IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|21. The role of technology

Match the pictures A-F with these uses of information technology

Discuss these questions before reading a passage about an innovative approach to teaching maths

1. What do you find particularly easy or difficult about working with numbers?

2. How much do you use the maths you studied at school in your daily life?

3. Which areas of maths do you find most useful?

Read the title and subheading and say what the article can focus on

Skim the passage and answer the questions briefly

pic3_IELTS|Upper-Int|L21

1. What is Khan Academy?

2. How is it changing education?

3. How do people feel about it?

The new way to be a fifth-grader

by Clive Thompson

Khan Academy is changing the rules of education.

I peer over his shoulder at his laptop screen to see the math problem the fifth-grader is pondering. It’s a trigonometry problem. Carpenter, a serious-faced ten-year-old, pauses for a second, fidgets, then clicks on «0 degrees.» The computer tells him that he’s correct. «It took a while for me to work it out,» he admits sheepishly. The software then generates another problem, followed by another, until eventually he’s done ten in a row.

Last November, his teacher, Kami Thordarson, began using Khan Academy in her class. It is an educational website on which students can watch some 2,400 videos. The videos are anything but sophisticated. At seven to 14 minutes long, they consist of a voiceover by the site’s founder, Salman Khan, chattily describing a mathematical concept or explaining how to solve a problem, while his hand-scribbled formulas and diagrams appear on-screen. As a student, you can review a video as many times as you want, scrolling back several times over puzzling parts and fast-forwarding through the boring bits you already know. Once you’ve mastered a video, you can move on to the next one.

Initially, Thordarson thought Khan Academy would merely be a helpful supplement to her normal instruction. But it quickly became far more than that. She is now on her way to «flipping» the way her class works. This involves replacing some of her lectures with Khan’s videos, which students can watch at home. Then in class, they focus on working on the problem areas together. The idea is to invert the normal rhythms of school, so that lectures are viewed in the children’s own time and homework is done at school. It sounds weird, Thordarson admits, but this reversal makes sense when you think about it. It is when they are doing homework that students are really grappling with a subject and are most likely to want someone to talk to. And Khan Academy provides teachers with a dashboard application that lets them see the instant a student gets stuck.

For years, teachers like Thordarson have complained about the frustrations of teaching to the «middle» of the class. They stand at the whiteboard trying to get 25 or more students to learn at the same pace. Advanced students get bored and tune out, lagging ones get lost and tune out, and pretty soon half the class is not paying attention. Since the rise of personal computers in the 1980s, educators have hoped that technology could save the day by offering lessons tailored to each child. Schools have spent millions of dollars on sophisticated classroom technology, but the effort has been in vain. The one-to-one instruction it requires is, after all, prohibitively expensive. What country can afford such a luxury?

Khan never intended to overhaul the school curricula and he doesn’t have a consistent, comprehensive plan for doing so. Nevertheless, some of his fans believe that he has stumbled onto the solution to education’s middle-of-the-class mediocrity. Most notable among them is Bill Gates, whose foundation has invested $1.5 million in Khan’s site. Students have pointed out that Khan is particularly good at explaining all the hidden, small steps in math problems — steps that teachers often gloss over. He has an uncanny ability to inhabit the mind of someone who doesn’t already understand something.

However, not all educators are enamoured with Khan and his site. Gary Stager, a longtime educational consultant and advocate of laptops in classrooms, thinks Khan Academy is not innovative at all. The videos and software modules, he contends, are just a high-tech version of the outdated teaching techniques — lecturing and drilling. Schools have become «joyless test-prep factories,» he says, and Khan Academy caters to this dismal trend.

As Sylvia Martinez, president of an organization focusing on technology in the classroom, puts it, «The things they’re doing are really just rote.» Flipping the classroom isn’t an entirely new idea, Martinez says, and she doubts that it would work for the majority of pupils: «I’m sorry, but if they can’t understand the lecture in a classroom, they’re not going to grasp it better when it’s done through a video at home.»

