Governments and schools need to change the way children are taught as technology creates more learning opportunities outside the classroom, said Anthony Salcito, Microsoft’s vice president for Education, at Bett, the education conference that took place in London this week.
“The way we think of students and the way they see themselves and their place in the world is fundamentally different,” Salcito said. “We often describe these students as ‘phygital’ – they don’t see the difference between the physical world and the digital world. They want to create, make and use digital tools in new ways.
“The way students learn, share ideas, get access to content, create and collaborate is fundamentally different. Their mindsets are different, and the workplaces we are preparing them for are different, so we have to recognise there has been a lot of change. What we’ve now got to do at a system level, the institution level, is not only embrace that change but use it in a purposeful way to drive a different dynamic in classrooms.”
Speaking about new ways of working, Salcito argued that technology will drive future change.
“Technology is an amazing tool, and one of things it can do, which we have to harness, is the extension of learning beyond the classroom,” Salcito said. “Teachers can spend less time going through content chapter by chapter – chapter one, chapter two, test, chapter three, chapter four, test – and leverage this world of digital content and learning from others, learning by connecting students to work on projects outside the classroom. What does that mean for how people work inside the classroom? It means they can connect students, who can work on problem solving and new projects. They can have flip classrooms where students are in the driving seat.
“The size of the learning world for teachers has got bigger. They can influence a school student in the classroom but really guide their learning journey outside it, so we need amazing teachers now more than ever before.”
That will also create an education system in which students learn different things and at their own pace, he said. “We are going to move from a world where students get an A, B, C or D and move on to the next thing, to one in which students progress when they master a concept and put it into practice. Students will learn at different paces, they will learn different things, and that creates a need for more dynamic teachers.”
This new approach to teaching will prepare children for a world of work in which people will no longer move to find work, as technology will bring jobs to them.
“There is no shortage of talent in the world, it’s a matter of opportunity. We’ve got to bring that opportunity, with technology, to every classroom.”