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The future of education: Education – integrated with technology yet Beyond technology

04 March 2020
Over the last two weeks, pupils, parents and teachers have all become increasingly familiar with the term E-learning. However, studying via the internet, computers, and various online learning platforms has been steadily increasing in popularity over the last decade. About 33% of US college students are taking at least one course online, according to a recent survey by the Babson Survey Research Group. The growth in computer-based learning is linked to the increasing availability, reliability and speed of internet connections. When I was at school or even university, it was unthinkable that pupils and teachers could undertake E-learning courses from around the world using their mobile phone or laptop computers. But as grade 7 learned last semester, the internet has fundamentally changed the way institutions and businesses operate. The growth in the sector of E-learning looks set to continue and will further break down geographic barriers while allowing pupils to pursue their studies in different ways that best suit them. Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence will offer education new and exciting ways to enthuse and excite pupils. There have even been predictions that in decades to come, robots will take over the job of teaching pupils. There have recently been newspaper stories about robots being programmed to be able to mark essays to an amazing degree of accuracy. Big data has been used in education to identify specific gaps in knowledge that a pupil might have and plan questions and activities to fill that gap.Schools are already changing the way they deliver lessons by incorporating emerging technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR). Instead of using a textbook to learn about the human heart, with a virtual reality headset, pupils can actually see the human heart, walk around it and explore how it links to other parts of the body. Another trend in education is the ”gamification” of learning. At the end of last semester, grade 6 were learning the python programming language by playing Code Combat, a platform style computer game. This type of learning is fun and has been shown to increase motivation in pupils. E-learning offers learning opportunities for pupils, it allows anyone to learn anything, anywhere in the world, provided you have an internet connection. Many learning platforms offer their services and very cheaply or even for free. For example, the extremely popular app Duolingo can teach you a variety of languages and it charges you nothing. Likewise, millions of people have learned programming by using websites such as code.org or Code Academy. Furthermore, E-learning promotes independence and self-discipline in any learner. I’m sure for some families this can be testing, since there can be many distractions at home. But as pupils practice, they will increase their ability to problem solve independently and this will likely benefit them in the long term. During the last week, I have had interactions with pupils from the junior high school, and the maturity of their questions and the quality of the work that they have produced has amazed me. Sometimes, it is during at the most testing times that we see great achievements and maturity shine through. The junior high school fundraising achievement is a huge credit to the pupils of Huili school. Of course, there are difficulties with E-learning specifically with younger pupils, they may miss the social interactions of the classroom. Not having a set routine is a challenge or they might be missing the presence of a teacher who can provide them with immediate feedback and answers to their questions. Pupils may become demotivated and require praise and rewards. As parents, I am sure there are times when you are tired of being the teacher! Don’t forget that it is important to give children regular breaks and manage your expectations regarding their ability to concentrate independently when they self-study at home. This E-learning experiment has offered pupils and teachers at Huili the unique opportunity to experiment with different structures and methods of delivering education. The virus and the subsequent reliance on E-learning courses were totally unexpected for everyone and for that reason may have taken some parents, pupils and teachers out of their comfort zone. Some may have adapted well to self learning while others may have found it a great challenge. Whatever our experience, we can learn lessons about the way teaching and learning takes place. It gives us the opportunity to reflect on our own pedagogy and practice. It allows us to explore new online learning platforms and resources and makes us think more creatively about the way we teach and pupils learn. This is the first time we have all encountered a situation like Covid-19. For the teachers of Huili, our primary concern is that you and your families are all safe, well and happy. Please continue to email us any questions that you may have regarding our E-learning curriculum and we will endeavour to make the experience worthwhile for you and your children.

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The Huili School Shanghai Community is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of its pupils.