Another limitation of Khan’s site is that the drilling software can only handle questions where the answers are unambiguously right or wrong, like math or chemistry; Khan has relatively few videos on messier, grey-area subjects like history. Khan and Gates admit there is no easy way to automate the teaching of writing — even though it is just as critical as math.

Even if Khan is truly liberating students to advance at their own pace, it is not clear that schools will be able to cope. The very concept of grade levels implies groups of students moving along together at an even pace. So what happens when, using Khan Academy, you wind up with a ten-year-old who has already mastered high-school physics? Khan’s programmer, Ben Kamens, has heard from teachers who have seen Khan Academy presentations and loved the idea but wondered whether they could modify it «to stop students from becoming this advanced.»

Khan’s success has injected him into the heated wars over school reform. Reformers today, by and large, believe student success should be carefully tested, with teachers and principals receiving better pay if their students advance more quickly. In essence, Khan doesn’t want to change the way institutions teach; he wants to change how people learn, whether they’re in a private school or a public school — or for that matter, whether they’re a student or an adult trying to self-educate in Ohio, Brazil, Russia, or India. One member of Khan’s staff is spearheading a drive to translate the videos into ten major languages. It’s classic start-up logic: do something novel, do it with speed, and the people who love it will find you.

adapted from Wired Magazine


Find the phrases from the left column in the passage. Then match the words in bold with the ideas they refer to

Writers often use reference words/phrases (e.g. it, such) to avoid repetition and to link different parts of the text.

Use 🔗Page Marker to complete this task

eLearning_task

Read questions 1-5 and underline the key ideas that tell you what information you need to read for

pic4_IELTS|Upper-Int|L21

pic5_IELTS|Upper-Int|L21

Exam tips

Multiple choice

1. For referencing questions, read around the word(s) carefully to find what the reference refers to. The answer may come before or after the reference.

2. For vocabulary questions, read before and after the word to understand the context.

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D for questions 1-5

The new way to be a fifth-grader

by Clive Thompson

Khan Academy is changing the rules of education.

I peer over his shoulder at his laptop screen to see the math problem the fifth-grader is pondering. It’s a trigonometry problem. Carpenter, a serious-faced ten-year-old, pauses for a second, fidgets, then clicks on «0 degrees.» The computer tells him that he’s correct. «It took a while for me to work it out,» he admits sheepishly. The software then generates another problem, followed by another, until eventually he’s done ten in a row.

Last November, his teacher, Kami Thordarson, began using Khan Academy in her class. It is an educational website on which students can watch some 2,400 videos. The videos are anything but sophisticated. At seven to 14 minutes long, they consist of a voiceover by the site’s founder, Salman Khan, chattily describing a mathematical concept or explaining how to solve a problem, while his hand-scribbled formulas and diagrams appear on-screen. As a student, you can review a video as many times as you want, scrolling back several times over puzzling parts and fast-forwarding through the boring bits you already know. Once you’ve mastered a video, you can move on to the next one.

Initially, Thordarson thought Khan Academy would merely be a helpful supplement to her normal instruction. But it quickly became far more than that. She is now on her way to «flipping» the way her class works. This involves replacing some of her lectures with Khan’s videos, which students can watch at home. Then in class, they focus on working on the problem areas together. The idea is to invert the normal rhythms of school, so that lectures are viewed in the children’s own time and homework is done at school. It sounds weird, Thordarson admits, but this reversal makes sense when you think about it. It is when they are doing homework that students are really grappling with a subject and are most likely to want someone to talk to. And Khan Academy provides teachers with a dashboard application that lets them see the instant a student gets stuck.

For years, teachers like Thordarson have complained about the frustrations of teaching to the «middle» of the class. They stand at the whiteboard trying to get 25 or more students to learn at the same pace. Advanced students get bored and tune out, lagging ones get lost and tune out, and pretty soon half the class is not paying attention. Since the rise of personal computers in the 1980s, educators have hoped that technology could save the day by offering lessons tailored to each child. Schools have spent millions of dollars on sophisticated classroom technology, but the effort has been in vain. The one-to-one instruction it requires is, after all, prohibitively expensive. What country can afford such a luxury?

