Childhood in the digital age
Childhood in the digital age

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

1 What could the future look like?

When you think about education, you probably think of a teacher standing at the front of a classroom imparting knowledge to pupils. However, the presence of personal mobile technologies, such as tablets, that provide personalised feedback to each pupil, might change the structure and dynamics of classrooms.

As you saw in Week 1, there has been a significant change in terms of digitisation of information and providing access to it among children worldwide. This includes homes and schools. With millions spent on computers and iPads rather than, for example, school libraries or teachers’ professional development, we need to ask critically: what drives the agenda behind educational technology? There are three possibilities. First, the provision of school technology follows public and political interests. In many politician’s eyes, investing in educational technology is a symbolic gesture of demonstrating a change in the educational system, investing in the future of the country and its economic competitiveness (Selwyn, 2010). Second, there could be private interests. Professor Neil Selwyn has been vocal about the dangers of allowing commercial corporations such as Microsoft, Google and Apple, to be closely involved in local decision making about how children learn, with their technology evangelists and advisers influencing headteachers’ investment decisions. The third, and hopefully the most important reason for why governments and schools invest in educational technology is because they want to improve children’s learning and wellbeing. To what extent is this aim supported by research evidence? An informed answer requires a summary of several research studies that have measured the impact of similar devices, programs or approaches to their use in classrooms. For example, interactive whiteboards have been in schools long enough for researchers to pull together several studies and to conclude that despite their popular adoption in schools, the presence of interactive whiteboards led to very little or no impact on students’ attainment or school achievement (Smith, Higgins, Wall and Miller, 2005). While technology can be engaging and motivating for pupils, this can only benefit learning if the technology used corresponds to the learning goals. In other words, it is not whether technology is used (or not) which makes the difference to children’s learning, but how well the technology is used in classrooms (Higgins, Xiao and Katsipataki, 2012).

A popular approach in many schools is the so-called ‘flipped classroom’, in which the teachers have changed roles to become classroom mentors.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371