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How wireless encourages collaborative learning in schools

How wireless encourages collaborative learning in schools

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The development of wireless technology has undoubtedly paved the way for greater collaborative learning.

As renowned educationalist Sir Ken Robinson once pointed out, education has traditionally been wary of technology in a way that is strangely at odds with the broader world. For example, he said children are taught from an early age not to copy each other’s ideas, yet this would be called teamwork, which is widely encouraged in the workplace.

Thankfully, that is changing, and technology is playing a pivotal role. Collaborative learning is not a new idea – group work has always taken place in classrooms (when students are given permission), and peer learning, which explicitly encourages pupils to learn from each other through discussion and demonstration, is a staple part of teacher training.

New technology, new impetus

Since the onset of wireless technology, collaborative learning has gained new momentum. As long as they have a mobile device and a WiFi connection, students do not have to be in the same place to share their learning. Social platforms mean they can share ideas wherever they are, conferencing technology means they can all sit in on the same virtual tutorial, and cloud productivity software means they can watch the same video and share written notes in real-time.

All of this has come about in the last decade or so, thanks primarily to the simultaneous development of two technologies, wireless grids and devices which can use these grids to connect people (i.e. any mobile device with a camera, microphone and screen share facility). The deluge of software (or, if you prefer, apps) which has followed essentially enriches this basic functionality.

Initially, collaborative learning using wireless technology emerged in colleges and universities, with tech-savvy students pushing their learning on their new devices. But as young children have taken a bigger and bigger share of the mobile technology market – and have indeed become the first ‘digital natives’ – schools down to the primary level have started to grasp the potential of letting children learn together through devices they intuitively understand.

Working together

Indeed, with younger pupils, where it can be more challenging for teachers to let go of the instructional role, wireless technology distinguishes between teacher-led activities and pupil-centred collaboration. Some of the ways WiFi in schools is allowing collaborative learning to flourish includes:

  • Collective note-taking: Instead of teachers leading a lesson by writing notes on a topic on a board at the front of the class, every pupil has ownership because lesson notes appear on the device. Micro-blogging sites make this interactive, so students can add notes or ask questions shared with a group or the whole class.
  • Collaborative projects: Wiki technology was created to allow users to add their knowledge to a collective whole simply and quickly. This is a powerful way to encourage children to share their learning towards creating a collaborative whole. It also hands over ownership of critical higher-level skills such as selecting or rejecting content and organising layout. This can encourage collaboration in writing as much as project work. Many apps and websites offer platforms to collaborate on writing stories and books and allow ideas to be shared in real-time.
  • Social learning: More and more schools are adopting Virtual Learning Platforms, which by their very nature make learning a shared, social activity rather than something distinct to each individual. VLPs break down the barriers between school and home, as students can carry on their learning after the school day ends and discuss it together through messenger platforms. Commercial VLPs, often subject-specific, come with interactive lessons and collaborative games and puzzles as standard.

The key to all of this is having a robust, scalable WiFi network that can handle high volumes of data traffic and having the devices available. The rest is limited only by the imaginations of students, teachers and app makers.

For more information about setting up or updating the WiFi networks in your school to meet the demands of hi-tech education, get in touch with Simpli-Fi for a no-obligation discussion about your requirements.

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As founder of Simpli-Fi, Gary's knowledge of cutting-edge networks and technology solutions is second to none. Gary has worked on countless projects over the years, from straightforward connectivity projects to complex, large-scale networking projects across multiple buildings.

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