Khan never intended to overhaul the school curricula and he doesn’t have a consistent, comprehensive plan for doing so. Nevertheless, some of his fans believe that he has stumbled onto the solution to education’s middle-of-the-class mediocrity. Most notable among them is Bill Gates, whose foundation has invested $1.5 million in Khan’s site. Students have pointed out that Khan is particularly good at explaining all the hidden, small steps in math problems — steps that teachers often gloss over. He has an uncanny ability to inhabit the mind of someone who doesn’t already understand something.

However, not all educators are enamoured with Khan and his site. Gary Stager, a longtime educational consultant and advocate of laptops in classrooms, thinks Khan Academy is not innovative at all. The videos and software modules, he contends, are just a high-tech version of the outdated teaching techniques — lecturing and drilling. Schools have become «joyless test-prep factories,» he says, and Khan Academy caters to this dismal trend.

As Sylvia Martinez, president of an organization focusing on technology in the classroom, puts it, «The things they’re doing are really just rote.» Flipping the classroom isn’t an entirely new idea, Martinez says, and she doubts that it would work for the majority of pupils: «I’m sorry, but if they can’t understand the lecture in a classroom, they’re not going to grasp it better when it’s done through a video at home.»

Another limitation of Khan’s site is that the drilling software can only handle questions where the answers are unambiguously right or wrong, like math or chemistry; Khan has relatively few videos on messier, grey-area subjects like history. Khan and Gates admit there is no easy way to automate the teaching of writing — even though it is just as critical as math.

Even if Khan is truly liberating students to advance at their own pace, it is not clear that schools will be able to cope. The very concept of grade levels implies groups of students moving along together at an even pace. So what happens when, using Khan Academy, you wind up with a ten-year-old who has already mastered high-school physics? Khan’s programmer, Ben Kamens, has heard from teachers who have seen Khan Academy presentations and loved the idea but wondered whether they could modify it «to stop students from becoming this advanced.»

Khan’s success has injected him into the heated wars over school reform. Reformers today, by and large, believe student success should be carefully tested, with teachers and principals receiving better pay if their students advance more quickly. In essence, Khan doesn’t want to change the way institutions teach; he wants to change how people learn, whether they’re in a private school or a public school — or for that matter, whether they’re a student or an adult trying to self-educate in Ohio, Brazil, Russia, or India. One member of Khan’s staff is spearheading a drive to translate the videos into ten major languages. It’s classic start-up logic: do something novel, do it with speed, and the people who love it will find you.

adapted from Wired Magazine

Underline key words in questions 6-10 which will help you scan to find the relevant parts of the passage

pic6_IELTS|Upper-Int|L21

pic7_IELTS|Upper-Int|L21

Exam tips

Yes/No/Not Given

1. Find words in the passage that are the same as, or similar to words in the question.

2. The answers will be in passage order. They may be found in the same block of text or in different parts of the passage.

Read the task in the green box and complete questions 6-10

Questions 6-10

Do the statements below agree with the claims of the writer in the reading passage?

Write:

Yes if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer

No if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer

Not Given if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

The new way to be a fifth-grader

by Clive Thompson

Khan Academy is changing the rules of education.

I peer over his shoulder at his laptop screen to see the math problem the fifth-grader is pondering. It’s a trigonometry problem. Carpenter, a serious-faced ten-year-old, pauses for a second, fidgets, then clicks on «0 degrees.» The computer tells him that he’s correct. «It took a while for me to work it out,» he admits sheepishly. The software then generates another problem, followed by another, until eventually he’s done ten in a row.

Last November, his teacher, Kami Thordarson, began using Khan Academy in her class. It is an educational website on which students can watch some 2,400 videos. The videos are anything but sophisticated. At seven to 14 minutes long, they consist of a voiceover by the site’s founder, Salman Khan, chattily describing a mathematical concept or explaining how to solve a problem, while his hand-scribbled formulas and diagrams appear on-screen. As a student, you can review a video as many times as you want, scrolling back several times over puzzling parts and fast-forwarding through the boring bits you already know. Once you’ve mastered a video, you can move on to the next one.

