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Building The Classroom of the Future
Building The Classroom of the Future: Why Tech Will Be An Asset and a game changer for Education
Dr Andrew Hobbs, Chief Operations Officer of the UK’s biggest children’s home-learning support provider, Exemplar Education, explores how AI will reshape the learning environment of the future.
Few issues have captured the public’s consciousness as much as AI and the rise of the robots and what it could mean for the job market of the future. The speed at which technology is evolving is faster than anyone could have imagined and with that comes an overarching sense of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of our hard-earned skill sets growing redundant, fear of everyday tasks being replaced by AI all together.
The anxiety surrounding the impact of AI does not come without warrant. The Office for National Statistics recently revealed that over 1.5 million jobs will fall into that category of uncertainty in the next ten years.
But with one in five teachers expecting to leave the classroom within two years and a further two-fifths wanting to quit by 2024, according to a poll by the National Education Union, it seems the threat of redundancy as a result of AI is just another concern to add to a growing list of workplace pressures for teachers.
With respondents citing excessive workloads and tough accountability practices, the poll gave incisive insights into the most pressing challenges facing the system. When asked “what would be the one thing that would make your job better in the next 12 months?” respondents pointed to a stronger work-life balance with a less excessive workload and a reduced focus on assessments and marking. Surely then we should be pulling out all the stops to retain our talented teachers and looking more positively at the technical innovations that will make a major mark on the classroom of the future. While policymakers can look towards simplifying and reducing the admin pressures confronting teachers; any review which fails to consider technical innovation and how it could re-imagine the classroom of the future, could only ever work in the short-term.
Many teachers feel under pressure on a day to day basis, there’s no denying that, which makes it ever more important that they feel supported and appreciated. A teacher’s success in the classroom has the power to single-handedly transform our children and their futures. With technology ever evolving it is imperative that the teachers and the education system evolve as well, so the role of the teacher is not diminished.
While we should never look to the future with rose tinted glasses, we should be looking at the positive changes that a more technical world can bring to the classroom of the future. A compelling PricewaterhouseCoopers report suggested that AI would be more of an asset to the UK economy that previously imagined, creating 7.2M extra jobs - easily offsetting the 7M jobs it displaces. The firm estimates that the education sector could benefit from 200,000 extra jobs.
Technology and teaching should not be pitted against each other as they go hand-in-hand and will continue to do so for many years to follow. Change is challenging for most people; it always has been, and it always will be. But technology in the classroom shouldn’t be seen as a force of evil, but rather as a tool. A tool to support teachers and allow them to continue to do the jobs that robots or technology simply can’t do – empathise, connect and work with children to get the best out of them. There is no denying that AI will have an impact on the economy, but in regard to learning, I believe that the advancements will only work to re-emphasise the importance of a teacher’s role in their classroom. Through my work at Exemplar Education, I have seen first-hand how combining technology and traditional teaching enhance a child’s learning.
Rather than replacing teachers, robots and AI could free up their time by handling the jobs that a teacher doesn’t need to be doing - the more administrative-based tasks. If we can utilise technology on these repetitive or time-consuming tasks, such as routine marking, reporting and record keeping, it will ensure that teachers are freed up to get on with actual teaching and not zapped by the baggage that comes with it.
There is every reason for us as a profession to embrace technological advancement in our sector with confidence.
About Exemplar Education
Exemplar Education is the largest UK supplier of high quality, affordable, supplementary home-based maths and English education. Starting in 1991, Exemplar Education has developed and refined the use of home-learning to supplement and support schoolwork in maths, English and reading, from Year 1 to GCSE and now have over 350 people working from 6 locations across the UK. Over 400,000 children in the UK have registered on Exemplar Education programmes.