Future School Here Today: RG Channel

From Da Vinci’s futuristic flying machines to Jules Verne’s “phonotelephote” (video conferencing) and onwards to H. G. Wells’ time machine, history is filled with examples of ideas preceding technological ability.

Since Plato’s first documentation of Socrates’ teachings, ideas of “magical” classrooms with seamless information transfer have been suggested and even realised in education. Where would we be without ink and paper, the printing press and more recently the personal computer and the internet?

While fibre broadband is the evolutionary successor to dial-up access, it has enabled a revolutionary change in education today. Sure, fibre cannot take all the credit and we still have to thank cellular technology and mobile computing, but it is the backbone for which we can access and more importantly provide information on demand.

For RG Channel Future School this is especially true. We are a “Future School” in the truest sense of the words. All our students are provided with iPads, all the lessons are designed for multi-sensory stimuli, and both students and parents have access to our curriculum both in and out of our school.

Singapore’s fibre network ensures that students have sufficient bandwidth to access our content, but more importantly it has provided us with a cost effective solution to host our own servers on a fast, resilient and symmetrical upload/download data pipeline. Previous technologies like ISDN or a T1 line were too expensive, with ADSL being cheaper but asymmetric thus slower.

So what is this future school framework that RG Channel provides?

Generally, we believe that future school lessons can be divided into the following components: teacher directed, student directed, collaboration focused and parent centred.

In a teacher directed future school lesson, with the help of fibre broadband, the teacher uses the iPad to deliver multimedia videos, podcasts and graphical content. The reason for this as opposed to the whiteboard is because research has shown that teaching using multi-sensory media is more effective than the traditional lecture style.

Another type of future school lesson is student directed. Parents can probably identify with this type of learning because schools conduct e-learning days every year. Students do not attend school, but instead stay home for a couple of days where they have to login to a Learning Management System (LMS) via the web and go through packaged lessons and assignments in the LMS. One benefit is that the student can go through the lessons multiple times to ensure they have absorbed the whole lesson.

Collaboration focused is the third type of future school lesson. These lessons expect students to collaborate with their peers, either by participating in forums, jointly creating a wiki or submitting cloud-based documents. This is very popular in college and adult learning where students sign up for a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) where they can learn almost anything. With an eventual outcome sometimes being a certificate or degree.

Finally, from a parent centred perspective, we believe that parents are the main navigators of their child’s educational growth. Parents need to be provided with continuous feedback and information on their child’s work and progress. It has been proven that the most consistent predictor of a child’s academic success and social adjustment is the parent. Thus a future school has to provide not just reports, but also to provide suggestions for how parents can intervene, while giving access to videos and logs of their child’s activities in classes.

Each of the future school lesson components have their strengths and weakness and we believe that a combination of these components is the best way to learn. Here at RG Channel, we put our money where our mouth is for all our English lessons.

For example, we want to teach students how to write a narrative about accidents in school (a very popular essay topic). To engage the students, we start by using a teacher directed method to draw the interest of the students by showing a video of an accident to the students from Youtube. We even look at the comments from the videos so start a group discussion.

Secondly, we have the students view a series of prepared lessons on our iPad App. Here we use interactive games and passages to give the students more knowledge about accidents. They are also encouraged to do additional online research on the topic. Consequently students then use our school’s assignment module to complete a self-test to ensure they have achieved their learning objectives.

Next, we ask the students to pair up to write a wiki or create a short video narration about an accident. They do their project and upload it to a cloud platform, on which they can edit, discuss and complete the project collaboratively.

Finally, at the end of all this, parents are able to log on to RG Channel’s App and get a view of the work done, read teacher comments, and provide feedback.

Not all components have to be used all the time, nor used in a particular order. At RG Channel Future School we mix and match, still making use of traditional teaching methods, while adding our future school framework to help and enhance the learning experience. Delivery of lessons, content and even assessment are now easy, engaging and more effective.

As you can see, the underlying linchpin to a revolutionary future school is a connection which provides cost effective, fast, reliable and ubiquitous communication of information. That linchpin is dial-up’s evolutionary successor: Fibre Broadband.

And thanks to Fibre Broadband the future school is here today: RG Channel Future School.