Raconteur

Apprenticeships special report 2017

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15 Apprenticeships technologies in further education from the Association of Colleges and the Asso- ciation for Learning Technology found that tablets were "an excellent technol- ogy for enriched pedagogy", citing their benefits in "interactive lectures, field trips and wet labs". Equipped with cameras and audio recorders, tablets are also ideal vehicles for the increasingly popular e-portfolio: a method of recording and showcasing a student's work, whether it's a video of the student carrying out a practical task, such as cutting hair, or observations from their placement employer. Widespread adoption of mobile tech - nology is hampered by cost, however. As John Traxler, Professor of digital learn- ing at the University of Wolverhampton, points out: "Once you get past compul- sory education you've got to address the question of equity: tablets are expensive, so either you ask students to bring their own, with the result that only the rich students do, or the institution buys them and it can't afford to." But the broader trend is away from tra - ditional classroom-based teaching: online distance learning has mushroomed in recent years, enabling students to gain both work-based qualifications and full degrees without attending a physical institution. While that's harder to achieve in areas where students need to acquire practical skills, technology can still add value. Prospects College of Advanced Technology in Essex, for example, has installed a virtual reality suite that will enable its construction students to practise new skills, such as carrying out electrical installation in a virtual setting before moving on to trying them in a real-world setting. Although the classroom-based model has lasted for hundreds of years, web- based, mobile and virtual technologies are taking learning in a new direction. We could finally be about to see the end of classroom-based teaching, and the dawn of an era of independent learning. Cutting-edge innovative technologies in use The broader trend is away from traditional classroom-based teaching: online distance learning has mushroomed in recent years Cloud computing Free educational suites from Google and Micro- soft enable schools to store other files on the web, so that students and teachers can col- laborate inside the classroom and out. 01 Tablet computers A tablet's versatility means students can learn anywhere at any time – whether it's taking photos on a field trip, videoing themselves practising a talk or using a language app to hone their speaking skills. 03 Simulations Game simulations enable students to learn practical skills by doing them, but without risk: particu - larly useful in higher education for students of medicine, dentistry or optometry. 05 Wearables Wearable headsets work with virtual reality to immerse students in an experience, while wearable cameras can cap - ture learning – and headbands that measure brain signals ¬let teachers know if students are distracted. 07 Virtual laboratories These allow students to run experiments online, and repeat them if they get them wrong – useful for students who are home-taught or who want to revise what they've learnt in college. 09 Virtual reality Students can immerse themselves in a learning experience, whether it's putting themselves in the place of an Apollo astronaut as he lands on the moon or walking round a virtual building site identifying safety issues. 02 Augmented reality AR software enables students to point their mobile camera at an object and see a video or animation super - imposed on the screen, bringing alive everything from history to car maintenance. 04 3D printing 3D printers ena- ble students to cre- ate prototypes for their design ideas, objects for use in science experiments, or solid geometric shapes to help them under - stand mathematical concepts. 06 Video-conferencing Tools such as Skype and FaceTime expand students' horizons by enabling them to talk to students and teachers in other countries – or have face-to-face consultations with an expert. 08 Robots The telepresence robot teacher, which has been piloted in the US, is a 1.2- metre stand with a screen and a camera: the remote teacher can see, hear and talk to their students. 10

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