Technology is only as good as its teachers

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If you could go back to school and set up the ideal learning situation just for you, what would that school look like? What would the teachers be like, what would your classroom look like? And what technology would be available to you?

Imagine learning a new language and being able to practice words and phrases with a native speaker from the first lesson. Imagine ancient Egypt and the building of the pyramids – and being able to walk among the builders and see close-up how they moved the enormous stones they used. Imagine studying to become a surgeon and practicing surgical procedures – with the guarantee that, should something go wrong, no one gets hurt.

These are only a few of the scenarios that I can see happening – not in the future, but in the present. For instance, in my previous article I discussed how healthcare is embracing technology today: after years of criticism for being too “slow”, the industry is adopting VR and AR technology to train our future doctors and nurses, with the prediction that, by 2025, it will only be second to gaming for this.

Obviously, such an evolution has its requirements. While the IT sector is crying out for trained professionals, the schools are not able to deliver. Even though classrooms are often packed with technology – from tablet computers and widescreen televisions to interactive whiteboards – the staff that can fully utilise the equipment in their lessons is still missing.

The Roehampton Annual Computing Education report shows that only 11.9% of British students choose to study computer science and that there is still a discrepancy between girls and boys when they choose subjects, a tendency that is reflected in Germany as outlined by Dinko Eror in his excellent article on October 3rd, 2018.

It is not enough for each country to invest in a bunch of tablets for their schools. The tech-upgrade must penetrate the entire school system in cooperation with those businesses that are experiencing difficulties in finding qualified staff. And this includes the trainers – or teaching staff, if you will: IT equipment is not sufficient, if nobody teaches you how to use it.

Although at Dell EMC we can offer a full range of products and services to schools of all levels, and make sure these are tailor-made to each school, for each subject, for each student – from elementary to higher education – this is only helpful if there is also enough staff that is qualified to make the most of it. Organizations are by now fully aware of the need for technological transformation. But if the future workforce is going to be prepared for tomorrow’s technological world, the equipment upgrade must go hand in hand with major investments in educators, from nursery teachers to university lecturers.

Perhaps, teaching staff feel overwhelmed by all the new tech that is available, and perhaps it is difficult for politicians to work out if the focus should be on tablets or VR. My suggestion would be to focus on the needs of the IT sector as well as the needs of the teaching institutions, identifying where the greatest shortages lie and custom-building “training for the trainers”.

Ideally, the need would not follow available technology, but rather accompany it, work alongside it. One shoe does not necessarily fit all – here at Dell EMC, we know this and are prepared to adapt to the user, whether that user is already an advanced technology buff or just setting out on his journey of transformation.

Unless the world does end tomorrow – there really is no turning back.

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