IT in education is better-preparing students for the rapidly changing real world they face after graduation

Here’s a snippet:

Man#4: Who’d ‘ave thought, 30 years ago, we’d all be sitting here drinking Chateau de Shlasseler, eh?

Man#1: Aye, in them days we was glad to have the price of a cup of tea!

Man#2: Aye, a cup of cold tea!

Man#4: Without milk or sugar!

Man#3: Or tea!

Man#1: Aye, in a cracked cup and all!

I was reminded of this sketch because I was thinking about what it’s like to go to school today and how different it was when I was a lass.

Why, in those days we didn’t have computers and the lot. We were lucky to get new pens and three-ring binders, we were.

OK, so I’ve just revealed my age. But it’s true. I didn’t actually use a computer until I went to journalism school, and that was after six years of university.

Kids these days think they can’t possibly be expected to do school work without the aid of a laptop and an iPod, at the very least, with wireless PDAs to schedule their classes and cell phones to SMS each other the answers on exams.

For them, these tools are the equivalent of pens, paper and books for the previous generation.

Even bandwidth is now so widely available no one really has to give it a second thought anymore.

There has been much discussion about the benefit of bringing IT to the classroom. Some say it’s useless in the hands of “legacy” teachers who don’t know how to harness its potential. Others point to some of the examples I wrote about in this issue’s Deconstruction Zone – examples such as the University of Waterloo and the Ontario College of Art and Design. Both are encouraging profs to find ways to collaborate with other institutions using their access to high-speed networks, often with brilliant results. Others, such as Simon Fraser University, are incorporating the tools students use in the rest of their lives – blogging, podcasting, wikis – to make the delivery of education as convenient and relevant as possible.

Will tomorrow’s graduates be any better educated than their parents’ generation was? Time will tell. But arguably, they will be better equipped to cope with a world that changes much more rapidly than it did in my day. And for that, these institutions deserve an A for effort.

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