Last updated: 13.04.13

Technology 'brings speakers into the classroom'

Technology and e-learning resources can be used to help schools that are struggling to invite outside speakers in to deliver talks to pupils.

This is according to Andrew Jones, GCSE examiner and head of religious studies and sociology at a Hertfordshire school, who wrote in an article for the Guardian that crammed curriculums and difficulties in re-arranging timetables are making it harder for teachers to organise such events in their institutions.

He said there is so much content available on channels like YouTube and TED that can be streamed and shared with young people. This can take the shape of speeches, interviews and discussions based on a whole range of topics and issues that can be related to a syllabus or make for insightful background material.

Particularly with a subject like sociology, which Mr Jones is a specialist in, interviews with certain academics and researchers are likely to be highly relevant to a person's studies.

In addition, the professional noted some speakers are producing DVDs as a way of expanding their audience. He referred to Roop Singh, an expert in introducing students to Sikhism, who has recorded a series of talks and debates that could highly benefit a school pupil learning about religious education.

He added: "These are short and concise introductions that do not drag on for too long and bore the students."

While methods such as this mean students are unable to ask speakers questions or discuss topics with them personally, video learning could be combined with face-to-face instruction delivered by their own teacher to improve the overall quality of the educational experience.

Mr Jones noted to counteract the problem of not being able to communicate directly with outside speakers, he has started using Skype to set up cheap and effective video conferencing.

By hooking up school computers to a Buddhist samanera's smartphone, his pupils were able to ask questions about Buddhist beliefs on karma and the afterlife, with Mr Jones claiming the technology "worked well" and was "hassle-free".

A US government official also recently highlighted the benefits online resources can have for learning, with Karen Kornbluh writing on Policy Network that politicians need to work with schools and firms to ensure broadband is made as widely available as possible.