How different will a UK Boarding school be in 10 years time?
“Classrooms will certainly look different with mobile chatbots offering support to individual students and more personalised learning plans”
With the technological advances in the last 10 years, it is a challenge to predict future changes in another 10 years. However, there is so much scope for existing tech to be developed further, it is a fair guess that many of the ideas outlined below will make a tangible impact on the UK Boarding school sector.
Chatbots are already an established part of academic and admissions support teams at some UK and U.S. Universities. At Georgia Tech one online support worker ‘Jill Watson’ helped students on Professor Ashok Goel’s Knowledge-Based Artificial intelligence class, for a whole year, without students knowing she was a chatbot.
The original intent for building ‘Jill’ was to free up time for the course’s human TAs so they could concentrate on more creative, less repetitive tasks. But then her creators noticed an unexpected benefit resulting from Jill’s deployment: more student engagement in the course.
Before ‘Jill Watson’, students averaged 32 comments per semester; after Jill Watson, each student averaged 38 comments per semester.
It is almost certain that the technology that has developed ‘Jill’ will be extended to other functions both in Universities and forward-thinking Boarding schools. It is entirely possible chatbots will augment learning and teaching support workers in the classroom and also be programmed to help with EAL support in the way many schools already use Alexa to help international students develop their English skills.
“It is almost certain that the technology that has developed ‘Jill’ will be extended to other functions both in Universities and forward-thinking Boarding schools”
Almost certainly too, as Anna Trott from Kings Colleges highlights, more learning will be online and blended/online learning may allow many more pupils to benefit from UK Boarding school teaching without coming to the UK to study.
Therefore, forward-thinking schools may decide to focus resources on developing online learning capabilities backed up with local blended learning support, in the form of locally based teachers, rather than further expanding UK campus-based facilities.
Classrooms will certainly look different with mobile chatbots offering support to individual students and more personalised learning plans developed as algorithms extend into how lesson plans can be tailored to individual learning needs.
Therefore, it is highly likely the current style of teaching in Boarding schools will change with teachers perhaps offering a 10-minute introduction to each lesson before each child then works on their own personalised learning plan, interspersed with team & project learning.
“It is highly likely the current style of teaching in Boarding schools will change”
Of course, VR will be playing its part too, enhancing learning via apps like google expeditions bringing field trips into the classroom.
Other significant changes may relate to how pupils, themselves, will change in the next 10 years. As Adrian Hallworth, Principal of Taunton International School points out; ‘It is likely UK Boarding schools will have a significantly higher proportion of international students than they do now and this will change many things including the sports that are offered and potentially a more internationally focused curriculum.
Also, students in 2029 will demand schools are more aware of their environmental impact and insist on a zero-carbon footprint, going paperless, improved recycling, reduced waste, etc.’
The fabric of schools themselves may well also look different, as Mike Oliver from Brooke House says; ‘environmental pressures will lead to many more schools having solar panels on their roofs’.
Potentially schools will also look to reduce the overall size of their school grounds, using money from selling off some acreage to fund the significant additional technological development costs that will be needed to make schools competitive in 2029.
As for teachers themselves, there will certainly be CPD needs as teachers will be required to have a greater knowledge of online and blended learning approaches and to be comfortable with the technology that will deliver this new style of learning…and they will have to learn to get on with their new chatbot learning assistants!
However, as Caroline Nixon from BAISIS (British Association of Independent Schools with International Students) points out, the foundations of delivering a high quality, ‘tech proof’ education in a world where future jobs are almost impossible to imagine should focus on the skills that, for now at least, separate us from the chatbots; ‘problem solving, team working, empathy and critical reasoning, the very skills great schools already develop’.
About the author: Pat Moores is director and co-founder of UK Education Guide.