Last updated: 18.04.13

Place of technology in learning 'needs addressing'

The question of how technology can be applied to education to improve teaching and learning has yet to be answered properly, one expert has argued.

Crispin Weston, chairman of the British Standard Institution's committee for learning, education and training, spoke to Computing about the role digital systems can play in enhancing a young person's development.

He said that under the old ICT curriculum, there was rhetoric like "digital citizenship" and "21st century skills" that was too vaguely defined and unhelpful in improving education.

"I think productivity is very important, but there's a very important relationship between creativity and skills and knowledge - I don't think you can have one without the others," the expert added.

Mr Weston pointed to the NESTA Next Gen report published by government skills champion Ian Livingstone in 2011, which highlighted the significance of core academic disciplines.

In the document, Mr Livingstone detailed rigid frameworks of learning are not necessary and games-based education in particular is often more exciting for children. He said instead of educators getting "hung up" about technology, they should instead consider the teaching theory itself.

"What's wrong with [children] learning through YouTube, or peer-to-peer learning, or downloading the best resources in the world from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology?" the professional was quoted as asking.

He noted all children have different skills, but they are still taught the same information by rote and regurgitation in order for them to pass an examination, which may have little use. Furthermore, he stated collaborating with teachers instead of merely listening to them is closer to what they'll be doing later in life.

By using e-learning in schools, pupils are able to benefit from more interactive educational processes that will widen their imagination rather than stifle it.

And online learning providers like Virtual College, which is based in West Yorkshire, are visiting institutions across the UK to show teachers how technology can be used to equip children with important skills that will prepare them for the world of work.