Tomorrow's classroom;Project ICT

27th August 1999 at 01:00
What will the school of the future look like?

Will it be a big, futuristic building with rooms filled with hundreds of computers?

Or will it be a small homely building at the end of every street? The children would go to their own little school, perhaps 20 of them at a time, just a few hundred yards from home, with one teacher and a few helpers. (You can reach anyone you like from a computer, and find any information you need. So you don't need a big building filled with teachers and other people.) Or will it be your own room at home? Because all the information you need, and all the advice and all the guidance, can come to you on your computer, and you can ask whatever questions you need to ask. Why should you need to leave home?

Which of these would you like? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each of them?

Compare these "future school" suggestions with the way adults work now.

How do adults you know work? At home, in smallhi-tech places or in big hi-tech places?


If you think of the Internet as a pipeline bringing masses of things to do into your classroom, then you might like to discuss whether schools themselves will have to change.

Already there are sites specially written for you to work on and learn alone , in a group, or with your teacher. Here are just a few of them:

* Montage at: montage Activities and projects are organised by teachers from around the world who are very willing to give help if needed. You can also try:

* Star Tower at: comuk


* www.sutton.lincs.sch. ukzonestorystart.html

Pupils from different schools can also work on projects such as making a website.

You can look at what groups of children have made together without ever meeting each other by visiting: www.att. virtualclassroom.orgecontestindex.html You could also swap your school mascot or a cuddly toy with that of another school.

Ask your partner school to make sure your mascot sends regular e-mail describing what it is doing (with help from the children, of course).

You can find out what it has for school dinner, what assembly is like, or what the children's houses are like.


The Internet is only the latest in a long line of innovations in communication technology. The Electric Telegraph, for instance, enabled the Victorians to send messages using wires and electricity. Charles Wheatstone and William Fothergill invented telegraphy in 1831, but their method was cumbersome - an arrow pointed to letters of the alphabet.

In 1837 Samuel Morse patented the dot and dash code and, in 1846, Alexander Bain introduced "ticker tape" messages. Both made telegraphy faster.

Once the messages had reached the receiving telegraph office, messengers would carry the written-out and decoded "telegrams" to the people they had been addressed to.

By the mid-1840s, the telegraph network was spreading across the United States and in 1854 an undersea cable was laid linking London to Paris.

The telegraph enabled the people of the Victorian era to send messages around the entire globe much faster than before, but its days were numbered. In 1876 Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone and by 1890 most Western cities were on the 'phone.

Discussion points

What other changes have occurred in the way we communicate? Have these changes all been good? Why?

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