; all they will need is a fast broadband connection with a good infrastructure put into place. Cloud is therefore economical, requires little resources and ‘futureproofs’ teaching and learning material and resources. Teachers can use Cloud to collect data and grade work online, whilst students can have instant access to grades, comments and work. The benefits of storage are noticed by rival companies operating in the marketplace, such as Edmodo, the Education Social Network that offers its services for free. The main crux of Cloud technology used specifically in education is to ensure that information is easily accessible instantaneously in any location or at any time. Students can exchange and share information provided by their teachers or the informational sources they are directed to wirelessly between their peers, allowing them to expand on their existing knowledge.

Arguably, Cloud technology can also improve student performance and ameliorate the structure of education holistically. For example, Cloud encourages independent learning. Students gain research skills such as independently collecting information from online resources available in a methodological manner and making calculative conclusions from it, rather than being simply dictated to by a teacher in lecture style. Moreover, students can gain valuable digital skills through the exposure and familiarisation of software programmes and hardware, which can in turn make them workplace ready. Collaborative and interactive learning can also be achieved with Cloud. For instance, integrating classroom study with Google Apps can allow more than one person to work on one document in the same room or across the world. Teachers can get involved in seamless learning, by choosing whether study should be individualistic or interactive with supplementary learning devices such as podcasts and videos that can infuse creativity within the existing classroom template. The advantages of Cloud mean that students gather all together a tool kit of occupational and social skills. Nonetheless, there still exists a thanatocratic devotion to traditional principles by some teachers. It is down to decision makers to convince those teachers less technologically savvy of the merits of education technology that digital natives of the current generation enjoy.

The developments made in Cloud technology is of importance to decision makers working in partnership with Open Discovery Space, as its benefits can facilitate improvements in student performance and teacher productivity. Cloud’s easy applicability and cost effectiveness is an added incentive for elected officials.

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