From education to employment

We ask Liz Sproat: What is Google’s vision for the #FutureofEducation

Liz Sproat, Head of Education EMEA, Google

What do you see to be the future of education from a Google perspective?

I think now is absolutely the best time to be in education. There is such tremendous opportunity being brought about through the use of technology in the whole industry is really, really keen to bring better benefits to teachers and learners.

If we think about even what’s available today with the huge explosion in cloud computing there really is no reason why universities, colleges and schools should be having to pay and manage large I.T. infrastructures.

Actually here in the UK there’s more that their schools and universities and customers could be gaining benefits by moving into the cloud. Perhaps, that’s on the kind of more administrative and infrastructure side of what technology can bring.

Technology making a benefit to people’s lives

On a personal level, I get really excited when I see technology making a benefit to people’s lives be that teachers helping them to be more efficient, or be it in engaging and exciting students.

On that latter area there’s lots of new technology coming into the space. So for example, Google Cardboard which allows you to take students on virtual field trips.

There’s a huge story there really about democratizing access to knowledge and experience. I myself was brought up in the northwest of England and actually never really imagined I’d ever even visit America, let alone be in the role I have now.

As a child it would have been incredibly powerful to expose me either to different parts of the world or different career options.

I think through things like Google cardboard and expeditions we’re able to really show children that there are multiple different pathways available to them and excite them and give them a kind of energy and ambition to follow their dreams have a passion for what they want to do.

What you see the future of community and work based learning?

I think that access is really, really important. When you acknowledge that technology is changing our industries, it’s probable that all of us are going to have to adapt our career paths.

When you also recognize that people grow and at different stages in their lives, technology affords an opportunity for people to learn in non-traditional methods.

To be better at what they’re doing today, or again perhaps really excitingly, to alter their lives and take new career paths. I’ve got a really lovely example of a student I met at Leeds City College, two actually.

One is a girl who actually was studying for an electrical engineering degree and she had a young 6 month old baby.

Because Leeds City College was using technology so innovatively, despite all the pressures of being a young mum, she was able to keep her sense of college even at times when she wasn’t able to be physically in the classroom.

They had a great classroom actually because they also had a boy in that class who was a national diving champion. He had to travel overseas a lot to do his competitions. He was using technology to stay connected into the classroom.

That whole concept of being connected, being able to continue with your studies is very vital one.

Democratization of access to expertise

The other area though that excites me is and the democratization of access to expertise. We’ve seen some really nice examples of MOOCs coming out from fantastic universities.

Through the power of technology, there suddenly becomes that capacity to learn from the very best, to see things in a new way, so using VR or AR to actually experience a medical procedure.

Ways of making that work based learning experience more real and more grounded in the practical realities of whatever position you might be in, or through learning from real experts in the field.

Liz Sproat, Head of Education EMEA, Google

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