Initially, Thordarson thought Khan Academy would merely be a helpful supplement to her normal instruction. But it quickly became far more than that. She is now on her way to «flipping» the way her class works. This involves replacing some of her lectures with Khan’s videos, which students can watch at home. Then in class, they focus on working on the problem areas together. The idea is to invert the normal rhythms of school, so that lectures are viewed in the children’s own time and homework is done at school. It sounds weird, Thordarson admits, but this reversal makes sense when you think about it. It is when they are doing homework that students are really grappling with a subject and are most likely to want someone to talk to. And Khan Academy provides teachers with a dashboard application that lets them see the instant a student gets stuck.

For years, teachers like Thordarson have complained about the frustrations of teaching to the «middle» of the class. They stand at the whiteboard trying to get 25 or more students to learn at the same pace. Advanced students get bored and tune out, lagging ones get lost and tune out, and pretty soon half the class is not paying attention. Since the rise of personal computers in the 1980s, educators have hoped that technology could save the day by offering lessons tailored to each child. Schools have spent millions of dollars on sophisticated classroom technology, but the effort has been in vain. The one-to-one instruction it requires is, after all, prohibitively expensive. What country can afford such a luxury?

Khan never intended to overhaul the school curricula and he doesn’t have a consistent, comprehensive plan for doing so. Nevertheless, some of his fans believe that he has stumbled onto the solution to education’s middle-of-the-class mediocrity. Most notable among them is Bill Gates, whose foundation has invested $1.5 million in Khan’s site. Students have pointed out that Khan is particularly good at explaining all the hidden, small steps in math problems — steps that teachers often gloss over. He has an uncanny ability to inhabit the mind of someone who doesn’t already understand something.

However, not all educators are enamoured with Khan and his site. Gary Stager, a longtime educational consultant and advocate of laptops in classrooms, thinks Khan Academy is not innovative at all. The videos and software modules, he contends, are just a high-tech version of the outdated teaching techniques — lecturing and drilling. Schools have become «joyless test-prep factories,» he says, and Khan Academy caters to this dismal trend.

As Sylvia Martinez, president of an organization focusing on technology in the classroom, puts it, «The things they’re doing are really just rote.» Flipping the classroom isn’t an entirely new idea, Martinez says, and she doubts that it would work for the majority of pupils: «I’m sorry, but if they can’t understand the lecture in a classroom, they’re not going to grasp it better when it’s done through a video at home.»

Another limitation of Khan’s site is that the drilling software can only handle questions where the answers are unambiguously right or wrong, like math or chemistry; Khan has relatively few videos on messier, grey-area subjects like history. Khan and Gates admit there is no easy way to automate the teaching of writing — even though it is just as critical as math.

Even if Khan is truly liberating students to advance at their own pace, it is not clear that schools will be able to cope. The very concept of grade levels implies groups of students moving along together at an even pace. So what happens when, using Khan Academy, you wind up with a ten-year-old who has already mastered high-school physics? Khan’s programmer, Ben Kamens, has heard from teachers who have seen Khan Academy presentations and loved the idea but wondered whether they could modify it «to stop students from becoming this advanced.»

Khan’s success has injected him into the heated wars over school reform. Reformers today, by and large, believe student success should be carefully tested, with teachers and principals receiving better pay if their students advance more quickly. In essence, Khan doesn’t want to change the way institutions teach; he wants to change how people learn, whether they’re in a private school or a public school — or for that matter, whether they’re a student or an adult trying to self-educate in Ohio, Brazil, Russia, or India. One member of Khan’s staff is spearheading a drive to translate the videos into ten major languages. It’s classic start-up logic: do something novel, do it with speed, and the people who love it will find you.

adapted from Wired Magazine

Underline key ideas in each of the options and use the names in the questions to find the relevant parts of the passage

pic8_IELTS|Upper-Int|L21

pic9_IELTS|Upper-Int|L21

Exam tips

Matching sentence endings

1. Underline the key ideas in the options.

2. Use names and other words in the questions to find the right places in the passage. (You will find them in the same order.)

