Teaching Tech

27th Jan 2016

Undoubtedly one of the most important parts of any society is its education system. However, walk into some UK classrooms and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were stumbling into an alternate reality.

Recently I visited my child’s school and was interested to see how teaching had changed in the past five years. There was an interactive whiteboard instead of the classic blackboard and some of the children were glued to tablets, but there was still plenty of paper, textbooks and pens flying around.

The most interesting thing to me was that the layout of the classroom hadn’t changed a jot. The desks were still pointing towards the teacher at the front of the class. In June 2014 Marc Prensky published ‘The World needs a new curriculum”, with the suitably catchy tag line “we cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future’, ignoring the slight Darwinian undertone, I couldn’t agree more.

Education needs to learn from advertising, social media and gaming platforms, to create a fully-digital, personalised and future proof learning experience. However there is a fine balance of technology involved in this process. Rather than looking to put more technology in classrooms, we need to effectively utilise what schools already have to deliver an immersive yet scalable teaching model.

For online courses like Coursera, growing demand means applications and websites have to scale to millions of users, support a variety of open content and ultimately adapt and analyse huge swaths of data. McGraw-Hill Education (MHE) is a traditional media publishing company, which took lessons from other industries to create a fully digital learning experience. They used NoSQL database technology to deliver a higher education platform that’s scalable, consistent and flexible.

This disruptive NoSQL (non-relational) database technology provides a flexible data model that traditional SQL (relational) databases just cannot – including indexing and querying and full-text search integration – on which companies can develop content-rich, highly dynamic, interactive applications that will transform how people teach and learn.

Choosing the right database is fundamental to the success of progressive educational institutions. It allows them to harness technology to enhance learning inside and outside the classroom, deepening relationships and changing the way we teach. NoSQL resolves problems for a fraction of the cost, and remains entirely future proof, providing the stability and resilience we expect from our teachers in the 21st century.

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