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Friday, 16 June, 2000, 01:55 GMT 02:55 UK
Beam me up, teacher
Computers in school
Computers will transform schools, says the report
Classrooms of the future could become computer-generated "virtual" spaces, says a report published by a teachers' union.

The future impact of new technology on schools has been forecast in a research paper commissioned by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

Within two decades the traditional pattern of learning could have been re-invented, says Alan Pritchard of Warwick University, in his paper, Education.com: an Introduction to Learning, Teaching and ICT.


The role of the teacher will certainly change, but it will not evaporate into the ether

Alan Pritchard
Instead of a formal classroom setting, the research predicts a "learning space" which could be spread across a range of physical locations, using video-conferencing and virtual reality images.

But the idea of a "teacherless classroom" has been rejected by the report, which says that there will still be a need for a teacher to interpret material and guide pupils.

Social learning

Apart from the academic function of schools, the report points to the importance of education as a socialising process, in which a teacher is a vital ingredient.

"The school as a place for social learning will not disappear as a result of the increased use of ICT. The role of the teacher will certainly change, but it will not evaporate into the ether," writes Mr Pritchard.

But for teachers to take advantage of information technology they will need to be trained and confident in its use, so that it will be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat.

The union is staging a one-day conference on Learning, Teaching and ICT in London on Saturday.

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