3. Read the completed sentences to check they make sense.

Complete questions 11-14 with the options A-G in the green box

The new way to be a fifth-grader

by Clive Thompson

Khan Academy is changing the rules of education.

I peer over his shoulder at his laptop screen to see the math problem the fifth-grader is pondering. It’s a trigonometry problem. Carpenter, a serious-faced ten-year-old, pauses for a second, fidgets, then clicks on «0 degrees.» The computer tells him that he’s correct. «It took a while for me to work it out,» he admits sheepishly. The software then generates another problem, followed by another, until eventually he’s done ten in a row.

Last November, his teacher, Kami Thordarson, began using Khan Academy in her class. It is an educational website on which students can watch some 2,400 videos. The videos are anything but sophisticated. At seven to 14 minutes long, they consist of a voiceover by the site’s founder, Salman Khan, chattily describing a mathematical concept or explaining how to solve a problem, while his hand-scribbled formulas and diagrams appear on-screen. As a student, you can review a video as many times as you want, scrolling back several times over puzzling parts and fast-forwarding through the boring bits you already know. Once you’ve mastered a video, you can move on to the next one.

Initially, Thordarson thought Khan Academy would merely be a helpful supplement to her normal instruction. But it quickly became far more than that. She is now on her way to «flipping» the way her class works. This involves replacing some of her lectures with Khan’s videos, which students can watch at home. Then in class, they focus on working on the problem areas together. The idea is to invert the normal rhythms of school, so that lectures are viewed in the children’s own time and homework is done at school. It sounds weird, Thordarson admits, but this reversal makes sense when you think about it. It is when they are doing homework that students are really grappling with a subject and are most likely to want someone to talk to. And Khan Academy provides teachers with a dashboard application that lets them see the instant a student gets stuck.

For years, teachers like Thordarson have complained about the frustrations of teaching to the «middle» of the class. They stand at the whiteboard trying to get 25 or more students to learn at the same pace. Advanced students get bored and tune out, lagging ones get lost and tune out, and pretty soon half the class is not paying attention. Since the rise of personal computers in the 1980s, educators have hoped that technology could save the day by offering lessons tailored to each child. Schools have spent millions of dollars on sophisticated classroom technology, but the effort has been in vain. The one-to-one instruction it requires is, after all, prohibitively expensive. What country can afford such a luxury?

Khan never intended to overhaul the school curricula and he doesn’t have a consistent, comprehensive plan for doing so. Nevertheless, some of his fans believe that he has stumbled onto the solution to education’s middle-of-the-class mediocrity. Most notable among them is Bill Gates, whose foundation has invested $1.5 million in Khan’s site. Students have pointed out that Khan is particularly good at explaining all the hidden, small steps in math problems — steps that teachers often gloss over. He has an uncanny ability to inhabit the mind of someone who doesn’t already understand something.

However, not all educators are enamoured with Khan and his site. Gary Stager, a longtime educational consultant and advocate of laptops in classrooms, thinks Khan Academy is not innovative at all. The videos and software modules, he contends, are just a high-tech version of the outdated teaching techniques — lecturing and drilling. Schools have become «joyless test-prep factories,» he says, and Khan Academy caters to this dismal trend.

As Sylvia Martinez, president of an organization focusing on technology in the classroom, puts it, «The things they’re doing are really just rote.» Flipping the classroom isn’t an entirely new idea, Martinez says, and she doubts that it would work for the majority of pupils: «I’m sorry, but if they can’t understand the lecture in a classroom, they’re not going to grasp it better when it’s done through a video at home.»

Another limitation of Khan’s site is that the drilling software can only handle questions where the answers are unambiguously right or wrong, like math or chemistry; Khan has relatively few videos on messier, grey-area subjects like history. Khan and Gates admit there is no easy way to automate the teaching of writing — even though it is just as critical as math.

Even if Khan is truly liberating students to advance at their own pace, it is not clear that schools will be able to cope. The very concept of grade levels implies groups of students moving along together at an even pace. So what happens when, using Khan Academy, you wind up with a ten-year-old who has already mastered high-school physics? Khan’s programmer, Ben Kamens, has heard from teachers who have seen Khan Academy presentations and loved the idea but wondered whether they could modify it «to stop students from becoming this advanced.»

