Could Educational Technology Replace Traditional Schools in the Future?

Could Educational Technology Replace Traditional Schools in the Future?

John K. Hope (University of Auckland, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7365-4.ch021
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This chapter begins by quoting Professor Wilcox noting that little had changed in schooling over the past 500 years. This chapter provides examples of how the world has changed due to globalization and e-learning becoming mainstream, the changing needs and aspirations of the current generation of learners, and the rapid development of new technologies to assist learning. All of the examples quoted suggest that traditional face-to-face schooling will change. The economic and social survival of nations depends on the quality of education of its people, so some form of compulsory schooling will be needed, be it virtual or not.
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The scenario portrayed above is also visible in the compulsory schooling sector where the majority of compulsory education still occurs in classrooms with a teacher, but it could be argued that technology-induced change is already occurring. Information and communication technology has penetrated even the most remote schools in developed countries and is infiltrating schools in some of the least developed countries in the world. Futurists have predicted the demise of many brick and mortar universities resulting from the affordances of technology that allow learning to occur anytime, anywhere and in whatever format the learner desires. What of bricks and mortar schools? The growth of virtual education is not limited to adult education, schools are already incorporating virtual education into their educational programmes and some parents are opting for home based virtual education in preference to traditional schooling. Marketing of educational technology has attracted some of the biggest names in business and the education market has become an important component of the world economy, so change is inevitable.

The presence of technology in a classroom should not be seen as an indicator of change in the learning process; the early use of computers in schools was merely replacing teacher instruction with computer instruction, termed programmed learning. In both cases the instruction was top down, based on the view that the teacher or computer programmer was the font of knowledge whose task was to deliver information for the student to memorise. This instructional process can be useful for the delivery of some learning, such as presenting factual information, but the exponential growth of knowledge resulting since the computer revolution began, and the ease of access to that knowledge via technology, makes knowledge transmission possible without the need for a teacher in a classroom. It is easier to keep a computer up to date with the latest knowledge than to keep a teacher up to date. So what is driving changes to the form of schooling as it has traditionally been known?

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