Three School Scenarios

education / scenarios
In consequence of recurrent budget cuts and increasing teacher shortage many smaller schools have closed down. Hence also the local school of Bob (13y) forcing him to attend a larger school in the nearest town. For Bob this means dramatically extended transport each way and therefore a programme of distant learning have been established for him and other pupils living far from the school. Three days a week they can stay home and attend classes by means of direct video-link or play back of recorded lessons.

Alice (12y), who is living in a larger town, still have her school nearby, but it has grown to ten times the size within the last few years, as surrounding villages’ school have closed down.

Bob’s teachers work together as a team across subject boundaries and extensively apply ICT such as math and science software, computer games and speech synthesizing (for language training). They also include the students’ mobile devices in their teaching programmes. This way they try to make up for a chronic shortage of qualified teachers, and to personalize the learning experience as much as possible.

Contrarily Alice’s teachers all work separately and are reluctant to embrace the newest technologies for fear that they loose control of the teaching. But they are often compelled to use video recordings or “blackboard casts” of lectures in order to cover the prescribed number of lesson with a severely reduced staffing.

The overall model of teaching in both Alice’s and Bob’s classes is very similar to the methods their parents experienced; and even though there are frequent criticism of the quality of education from both parents, politicians and media, there is also a sense of security in the fact that school is recognizable to both parents and policy makers. This struggle between the demand for higher performance and the attraction of the familiar keeps the school in a deadlock, with no real prospect of change. One visible result of this situation is, that both Alice and Bob often experience replacement of teachers, because the younger teachers are tempted by attractive offers in other lines of business.

Bob logs on to the PEEPBob’s (13y) school day begins at 8:10 am, when he logs on to the Public Electronic Education Portal (PEEP) using his tablet.

The PEEP was establish concurrently with the closing down of the last public schools in the area and is powered by a network of universities in collaboration with private enterprises. Each student receive credits to buy education packets of their choice.

The edu-packs contain video lectures, exercises and assignments and the possibility of consulting teachers or fellow students. Some packets offers advanced AI driven learning programmes. The market for edu-packs has exploded in resent years making it very difficult to overview what is offered and to choose sensibly. This has opened up a new marked for education advisors helping students (and their parents) to choose the right edu-packs.

In reality Bob can log on to PEEP anytime and anywhere, but he has been advised to keep a regular time schedule to discipline and focus his learning better.

Twice a month Bob travel to the downtown Education Mall (a converted school building), where ten private and public service providers of education have various facilities. Here he can do experiments in a Science Center, attend session in a Language Lab or working in an Arts and Craft Workshop. The Education Mall also host the Regional Educational Assessment Centre Team (REACT), where Bob gets his biannual learning evaluation.

Alice's reading timeAlice (12y) has an appointment with her study group at 9 am in the learning hub at the local school. A study group is a group of learners of mixed age, working on a common project or with comparable learning objectives.

The study groups have completely replaces classes (same-age groups) as basic structure.

The learning hub is an area to accommodate 70-100 pupils and a team of 4-5 teachers. It functions as a wholly autonomous group – a little school in the big school. A learning hub has the appearance of a diner a café or other social meeting place with a choice of different work spaces for groups and individuals to use.

The rest of the group is already waiting at the counter in the back of the room, when Alice arrive; except Bob. He is unable to join them today, but the others inform Alice, that he will be online from 9:30, so they can involve him in their work.

Behind the counter a teacher, a guest expert or an older pupil is waiting to help them with resources or advice.

The group checks if one of the snugs are vacant. A snug is a cubicle for group work that offers some  privacy while allowing sound to pass overhead creating a sense of being in one classroom without being disturbed. Being outside the hub, you can glance over the wall to check, if it is occupied. And yes, there is one available.

They work for an hour (including Bob on a video-link) and then split up. Alice checks her personal curriculum to find out what to do next. If she is in doubt, she can consult one of the teachers – preferably her tutor, who will help her find suitable assignments and collaborators and set new learning objectives. The rest of the morning Alice works on her own curled up in one of the reading caves with an e-reader.