Khan’s success has injected him into the heated wars over school reform. Reformers today, by and large, believe student success should be carefully tested, with teachers and principals receiving better pay if their students advance more quickly. In essence, Khan doesn’t want to change the way institutions teach; he wants to change how people learn, whether they’re in a private school or a public school — or for that matter, whether they’re a student or an adult trying to self-educate in Ohio, Brazil, Russia, or India. One member of Khan’s staff is spearheading a drive to translate the videos into ten major languages. It’s classic start-up logic: do something novel, do it with speed, and the people who love it will find you.

adapted from Wired Magazine


Complete each sentence with the correct ending A-G

A is only suited to subjects where questions have exact answers.

B can teach both the strongest and the weakest pupils in a class.

C means the teaching of other school subjects will have to be changed.

D only prepares students to pass exams.

E could cause student achievement to improve too quickly.

F requires all students to own the necessary technology.

G is unlikely to have a successful outcome for most students.

Match the halves to make a collocation from the reading passage

pic10_IELTS|Upper-Int|L21


Use the words from the list to complete the text. Change the part of speech where necessary

Tick the points in the list which correspond to the speaking assessment criteria

pic11_IELTS|Upper-Int|L21


Choose the speaking part 1, 2 or 3 and answer the corresponding questions

  1. Are you good with technology?
  2. Do you have your own computer at home? What do you use it for?
  3. How much time a day do you usually spend surfing the net?
  4. What is your favourite piece of technology? What do you use it for?
  5. Do your parents know much about computers, smartphones and so on?


Describe the most expensive piece of technology you own.

You should say:

  • what the piece of technology is;
  • how much it cost and where you bought it;
  • what you use it for and how often you use it

and whether or not you think it was good value for money.


Modern technology

  1. Why do people often want to be among the first to buy the latest gadgets?
  2. Would a world without mobile phones be a better or worse place?
  3. To what extent have computers become an important part of our lives?
  4. Can computers really improve the education process?
  5. What sorts of technological advances do you think we might see in the next 100 years?
  6. Could we survive without modern technology, the way our great-grandparents, for example, did? How has modern technology improved our lives?
  7. How has it made our lives worse?

Read the passage through quickly to get a general understanding, and decide which of these subheadings is the best one

pic12_IELTS|Upper-Int|L21


How Green is your PlanIT Valley?

The first thing to say about the people running new European company Living PlanIT is that they are ambitious. Not only are they planning to build a smart green city from scratch at a site in northern Portugal, but they also hope to establish their PlanIT Valley development as both a genuine European alternative to the USA’s Silicon Valley, and a working model that will inspire the next generation of low carbon cities. These will combine real environmental sustainability with a quality of IT-enhanced urban living almost unrecognisable from the crowded, polluted and disorganised reality that is city life for most people.

Many are sceptical about the company’s plans for a brand-new smart city packed with cutting-edge green technology which can house 225,000 people while producing ‘negligible’ greenhouse gas emissions. To them, the technical challenges, combined with the $10 billion that the company needs to raise to see the project through from beginning to end, make Living PlanIT’s plans sound more like an admirable experiment rather than a viable construction project. Their scepticism is not helped by the company’s use of marketing language that, in order to understand it, requires a degree in Public Relations. For example, the company’s claim that its ‘design and manufacturing platforms enable the convergence of computing, network and sensing technologies with the fabric of buildings and places, demonstrated at urban scale in the development and operations of PlanIT Valley’ does not really explain what it does.

However, when you listen to chief executive Steve Lewis outline his plans for the company, it becomes possible to believe that they might just deliver on their absurdly ambitious promises. His rationale for the company is admirably simple. He argues that the construction industry remains the last sector of the economy to resist the IT revolution that has enhanced efficiencies across every other industry, from car manufacturing to food production. Their existing techniques are inadequate, he says, for today’s technology-rich and environmentally-aware requirements. Here, therefore, is an opportunity to entirely update the building process. Taking lessons from other manufacturing industries, including aerospace, automotive and shipbuilding, project leaders identified a number of elements that feature in modern manufacturing processes and which could be applied to modern buildings from the very start of the construction process.

