Inventing the future;The shape of things to come;Millennium edition

31st December 1999 at 00:00
But Chris Johnston lists the reasons why a revolution in children's learning is just around the corner.

Some of the innovations we can expect:

* Virtual teachers: holographic technology will allow a realistic three-dimensional image of a teacher, to be projected at the front of the class, increasing the take-up of distance learning. This is possible now and will start to be found in schools in the next couple of years.

* Learning on the go: mobile wireless devices with Internet access (similar in appearance to mobile phones) will make it possible to take one of the thousands of online course that will be available wherever you want to study. These devices are on the market now but may not be used for delivering courses for five to 10 years.

* Tailored education: putting curriculum materials online will allow students to create courses of work that are of greater interest to them, perhaps bringing about the demise of the restrictive national curriculum. The process is already under way and will gain momentum.

* Change at last: after staying the same for more than a century, technology will finally force changes in the design of schools and the structure of the education system to better cater for different learning styles and ways of imparting knowledge. Students are likely to spend more time studying outside school, taking advantage of high-speed communication links to most homes. However, it is likely to be at least a decade before these changes begin.

* A better-educated society: advances will ensure that technology continues to motivate learners who cannot cope with more traditional methods and will help more people to become literate. If it fulfils its promise, technology could help ensure that by 2020 disaffected students are a thing of the past.

Chris Johnston is The TES's IT reporter

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