Sunday, 26 July 2009

Articles from my other life...part 2

Here's an article that I've done for work for a building magazine. Enjoy.

Education for the Future

Over the last 10 years technology and the Internet has changed significantly and is still constantly evolving. There’s been a huge rise in the use of the world wide web and it’s now commonplace for young people to spend their spare time using social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace while their school day is spent surfing the Internet to research information for GCSEs. For them, the net has become a way of life, a way of receiving and researching information that helps them make choices about their life. Every day, new applications, software and ways of using the Internet hit the market – and every day young people make choices about how they will use this information in their lives.

Schools are at the forefront of working with children and young people to understand some of the challenges this new technology brings. With all young people able to access the same information from different sources on the Internet it could have implications on what they learn and could change the way they are taught, especially with access available anywhere at any time. It is also important to understand how using social networking sites to organise lives outside of school impacts on parents and how it also opens up opportunities for jobs on the other side of the world without even having to step out of their front door.

There are significant challenges which face schools as they change to meet the demands of the 21st century. These range from the role of the teacher as the source of information , to recognising the way that information is now global and available 24 hours a day. The skills and jobs of today will not be the skills and jobs of tomorrow. Young people need to have the critical skills to help them use the Internet to enhance their lives and they need to have the tools which support them to do this in a way which is safe. Schools need to have systems which talk to each other, that support learning through robust and speedy infrastructure which can pipe knowledge and information across classrooms and across homes.

Technology can be a catalyst to exploring what teaching and learning can be in the new century and can provide a new range of skills which enable young people to prepare for new jobs and careers. Technology can provide personalised approaches which enable learners to progress at their own speed in a way which interests them and engages them in the subject. In Southampton, Mouchel has been working with schools and pupils to begin to map out what schools of the future could be like through a series of interactive workshops which asked school students what makes good schools and what makes good learning. At the same time, we’ve been working with school leaders to understand their needs and to explore the type of technology that could work for them.

These workshops are part of the work Mouchel does with schools, colleges and local authorities to help them map out a vision which will transform teaching and learning. making schools centres of excellence for the 21st century. Using a range of different techniques, Mouchel works with young people in schools, school leaders and local authorities to create blueprints for what they want from new buildings and learning environments. We help them take that vision and shape it into a technical model that uses the best ICT advice to map out a solution for the school and local authority. Mouchel brings procurement expertise to make sure schools and local authorities get the best deals, that technology is up to date and relevant and that schools can focus on teaching and learning rather than fixing the kit.

Mouchel’s expertise covering academies, schools, the Building Schools for the Future programme and colleges means we understand the importance of learning in developing solutions for education and know that a focus on the student is critical in getting the best out of the technology. Our work with local communities through projects such as the rollout of broadband, means we know technology is not just the wires and cables, but is at the core of equipping our communities and futureproofing them for the challenges of the future. Our approach of ‘learning led technically expert’ solutions, means we believe technology in education can make a huge difference to changing the life chances of children, young people and their families.

Although we don’t know all the challenges that our young people will face in the future, we do know technology will be a critical tool in helping them meet that challenge. Working as an approved supplier under the BECTA framework, Mouchel is helping our schools and local authorities rise to that challenge.

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