Paradigm Shifts

How technology is driving change within the education sector

Published: 1 January 2013

Technology is playing an ever increasing role in shaping education services. It influences how schools deliver education services to the communities that they serve, how teachers design and distribute learning materials to their students, how teachers disseminate information, how students access learning materials, how assessment is conducted and how schools and parents communicate with one another. This article showcases how technology is driving innovation and change within the education sector and it examines the issues that technology is forcing everyone in the education sector to address.

3D Content
The use of 3D technologies and 3D content within the education sector is set to grow further. The adjacent video shows school leaders, teachers and students at Ocoee Middle School in Florida discussing the merits of using 3D content to support teaching and learning. [1] Click here for a case study on the 3D project at the school. [2]

The 3D education publishing industry is still very much in its infancy but the growing maturity of 3D content libraries bodes well for the future. Companies such as Gaia Technologies, Amazing Interactives, Designmate and others are paving the way in providing a richer and broader 3D content base for schools across the education sector.

The growing maturity, breadth and depth of 3D content libraries will ultimately extend beyond the large 3D projection facilities that are found in classrooms and lecturer theatres. There will be a natural progression for the industry to move into the e-book market by producing imaginative content for all levels within the education sector. Click here for further information on the use of 3D within the education sector.





Social Media
The use of social media within the education setting is often frowned upon. Schools qualify their objections to social media by stating that it distracts students from their learning because it reduces student engagement and participation in and out of the classroom. However, the work of the University of Minnesota's DigMe programme has reached an altogether different conclusion. [3] The study cites greater student engagement and participation.

This video summarises the benefits of using Twitter and other social media at the Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis.


Augmented Reality
The use of augmented reality (AR) in the education sector provides teachers and students the opportunity to devise and access learning resources in new and imaginative ways. Augmented reality enables us to overlay digital information and rich media with real time imagery. AR has been used by Kendal College to promote courses via its college prospectus, [4] the Natural History Museum for its 'who do you think you really are?' exhibition [5] and by LarnGear to enrich the use of textbooks. A sample of LarnGear's work can be seen in the adjacent video. [6]

Access to hardware such as visualisers and smart mobile devices is already in place. This and ready access to augmented reality software applications will enable every school to take advantage of marker based and gravimetric AR applications.

Click here for further information on augmented reality.





Mobile Computing
Mobile computing in the education sector used to be about the use of PDAs to support teaching and learning. The Learning2Go mobile learning project in the UK pathed the way for many schools. Since then mobile learning has lept forward and many schools now use tablet devices and smartphones to support learning. The growing computing power of the mobile device will mean that it will become the default device for teachers, students and schools. This video from VTT Finland provides a broad overview for using mobile learning devices within a school setting. [7]

A good source of information on mobile learning is Geoff Stead who is based at Qualcomm, Cambridge, UK.

Other useful resources on mobile learning include: UNESCO and the Mobile Learning Portal.


Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has transformed the delivery of web based services across the education sector and it has the potential to improve the quality of education services for all students. It is set to fundamentally change how every school, college and university will manage their technology and their ICT service delivery models. Improvements in cloud based services are enabling educational establishments to offer a richer and broader range of web based services to their students.

In this video from Microsoft we learn more about the basic components of cloud computing for the education sector. [8]

Click here for further information on cloud computing.





Untethered Learning
Technology has always forced us to question how educational establishments deliver education services to the communities that they serve. The notion of a linear, irreversible, measurable and predictable education timeline has been shattered by networked devices, networked services and by the network society. Technology is enabling learners to escape the context of this linear and tethered educational landscape. Tethered learning becomes cruder still when we state that education networks, networked services and information flows are undermining the very notion of a 'before' or an 'after', the 'here' and 'there' of a traditional classroom environment.

The adjacent video showcases the benefits of using the pedagogy of the flipped classroom to support teaching and learning. [9] It places the pupil at the centre of the learning process and paves way for a individualised and differentiated learning model for schools.


New education structures
As schools take advantage of networked services they are increasingly becoming active agents in a hyper connected world that will forever change how they manage, offer and develop education services for the communities that they serve. The success of schools will increasingly be determined by their place and their position of authority within their respective networks. The video from Ericsson examines the future of learning in an increasingly connected world. [10]

Click here for further information regarding how connected schools, connected devices, connected services and connected students are altering our perception of the education landscape.

The emergence of the supernode or the digitally advantaged school will play an important role in defining how education services are structured and delivered.





Re-defining education
This video from the MacArthur Foundation describes how learning can be re-imagined in the 21st century. [11]

Accelerating technological change over shorter periods of time will place increasing pressure on educational establishments as they seek to effectively manage their ICT resources and networked services. In a world that is consumed by accelerating change the implications for education systems around the world will be hard to ignore. The article on Cyberpunk schools explores some of the key issues facing the education sector.



What needs to change?
We have reached a point were it is impossible to divorce and separate technology from the day-to-day practices, rituals and routines within schools. Education leaders can better define and understand technology if they view technology as an indissoluble part of the modern education system. If education leaders view technology as being intrinsically social perhaps its position to enhance teaching and learning will be enhanced.

The desire to use technology to enrich teaching and learning is growing stronger. It enables learning to become relevant and engaging for all. It is becoming impossible to talk meaningfully about one without talking about the other. The following video highlights the challenges facing the education sector and what skill sets are required to equip students to enter the world of work. [12]




The digital codex
The advent of the e-book has enabled traditional text to be supplemented and enhanced with rich digital media. The e-book is no longer a digital copy of the codex but rather a medium that enables readers to interact with the written word in a manner never envisaged before. The reader is no longer the passive consumer of text; rather the reader has become an active participant and contributor to the modern digital codex. The ability to be an active agent is the single reason to be optimisitc about the future of the book and for encouraging widespread reading amongst the younger adult population in schools.

This video from Amazon describes the excitement around the Kindle and how Whispercast is helping schools to manage them. [13]

The digital codex will have a profound impact on the availability and dissemination of digital literature across the education sector. There is no doubt that the digital codex will excite and engage readers whatever their age. It has the potential to revitalise the publishing industry and the various sectors that produce traditional written literature to support learners in full time education or those in the workplace. The digital codex opens the door to various industries including film, gaming, 3D publishing and many more. Just as the original codex transformed the world with the spread of the written word, the digital codex will transform how we produce, consume, digest, contribute to and share the written word with the aid of engaging multi-media. Click here for further information on e-books and the modern digital codex.



  1. 3D at Ocoee Middle School.
  2. Ocoee Middle School 3D case study:
  3. DigMe:
  4. Kendal College and its use of augmented reality in its prospectus:
  5. Natural History Museum:
  6. Larngear:
  7. VTT Finland:
  8. Cloud computing:
  9. Flipped classrooms:
  10. The Future of Learning, Networked Society - Ericsson.
  11. Re-imagining learning for the 21st century:
  12. Learn to Change, Change to Learn by the Pearson Foundation:
  13. Kindle Whispercast Video: