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Five key takeaways from Disruption Day's education talks

Andy Hasoon

How is the digital revolution taking place in the classroom? That is what a series of speakers looked to discover as part of The Drum's Disruption Day.

Alasdair Blackwell, co-founder of Decoded; Andy Hasoon, executive chairman at Milamber Ventures; Michael Johnston, strategy/business development director at Technology Will Save Us and Jonathan Simmons, director of Zone all spoke about how the education sector is changing, with each giving their views on what should be done to make sure children are learning all the essential skills.

Below, we take a look at five of the key points to come out of the sessions:

Learn by doing

A point agreed by all four speakers, it is no longer good enough to just rely on a textbook for learning.

Hasoon pointed out that if we read something today, two weeks later we'll only have a 10 per cent recall of what was read. However, if you do something, this increases to between 70 and 80 per cent recal after a fortnight.

"We started learning through lecture and scribe. In the 1980s Harvard started to bring in case studies. In the 1930s, they started teaching pilots how to fly using simulators," he said.

It is this process that brings across the key concept of learning by doing.

Johnston agreed. His company has created different products, including DIY Gaming and DIY Chatter to allow children to create their own projects.

Two of the games available on these devices were actually written by a teenager and the apps have been used by children as young as three years old, showing anyone can learn through doing.

Introduce brands into the education sector

You can use brand scale to help deliver in classrooms, Simmons said.

Zone worked with Tesco to turn the brand into a platform as part of the national food debate. Going straight to teachers to discover what was actually wanted and needed, it was discovered that schools had less money for school trips. However, the schools also needed content, which tied into the national curriculum.

For this, Tesco turned to its suppliers, using Google Hangouts to teach multiple classrooms at a time about the jobs of people such as Montry from Thailand, who makes rice.

"Over 250,000 children were reached. But it's not just about reach, it's about creating high quality content."

And if, at a time of tightening goverment budgets, this can be done with the help of brands, Simmons suggested this should not be ignored.

"I think we have to lose the sense that they are 'just the commercial guys'," he said, with focus to instead be on what can be provided.

BBC's make it digital campaign will transform the environment

The Make it Digital campaign that the BBC is set to run throughout 2015 "will do wonders" to help to teach children about coding, enthused Blackwell.

With part of the campaign starting already, including a Doctor Who game and the launch of materials on Bitesize, this is a way to make coding seem more accessible to everyone.

All of the speakers brought up the effect that the BBC year long campaign will bring the world of coding into schools.

People learn in different ways

"I'm dyslexic, so I learn in a different way to other people," said Hasoon. However, although some people learn best through pictures, and others by writing the same things out over and over, everyone needs to take exams in the same format.

People are more likely to learn in short 15 to 20-minute bursts, he said.

As Blackwell pointed out, "you never really need to get taught anything, you need to learn it yourself".

The education system is changing

"Don't be upset about education. The sub-culture of teachers out there, they just need a bit of help and support. But don't worry about it: change is happening," insisted Johnston.

Despite this, he admitted that the length of time it takes to change anything in the national curriculum is a barrier.

He was not alone in this view.

Simmons stated his belief that we are in the middle of a revolution that will see the system change by 2025.

Although there is still some way to go, the current school model has been disrupted, and it will not be long until change is undeniable.

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