Story/Interview November 7, 2022
Making lessons memorable with innovation and technology
Innovation is about defying limitations. That’s what our Head of Educational Technology, Anthony Peters, says. With a decade of experience in education and technology, he sees limitless potential in using tech to make learning revolutionary for teachers and students.
Thanks to tools like VR, AR and AI, there’s almost nothing we can’t do now. Ant says there’s no excuse to not make every day special. After all, lessons are to be enjoyed, never endured.
Anthony has always been fascinated with psychology, language, and how people learn. He studied a triple honours degree in Psychology, English Language and Linguistics, then a master’s degree in Sociolinguistics. After this, he decided to become a teacher. He taught at South Africa’s first Google and Apple accredited school, which sparked his interest in technology.
Tools such as virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) are all making a profound impact on the world, but people usually associate these with the sciences. Anthony saw things differently. “Language is so dynamic, it can be applied to almost anything. It’s a powerful tool,” he says. “I wanted to show people how incredible technology and language can be together.”
Many English classes would have pupils solely reading the works of Shakespeare. But using technology, Anthony can do a lot more than that. He can create avatars for the characters using AR, or take learners on a trip to The Globe Theatre with VR. For the latter, geographical distance isn’t an issue. “I can bring all these wonderful things to life, regardless of where students are in the world,” Ant says. “I can bring everyone together in the name of learning and ignite the students’ imagination and appreciation for The Bard!”
With a decade’s experience in advocating for technology, Anthony tries new things all the time. But he never uses technology for technology’s sake. Everything must have a meaningful output, in service of education. “Any new tech should increase engagement, as well as encourage deeper critical thinking and application of skills in the modern world,” he tells us. “That’s what I want pupils to experience.”
“Language is so dynamic, it can be applied to almost anything. I wanted to show people how incredible technology and language can be together.”
Every Day is Special
We ask Anthony to share examples of innovation doing wonders in the classroom. He recalls a time where he used AR to bring a story to life. All of his learners became active participants in that story. He says it was mind-blowing for them, and that many forgot they were at school.
“I was asking comprehension questions throughout the story without students even knowing they’re actually learning. That was a win for me. If you’re in school for seven hours a day, you should be loving every minute of it.” His students were asking why they can’t live within stories, and why can’t they do this kind of activity all the time.
What does it take to recreate this kind of magic? Anthony says a love and expertise for your chosen subject, and imagination. Once you have both of these, the possibilities are limitless. “There’s no excuse not to make every day special.”
You might think getting teachers on-board with new technology comes with a few challenges. But Anthony tells us this isn’t true. Teachers often get just as excited at students about using innovative learning tools. He notes how significant this is. “It’s almost more important to nurture the teachers, because they’re going to influence generations of students.”
For Anthony, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing learners understand something they previously thought impossible. “We can tackle challenges in a different way. When you make something complicated seem easy, that’s an incredible feeling.”
“It's almost more important to nurture the teachers with a love of technology, because they're going to influence generations of students.”
To Anthony, innovation is about removing the boundaries of limitation. It’s about using technology to move education forward, and make it relevant for students. That’s why he’s always trying new things, and recommends anyone wanting a career like his do the same.
“Be fearless, and see what can be done with these tools in a lesson,” Anthony says. He also suggests starting your planning with where you’d like to end up. “Think of the outcomes you want for a lesson. Then try and find the most meaningful, exciting, and interesting way of getting there.”
It’s clear students are at the heart of everything Anthony does. “Lessons are to be enjoyed, never merely endured. That’s something I’ve tried to live by throughout my teaching career. With technology, there’s limitless potential. So give it your all!”
“Lessons are to be enjoyed, never endured. That’s something I’ve tried to live by throughout my teaching career. With technology, there’s limitless potential.”