John Bingham: Education may be evolving every day but we still need the human touch
Thursday 15 November 2007
About 15 or 20 years ago, I remember a key person from the education sector talking confidently about how students in further education would, in the end, no longer go into colleges to be taught face-to-face but learn via technology using modems at home. All learning, he said, would be online. We now know this isn't the reality and is never likely to be because there is no substitute for human interface. Technology complements teaching – it doesn't replace it.
We have become far more sophisticated in our predictions of the future of further education. We no longer make rash generalisations and in regard to many areas, we can make thorough, meticulous forecasts about what lies in store for the sector. The direct result of this is that the future feels not scary but exciting. Many colleges have already taken great leaps into this future. More than that, they are shaping the future themselves.
The Association of College's (AoC) annual conference this year will address this topic, and I know that a range of people – from those at Government level to those at the frontline – will be embracing the issue wholeheartedly centre stage.
Among the biggest challenges for our sector in preparing for the future is becoming increasingly demand-led. Leitch outlined the need in his review and one of the things that the conference will explore is how we can do this. It's not good enough for employers – or indeed colleges – to prattle on about the issue and leave it at that. What are employers' demands? How can colleges best respond both now and in five years' time? It's not always as well defined as it should be. We need to be both visionary about it and also think more about the finer detail.
Our sector must never be accused of being introverted and, as such, the AoC has invited a variety of first class speakers from outside FE to speak at our conference. Bob Geldof has a unique perspective and with his dedicated focus on the world's future, his presence at this year's conference could not be more timely. I suspect that many others, including Jim Knight MP, will also inject dynamism into the conference and its focus.
The number of college principals speaking at this year's conference reveals both the breadth and strength of the passion that is felt towards preparing for the future within the sector itself. It also shows the abilities and intellectual base in FE, which is often ignored.
There is a huge number of exciting things going on that they will be talking about – from use of ICT to teaching enterprise to forging partnerships. We are getting better all the time at sharing good practice and I think the sheer quantity of conference seminars led by those at the frontline illustrates this well.
It seems to me that we are also focusing on diversity this year. Among the seminar topics are a look at what the FE sector is doing Down Under while another looks at how students and staff of all faiths can work together. These issues are key if we are to keep up our reputation as being a socially inclusive sector of education.
I want delegates to leave this year's conference with a reinforced view of the AoC and the importance we have in working for them on behalf of the sector. Above and beyond this, I want people to go away with refreshed sense of vibrancy about FE not only for today but for tomorrow. And perhaps most importantly, I want them to go away having enjoyed it.
John Bingham is Chair of the board of the Association of Colleges
Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
Mohammed Emwazi: Family of man named as 'Jihadi John' described by neighbours as 'normal Muslim family'
Mohammed Emwazi: Nine things we know about Isis militant 'Jihadi John'
Mohammed Emwazi: Man identified as Isis killer 'Jihadi John' 'stopped by MI5' while on safari holiday in Africa in 2010
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
- 1 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 2 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 3 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...
£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...
£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...