Feels like heaven... in fact, it's Belgium

7th September 2001 at 01:00
IMAGINE a world where pupils are so keen to learn that they repeat their homework until they get it 100 per cent correct, where they say learning is fun and where marking is done for you. It may sound like heaven. In fact, it's Belgium.

Language teacher Manuel Baeten has been seconded to Internet firm Dewildecbt.com to help design the Access to Cyberspace for Education (ACE) website which provides CD-Roms and Internet language lessons.

And his class of teenagers in Flemish-speaking Ghent would now rather stare at a 14-inch screen than at their teacher.

Mr Baeten said that teachers prepare exercises using the programme, put them on the website and then the students can download them to try either in class or as homework. He said: "The programme automatically makes a results file and pupils send it to the teacher. We do not have to correct the homework anymore."

Fifteen-year-olds learning English at St Lutgardis High School rave about the system. Kim Huughe and Nathalie Ampe said: "It would be great if we could work all the time with the computer."

Sofie De Cooman and Lies Van de Steene added: "We hope that in the future everybody can work at home with their own personal computer. Teachers will be replaced by computers. It's cheaper for the school, but there won't be as many jobs."

Lode Clincke, another pupil, said: "I see the school of tomorrow as a school where pupils don't have to be at the school in person. I am not sure whether this is good ... you can't expect a computer to help you in a human way."

So will the website replace Mr Baeten's job? He points out that although he doesn't have to mark the work, he does have to create the exercises, but added: "It takes some work away - when the kids are working I can read my newspaper. But I have to be a guide on how to use the site. I don't agree that computers will replace teachers. Computers are just a big help in motivating the kids."

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