When it comes to training infants and giving them the best education, all new development seems appetizing. The use of new technologies is seen as the ‘panacea’ that will bring a new generation of super-citizens. Of course, the fact is that technological advances and real applications rarely go together so well.
For several years, we have been witnessing the unstoppable rise of tablets as tools for content consumption and a growing association with the classroom seems inevitable (hurrah!). Tablets may still raise problems however, such as the incorrect use of technology, which generates dynamics which only worsen the collective experience of both students and teachers. For example:
- Overuse of technology may lead to children becoming isolated as small “hikikomori“, young recluses who do not relate to their peers.
- Teachers who may not understand the electronic reports and therefore won’t decode the information offered to them without proper training, will be unaware of their students’ actions
- Poor content that cannot be customized by teachers or students, will leave them unable to communicate clearly; “How do I say that this is not included on the test?”, “How do I stress the importance of this paragraph?”
- A lack of face-to-face interaction could lead to problems in monitoring activities; “What content have they liked more?” “How are they using the content given to them?”
- Inefficient (and limiting) infrastructure such as slow internet connections, will cause content to load slowly
Can we do something to improve the situation? Are there technologies available to companies and institutions to enable them to create a new formats of coursework, which provide creative and efficient solutions? The answer is yes (again hurrah!) Engineering a highly collaborative environment where content is king, allows us to extract useful and predictive data, highlighting areas for improvement and allowing us to create better content than ever before.
A good example of this is the “T-Didacta” project. In September 2014, Netex received a subsidised loan to develop content to solve all these problems holistically. The project was funded by the Ministry of Industry, within the National Plan for Scientific Research, Technological Development and Innovation 2013-2016 (reference number TSI-100600-2014-31).
T-Didacta encourages collaborative work based learning by providing tools that enable teachers to regain control of the class, customise training, personalise content, ensure each student achieves their full potential as a school leaver and improve classroom technology infrastructure. Nothing less.
Luckily, we already had the technology to do all this. The challenge was to to put it all together. The T-Didacta project reuses components of ongoing projects to meet its objectives. This is based on three pillars:
- Collaborative Activities.
- Class management through the content.
- Learning Analytics
This format is used to achieve well-defined learning objectives, with activities that are audience-oriented, practical, entertaining, easy to view and access and are fully traceable. They are all created from templates containing collaborative and intelligent features with the ability to be used in the classroom and remotely.
Class management through the content.
If the teacher and students need to spend a good part of their time with a book, why are we forced to constantly enter and exit the learning environment? It makes management complex. All the teachers’ and students’ needs can be managed by the content itself: the groups, assessments, activities. We are facing a new concept of a self-organized book that synergises with learning environments in a natural way.
This engine allows analysing all actions and activities in the classroom, generating feedback that makes predictions of levels of progress, performance, and productivity, possible. The engine creates recommendations to students and teachers, thereby highlighting harmful behavioural or dynamic activity early on.
So, in short, if we combine these parts and we add further connectivity for classrooms at a very low cost, we obtain a system that streamlines collaborative tasks whilst creating content designed specifically for your environment. This enables teachers to work in real time with students and their chosen content. The end result is an environment that allows detailed study of the dynamics of the class, its trends, its behaviours and its reactions. An environment which also highlights possible problems, which involves parents in the process and also suggests courses of action to avoid falling into ostracism and failure.
Maybe it’s too early to tell, but we may be facing a new approach to learning in class which utilises all the advantages that digital media has to offer.