Microsoft South Africa has unveiled the ‘Classroom of the Future’ exhibit at the Cape Town Science Centre, revealing how learning could be shaped through technology.
One of the pivotal challenges facing South Africa as a developing democracy is that of education, and how learners today might leverage new tools and applications in the workspace tomorrow. On March 24th at the Cape Town Science Centre, Microsoft unveiled its take on what the ‘Classroom of the Future’ could look like.
Given South Africa’s unique catalogue of problems – among them, the sparsity of affordable, efficient access to the internet – South Africa’s future in the information economy might seem more of a depressing reality than a hopeful future. Microsoft’s vision is one that has been borne out of a relationship with the Western Cape Department of Education since 2015, and reflects a positive future for learners seeking to get to grips with technology.
— Bandwidth Blog (@BandwidthBlog) March 24, 2017
In an official press release, Julie Cleverdon, director of the Science Centre commented that “by providing visitors/participants with a progressive view of the classroom – one that allows for creation and collaboration, that enables exploration and assists with the accommodation of any learning style while focusing on student-based learning outcomes – the exhibition also serves as a celebration of change and technology’s role as an enabler of that change.”
The Classroom of the Future will serve to offer on-site professional teacher development through workshops and demonstrations; the exhibition will serve as a lynchpin for Microsoft’s vision of widespread digital transformation in schools.
The exhibit leverages several of Microsoft’s products to convey just how learners might be able to access information in the future. For play, the exhibition makes use of Microsoft’s Xbox One and Kinect system with titles such as Minecraft: Education Edition.
For word and document processing, budget PCs running Windows 10 and Office 365 demonstrated how learners could make use of applications – both online and offline – to shape their learning output.
Educating both teachers and learners
While the exhibition did highlight the use of Microsoft’s products, Zoaib Hoosen, the Managing Director of Microsoft South Africa, deftly elaborated that the real focus of the exhibition was to gear both learners and teachers in managing foundational principles of how to leverage technology, rather than focus on end-products themselves.
“While educators can continuously update the technology available in their schools, it’s the shifting expectations for students and the learning process that matter… These factors need to be the driving forces of conversations about how best to use technology in the classroom. Rather than leading with technology, the conversation needs to focus on the skills students need and how new curricula should be implemented. Discussion must encompass a foundation set – or the long-term vision – of how technology can impact students’ learning outcomes,” Hoosen said.
Thus, much of what might shape educational environments tomorrow might be dependent on how teachers themselves understand and proceed to leverage technology around them; to that end, Microsoft South Africa has trained over 80,000 educators to use new learning technologies, and has donated $180,000 to the Western Cape Department of Education.
The Classroom of the Future, which is now open at the Cape Town Science Centre, will grant attendees an inside look into how the classroom itself is constantly evolving, and how teachers can challenge, inspire, and engage their students.
Have your say!
What are your thoughts? How could teachers and learners leverage technology to improve education in South Africa? Do you plan on visiting the Classroom of the Future? Let us know in the comments below!