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Future classroom will be virtual and taught by robots

A new Jisc survey reveals surprising predictions for the classroom of the future

Posted by Hannah Oakman | June 28, 2016 | Technology

A new survey by Jisc – the not-for-profit organisation for digitals services and solutions for higher, further education and skills – has revealed some surprising predictions for the classroom of the future for schools, universities and colleges alike.

The survey found that in five years’ time 20% of respondents believe that learning will be done through virtual reality, while a quarter think teaching will be delivered remotely by tutors who might be thousands of miles away.

Perhaps more surprisingly is the potential emergence of robots in the role of teacher or lecturer. When asked about whether they expect to see robots delivering lessons, 7% are confident that this will happen in the next five years, rising to 11% for ten years’ time. Almost a fifth (18%) think it will be reality in 20 years. 

Other findings show the expectation of how tests will be delivered. 33% think that in five years, test will be taken in an app or virtual environment, with results immediately submitted, logged and ranked. 30% believe that technological advancements will mean that within five years new examination methods will be the norm, with students being allowed to take smart phones/devices into exams, to test their research skills. 

With technology playing an increasing role in everyday lives, it follows that many respondents recognise the vital role of digital skills. 20% agree that knowing how to use technology will become just as important as traditional subjects like languages when it comes to getting a job in the next year. A further 34% believe this will happen within five years.

Today’s primary school pupils have grown up around technology, often using it both at school and in the home. This could be why they are more accepting of technology being used to enhance education

The survey Canvassed the opinions of 1,000 people in the UK (aged 18 to over 65, and both in and out of education).

Martin Hamilton, futurist at Jisc, said: “The power of technology undoubtedly opens up new benefits as it continues to develop and integrate into the classroom. We are already starting to see learners go on virtual field trips with technologies like Google Expeditions and the Open University’s Open Science Laboratory. History lessons of the future could involve students ‘visiting’ Egypt via augmented reality to see the pyramids being built. The possibilities really are endless” 

Age appears to be a determining factor in how likely you are to believe technology will change teaching and learning practices, with younger generations more certain that technology’s role in education is set to grow.  For example, when asked about when they expect all learning to be carried out online, 31% of 55 to 64-year-olds and 37% of those aged 65 and over, thought this would never happen. Conversely, 67% of 18 year olds thought all learning will be carried out online within 20 years, and 40% of 19-20 year olds were certain that a shift to online learning will happen within the next 5 years. 

Martin Hamilton added: “Today’s primary school pupils have grown up around technology, often using it both at school and in the home. This could be why they are more accepting of technology being used to enhance education. A key question for us now going forwards is how colleges and universities need to adapt to meet the needs of these Young Digital Makers, as a recent Nesta report described them.” 

Representatives from Jisc and other sector experts will be discussing education technology and sharing tips at its series of free Connect more events, which will be taking place in cities across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales this summer. Delegates will also be able to try out new technology at the Digi Lab, from robotics to virtual reality and mobile technologies.

Visit the webpage to find out more or book a place

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