A death was announced today in the Times. The newspaper covered the 'demise' of the university lecture theatre. The news created a small stir on social media, with several educators opining about what they thought of lecture theatres, their place in universities, the role of technology, and teaching and learning in general.

It seems that the subject of the article, the University of Northampton (one of the newest universities in the UK) has decided to do away with their traditional raked lecture theatres, and replace them with more open, flat, flexible spaces where teaching can be conducted. The picture above (an artists impression) depicts a lectern and a wall of screens at one end of a carpeted room, with chairs and tables dotted around, cabaret style.

What would happen if someone created a digital platform that schools could use to connect with businesses, experts and industry? Imagine what it would be like if children could talk directly via a video link or webinar to a famous author, musician, astronaut, or polar explorer? How might this inspire them to pursue a similar career when they left school? The same might apply to a train driver, a doctor, a chef or an engineer, I'm guessing.

Watching my colleagues from around the UK posting images of themselves with their new cohorts of students gives me mixed feelings.

On the one hand, now I'm no longer teaching in higher education, I feel as though I'm missing out on something that has been a part of my life for the past two decades.

On the other, I feel a huge sense of relief that I'm no longer involved with all the behind the scenes admin and trivia that all teachers have to endure.
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Where does knowledge come from? As teachers we trade in knowledge on a daily basis, but how often do we think about its provenance? We could argue that the majority of what we 'know' derives from our ability to be able to think, to reason, to reflect, to ask questions - our higher cognitive processes. Curiosity provides the impetus for us to be able to investigate the universe we are in. Exploration and discovery have formed the basis of all scientific endeavour.
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Hidden away in the heart of the ancient Barbican area of Plymouth, England are the authentic Mayflower Steps. You probably know the story. In 1620, a little ship set sail from the South Devon port and launched out across the great Atlantic Ocean, carrying a contingent of around one hundred Pilgrims - mainly Puritan folk - and abut thirty crew. When they eventually arrived in the New World they established one of the first colonies on the East coast of what is now the United States of America.
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The image on this page is from a 1969 exhibition in Hanover, Germany. It's a simulation of how the photographer imagined working in an office would look like in the year 2000. The size of the monitors on the console reflects the technology of the time, which was bulky and heavy, reliant on cathode ray tubes. Today's screens are slim and lightweight, due to rapid the development digital technology and relentless miniaturisation of components in recent years.
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Back in 1959, when television was still monochrome, and movie films ruled the entertainment industry, people were already dreaming about how we could capture the moving image for home use. Video recorders were very much in their infancy. The first commercially available video recording device wasn't available until 1956, and the more affordable home video cassette recorders (VCRs) such as VHS and Betamax would not be seen in homes for at least another two decades.

In a conversation with Sugata Mitra several years ago, the novelist Arthur C. Clarke stated: 'Any teacher who can be replaced by a computer ... should be.'

Clark was right of course. Teachers cannot be compared to machines, and should certainly never function as such. If they do, then they aren't teaching. Good, effective teachers are intuitive, empathetic and responsive to the needs of their students.
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