Keeping up with technology is no easy task, but making online platforms accessible to children is vital for broadening their learning horizons. The internet plays a key part in how we socialise, self-educate, apply for jobs, and — in most industries — actually do our jobs!
So, what’s the current situation regarding Wi-Fi in educational facilities? This article investigates why the use of the internet and Wi-Fi is beneficial to pupils around the UK and how the education system has changed over the years.
Do students truly benefit from the internet?
According to the British Educational Suppliers Association, 70% of schools are not Wi-Fi ready. However, many feel that implementing the internet in schools is vital to education and can make learning easier and more fun — providing that it is monitored to make sure everyone using the service is safe.
The amount of information available online seems endless, which makes it a great source that teachers can use to plan their lessons and students can use to research topics. A search of a simple phrase will bring up many results, but search engines now have the ability to prioritise reliable websites that they think will most help the user. For example, the BBC Bitesize site features themes that are popular in the UK school curriculum. This website then leads on to different levels of learning to ensure that it caters to students of all ages and abilities. It also provides interactive educational games for students which helps with engagement and information retention.
The internet is akin to a limitless library — so why prevent learners from accessing it? In 2016, the BBC reported that over 300 libraries were closed down since 2010. If local councils are cutting their budgets and shutting libraries, why would students travel out of their way to gather the information they need for school from books when they have the internet available at their fingertips with all of the information they need?
What Wi-Fi can do for schoolchildren
Your school has the internet? Great — but what about how fast it is and where in the school you can access it?
If the school Wi-Fi connection available is good, it can truly boost an educational institution and provide an exciting source of learning for students of all abilities. It will allow pupils and teachers to move around the building without fear of losing connection and losing work. Also, good Wi-Fi will allow kids to research key information that they may need quickly. Consequently, this will save taking trips between the library and the classroom, and so allow teachers to monitor their students more closely during their lessons and reduce disruptions.
But what do professionals think about Wi-Fi and the internet? Gareth Tomlin, technical director of KBR, said:
“Education is rapidly moving towards mobile learning on the likes of iPads, Android Tablets and Google Chromebooks. One of the main reasons for this is the fantastic choice of educational applications and the fact that students are so comfortable using these types of devices in their homes. However, these gadgets can only communicate with the school’s network over Wi-Fi as they have no wired network port.”
What about the social implications of Wi-Fi? Positively, it seems likely that implementing Wi-Fi could boost communication and interactions across the school — whether this includes pupils in the same school or different schools around the country or world! However, this can only work if a good connection is installed.
Wi-Fi has the potential to also give pupils an insight into how other people learn, which means sharing methods that could help struggling students. For example, if there is a student that has an illness or a disability, this will give them the opportunity to continue to take part in lessons using conference calls hosted by Wi-Fi connections.
With there being many specialists in certain areas of educational topics around the world, it would also enable schools to schedule in calls with those people and this could lead them to taking over the lesson for a certain amount of time. This allows schools to create strong connections with individuals and institutions around the world that will help benefit the learning experience of their students and teachers.
What does the future hold for internet in schools?
Technology and how we use it is constantly evolving. With technology gadgets becoming more affordable, we will see more students with personal devices at school, as well as more hi-tech, school-property gadgets for pupils to use. It’s likely that we will also see a higher use of ‘the cloud’. This will not only enable teachers to store different types of materials for their lessons, but also create a collection of work from their pupils.
What about online security in schools? It’s crucial that all technology in schools is monitored by teachers, so students will also have their own account on a built-in school system. This will allow teachers and students to set and complete homework tasks online, which will mean fewer paper-based homework assignments.
Learning is limitless, so why not make the sources of education the same? The internet is a pool of discovery, and it is clearly set to become essential to educating new generations in the best way possible. Young people use technology every day of their lives, whether this is for their own pleasure or in the working environment. But to have this in schools means getting them ahead in the competitive, professional world. To do this, reliable Wi-Fi connections in learning establishments is vital.