Dubbed the Samsung SMARTSchool, the state-of-the-art education and research hub intends to train aspiring teachers to become leaders in the tech ed space.
Professor Stephen Dobson, dean and head of School of Education, says the facility is more than just a collection of the latest gizmos and gadgets. Rather, the SPACEschool is designed to break down the walls between what’s learnt at university and the realities of the school classroom.
“…the whole idea of the Samsung SMARTSchool was to give the opportunity to help our preservice teachers to have this absolutely optimal understanding of what goes on in a classroom,” Dobson notes.
Effectively, the project is reimagining teacher education via technology.
“I have a phrase, it’s called a ‘permeable membrane’,” Dobson begins.
“It should be that Samsung SMARTSchool is just that interconnection between what happens in schools and what happens in the universities; and it’s not a barrier, it’s a facilitator. It’s a permeable membrane.”
One feature of the hub that’s adding oomph to Dobson’s vision is a specialised observation space, where groups can gather to watch and discuss real classes in action.
In fact, the whole world could potentially be watching.
“[Primary and secondary students will] have special sessions on STEM and the role of technology. They’ll still be very hands on, but kind of what makes it cutting-edge is that you’ll be able to watch it anywhere in Australia, or the world, so they’ll be streaming in and streaming out…
“So it becomes almost a hub or a way of [showing] ‘what is happening in education’.”
While teachers-in-training will have a suite of Samsung technologies at their disposal, including visual displays, smartphones, tablets, wearables and assorted VR headsets, Dobson says these are merely props to facilitate deeper learning.
“It’s that almost kind of irreplaceable but also extendable understanding of how you can use different technologies.
“So that is a really key thing here, because the technology we have today will be outdated in two, three, five years, but what stands there is that educational way of working with technology, so that’s what we are teaching our preservice teachers.”
Educational researchers hungry to build an evidence base for best practice are also rubbing their hands, because the SMARTSchool will also be a site for research and experimentation.
“It’s something which, while it’s built in Adelaide, it’s meant to be something that’s built for everybody ... to facilitate interactions and networks, and that’s what’s important,” Dobson says.