Past posts I’ve written on edtech have emphasized the benefits that digital textbooks, iPads, apps, blogs, and other digital tools can have for the classroom. Some educators have other opinions, skeptical of whether these tools are more distracting for students than helpful.
How about the opinion of edtech and the change to the digital classroom from a strong leader and education advocate like Bill Gates? Unquestionably Gates sways to the edtech side for classrooms, but for what reasons? How does he envision future classrooms and why does he think this type of learning will help improve students and their education?
In a recent article, Bill Gates Classroom of the Future, Gates claims that technology will change the way lessons are taught. With classrooms filled with too many students, all with different learning styles, according to Gates, classrooms are in need of change. For him, college classes of the future will no longer take place in a lecture hall where hundreds of students listen to a professor talk for two hours. No. Gates imagines future college classrooms will take place online. Students will watch lectures from the best in their fields from their very own computers. For Gates, hiring the greatest minds to teach large numbers of students is not only more effective than traditional college classrooms of today, but is also cheaper.
I know what you might be thinking. What about the classroom interactive experience? How can one gain real world experience sitting in their sweatpants watching lectures? Gates has bigger plans. The money saved from hiring professors will and should go towards labs and study groups where students can interact, learn from each other, gain hands-on experience, and apply what they learn from lecture to the real world.
Over all Gates is a big supporter of edtech. He believes that a lot of America’s education problems can be solved with the use of technology. In addition, he thinks technology can help personalize education for students, making lessons more effective and engaging.
It looks like Gates is already on his way to making these things a reality. Rumor is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently invested $100 million in inBloom, a resource for teachers that helps them tailor their lesson plans to individual students.