Batjay emailed me and Sassy, who likewise blogged about it, about Secondary 1 students at Crescent Girls' School using PC's in lieu of pens, textbooks and paper. Being a pilot class, these girls will be among the first students to use this high tech PCs, which come loaded with digital textbooks, multimedia learning tools and note-taking software. You can read about it here.
Whether we like it or not, computers are here to stay. This will naturally bring a big change in how education will be in the next decades to come. For one thing, we may be seeing the final stages of the traditional classroom where students ranging from a minimum of 10 students to as big as 70 per class come to learn all at the same time. At this very moment, actual universities are going online and offering virtual schooling for college and post-graduate courses. I alone, am a member of one where I try to learn how to write poetry.
What will be the implications of having a virtual university as against the traditional schools? One of the main arguments against this scenario is that students will lose the chance to socialize with their peers. In one of his latest entries, Doc Emer in his blog entitled, Do you think Dr. Emer has "Poor social skills? presents us with a study of children without siblings as lacking in social skills. While commenters agreed that this may not be so since these children may have grown up with friends of their own age, a virtual school will deprive them of the needed interaction with their peers. And because one has no need to go to school, what this means is that there will be no more games to play with one another during recess and PE. No story telling during breaks, no need to look decent and be careful with social manners.
Another argument is that there will be no instantaneous interaction between student and teacher. True, they can use cameras, but this may be very impersonal. Hence, gestures, hand signals and body movements which betray ones true feelings and sentiments may be hidden from view.
Lastly, the syllabi, methodology, testing and evaluation will have to be altered to adapt to the change. For one thing, we must be wary of safeguarding that students are the ones doing the work and not anyone else. Tests will be more open-ended and memorization will be minimized as the student can easily pick up the book and check sources. Hence, studying will be more on the analytical rather than merely identifying by rote and mnemonics.
Now, let's talk about advantages. If and when this virtual schools happen, students, as well as teachers, will not have to leave their houses anymore. All they have to do is turn on the computer and read the lesson. Ergo, no traffic to contend with, lesser kidnappings if not nil, no need to declare a no class day during typhoons, etc. Furthermore, it will be a lot cheaper to maintain a school in the long run, as we no longer need classrooms with blackboards and everything that comes with the traditional package.
Again, at the rate we're going, this phenomenon may not be far from coming. When this day comes, I wonder if we can pick it up easily. I guess not when we have not gotten rid of our fear of long brownouts happening again like it did before. Not when most of the populace is reluctant about change and refusing to leave our comfort zones. Not when our students are not mature enough to be left alone and study by themselves.