The Pounamu game run last week alongside the Transit of Venus Forum got me thinking about the future of science and education in New Zealand so I offer the following as a series of snapshots of education in New Zealand in 2020.
Snapshot 1 – Jenny age 16
Jenny is doing work for school on her computer. She has just watched a video about genetic variance in plants and is answering a series of questions about the video. The questions get harder as Jenny answers correctly, but when gives an incorrect answer they get easier, assessing how well she has understood the material. A built in AI (artificial intelligence) program directs Jenny to additional information to assist with problem areas. If a problem area persists a electronic note is directed to her teacher indicating a problem. If other students have problems with the same area an electronic note goes to the designer of the teaching program, so that they can reconsider the resources associated with this learning module.
The AI’s, having a running record of Jenny’s interests and abilities, suggests that Jenny might want to consider doing her history assignment on Gregor Mendel, and also notes the links between genetics and mathematics in terms of probabilities and proportions (Jenny loves mathematics).
Jenny’s homework takes less than an hour, giving her time to do some recreational reading. She is looking forward to tomorrow afternoon, as Wednesday afternoons focus on future careers. Students can carry out tests, linked to the AI, which suggest careers that might suit them, they can sit on on university lectures, or they can visit workplaces. Tomorrow Jenny is visiting an architect, as her interests in mathematics, ecology and working with people have indicated this might be a career she would enjoy. Jenny can also choose to investigate other career options independent of the career advice programs, and has already investigated being a nurse, doctor, mathematics professor and mathematics teacher. Jenny’s 17 year old friend, Maree, who is a much more hands on, practical worker is spending her Wednesday afternoons completing an electrical course at the local polytechnic. By the end of the year she already have some of the course credits she needs to become an electrical and network technician by studying at the polytechnic next year.
Snapshot 2 – Tane & Hemi (11 years old)
The twins are working in class on projects based on the Christchurch earthquake. Each student must produce three projects which tell something about the Christchurch quake of 2011, but they can produce it in a range of ways. Tane is making the most of his preferences for group work and art to direct a play with classmates and work on a group mural, while Hemi is building a model of Christchurch and writing a report. For their third project students are encouraged to develop one on their weaker “preferences”. For Tane this means writing a report, and for Hemi this means working on a group project to prepare a website.
The teacher moves from group to group, facilitating learning and occasionally arbitrating disputes. There is time for him to make notes about the progress of each student, which can be sent to the parents electronically at the end of each week outlining highlights, progress, and challenges that their child has made during the week.
Snapshot 3 – Minister for Education
The results of a report on educational achievement has just arrived on the Minister’s desk and she is pleased. Although the development of the seamless new education system cost were high initially, the success rates at schools and tertiary institutions are higher than they have ever been in New Zealand’s history. Furthermore, career satisfaction figures coming from recent graduates is almost 100% due to the intensive career advice now being carried out in schools. Australia, the UK and the USA have already made approaches to not only purchase the innovative new system, they also want to network it in order to share resources on an international scale. New Zealand is a world leader in educational technology and pedagogy.
Perhaps readers might consider this an overly optimistic, maybe even naive vision for the future. But many of the technologies and ideas are already available in one way or another.
What is YOUR vision for science and/or education in New Zealand?