The clank of thick steel wheels as they are forced to clamber up concrete steps. A huge box, perched precariously upon a wooden cage of concern. With screeching axles and faulty foot breaks the creature emerges into the classroom. The tension is palpable, the dust upon the beast’s shell so thick you could write the entirety of War and Peace on it let alone your name or please wash me. Ploughing it’s way to the front through a sea of kneecaps and scuffed shoes it reaches it’s final destination, it’s Everest, it’s home. Well home for a good thirty minutes. With hushed murmurs blonde and brown bonces lean in whispering excitedly, what will it be, they wonder, what treat is in store? The ammunition is retrieved from the safety box and the cartridge fed into the monster’s gaping mouth, clunking and whirring as the cogs slot into place. With bated breath the children pause as their leader hits a button on the remote, here it comes! Any second now! Suddenly, deafeningly a heart-breaking sound fills the room! CLUNK! Everyone sighs. It needs rewinding.
Yes that’s right, the vintage TV, the vintage video player and the vintage attitudes to the use of such media were once as regular a part of schooling as semolina and Batman lunchboxes. However in the last few years the education world has been given an injection in the arm in the world of modern media. It is no longer a ten minute affair that requires risk assessments, maps and a Sherpa guide to try and fit a tele unit larger than a professional Sumo wrestler into the classroom. New media, if we can still actually call it that, has opened up worlds that for some of our children may have been totally unknown until school. The introduction of YouTube and the fact that the majority of schools have now woken up to it’s value has revolutionised education. No longer do teachers need to describe the Amazon using just words. They can show their children, take them there, immerse them in the noise and wonders of a world thousands of miles away. Whereas once there was a flickering VHS cassette of a BBC documentary from the 80s now we have Sir David in all his glory showing us an ant knitting or a platypus having a pint, well not quite but you get my drift. These things astound us as adults, but not all adults will show these things to their children, if our job is to impart knowledge, to share and grow a love of learning and the world, then experiencing this kind of moment has to be on our list of must haves. If we are aiming for a broad and rich curriculum this is it. This is the opportunity.
However it doesn’t end there. We aren’t just limited to the content being made for TV and being put on the internet anymore. This new wave of media has brought with it graphic animation. Rob Smith’s wonderful Literacy Shed has wrapped up a world of animation videos in a neat little box for teachers up and down the country and across the globe. Not petrifying your class with the haunting Alma video that sits neatly in Rob’s box is almost as unforgivable as Secondary students not being made to study Shakespeare (we had to do it, they can too). These wonderful animations provide children with relatable content that is structured in a way that specifically lends itself to supporting learning opportunities. If you’ve not visited The Shed, you must!
But no, the wonders don’t end there even! Virtual reality! Augmented reality! There’s a difference, so I’m told. This stuff is the future. Give it ten years it will be everywhere. Once it’s affordable every school will have it. Being able to transport your children to Ancient Rome’s famous monuments. The sights, the sounds. Genuinely imagine it for a minute. Being able to stand on the side of a mountain and have a narrator guide you through the course of a river that lies before you! This is the future my friends, this is where education is going. The rickety tele that was rolled out once a year is dead and rusting. DVDs even, a thing of the past. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Be grateful we are witnessing what has been and will continue to be perhaps the most significant change in the delivery of education since the blackboard was thrown out or the milk snatched away.
No longer is the metal monster that clanks up the stairs actually a TV, it really can be a monster, you can make it come through the window. This change is happening.