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BLOG: Strike and Skype will take your job

Dr John Spencer | March 22, 2013
Technology could end schooling as we know it

Teachers are currently not a very happy bunch. In fact they are planning to take quite a lot of industrial action to express just how unhappy they are.

Teaching is a profession that in the greater scheme of things enjoys security, pay, conditions and pensions that many in other walks of life would envy...except that few are flocking to join the teaching workforce, in fact quite the opposite; there are more qualified teachers of working age not teaching than are still in schools.

In my own college* in the past term we lost the new Principal (sick) three Directors ( Faculty, IT and 'Quality) two 'Heads of Learning' ( sick, and 'retired'), Head of Web Services, Head of MIS services, Teaching and Learning Manager, all of the science tutors, and half of the maths department. So as you can see all is not fine in this microcosm of eduland, for whatever reason.

But this is not the point of the blog, the point is that bit by bit a vacuum is being created.

The vacuum is the withdrawal of services, services that are, in their purest form, essential to each and every generation. Looking back on this time, is this moment when Little Johnny stopped going to school?

Online provision is now becoming common place. If you are a tutor working for an agency in the UK domestic market you will already be very familiar with Skype and the online white-board collaborative software Scribblar. If you are one of the many thousands who home educate you would freak out if the Internet link went down.

Meanwhile globally edX's free online learning platform created by the US's MIT and offering MITx courses has over 600,000 registrants. The India-based Tutor-Vista company offers online education to a vast number of domestic users but they also have 2,000 students in the US taking their courses. I could go on adding examples but there is no need.

We may be at a time of great change. The role of schools has steadily changed from providers of mostly information based education to providers of education and social care, to providers of mostly of just social care from birth to 18. Technology means that provision of information-based education does not have to be provided through schools and increasingly is not.

Inertia is all that stops a major shift away from schools. Industrial action sustained over years may be the catalyst that brings about change.


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