Living PlanIT plans to integrate IT into the fabric of the city. It is installing many thousands of sensors that allow an urban operating system to deliver intelligent buildings that are constantly optimised to enhance comfort, productivity and environmental sustainability. Meanwhile, the latest renewable energy technologies and green building techniques will allow the city to operate with a virtually non-existent carbon footprint. Of course, such techniques are not new, but they are rarely put into practice. In fact, the IT industry has been complaining for a long time that the construction sector has failed to make adequate (if any) use of IT in its buildings.

So, what makes PlanIT Valley different? For a start, the company has considerable power and influence, both in terms of the team it has assembled and the financial backing it has already been promised. Lewis and many on the senior management team have served as senior executives with other major IT companies. This means that they not only have the right experience, but also the essential ‘anything is possible’ mentality that is a feature of such companies. In addition, Lewis claims that the company has already invested $300 million in putting together its team of engineers and developing its technology portfolio. As a result, the project is establishing a degree of credibility that far exceeds that of other similar projects.

More importantly, however, almost all of the technology the company is planning to deploy in PlanIT Valley either already exists or is viable from a technical point of view. Intelligent buildings that know to turn the air-conditioning on before you even realise you are hot may sound like something out of a science-fiction novel, but we are increasingly living in a science-fiction age. You do not need to invent anything new to develop a zero-carbon smart city, you just have to put all the right technologies together in the right place.

If Living PlanIT achieve this integration, it will hopefully be able to prove the final part of Lewis’ claim. Namely, that cost concerns surrounding green developments are ill-founded. A more automated approach to construction coupled with long-term efficiency gains delivered by intelligent infrastructure more than cancel out the extra money required to build the development in the first place. And if it can win the economic argument, future opportunities are enormous. As Lewis points out, projected world population growth means that the world has to deliver between 9,500 and 10,000 new cities over the next forty years to house everyone. There is no chance of avoiding dangerous levels of climate change unless this expansion is delivered in an environmentally-sustainable manner. That would provide quite a business opportunity for the company that can deliver the solution.

The PlanIT Valley project presents many problems in terms of project management and coordination, and there is a huge amount of work to be done before the first residents are able to move in. Whatever the outcome, it is hard not to admire a project that will put so many theories about smart cities to the test all in one go. First, it is challenging accepted assumptions on how cities should be designed and constructed. Secondly, it will show what can be done if connectivity and intelligence are built into the design from the beginning. Thirdly, it will be a pilot project for a whole range of new services and, equally important, new types of collaboration.


Read the passage and choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D for questions 1-5

Read the task in the box and complete questions 6-10

pic13_IELTS|Upper-Int|L21

Questions 6-10

Do the following statements agree with the claims of the writer in the reading passage?

Choose:

Yes if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer

No if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer

Not Given if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this


How Green is your PlanIT Valley?

The first thing to say about the people running new European company Living PlanIT is that they are ambitious. Not only are they planning to build a smart green city from scratch at a site in northern Portugal, but they also hope to establish their PlanIT Valley development as both a genuine European alternative to the USA’s Silicon Valley, and a working model that will inspire the next generation of low carbon cities. These will combine real environmental sustainability with a quality of IT-enhanced urban living almost unrecognisable from the crowded, polluted and disorganised reality that is city life for most people.

Many are sceptical about the company’s plans for a brand-new smart city packed with cutting-edge green technology which can house 225,000 people while producing ‘negligible’ greenhouse gas emissions. To them, the technical challenges, combined with the $10 billion that the company needs to raise to see the project through from beginning to end, make Living PlanIT’s plans sound more like an admirable experiment rather than a viable construction project. Their scepticism is not helped by the company’s use of marketing language that, in order to understand it, requires a degree in Public Relations. For example, the company’s claim that its ‘design and manufacturing platforms enable the convergence of computing, network and sensing technologies with the fabric of buildings and places, demonstrated at urban scale in the development and operations of PlanIT Valley’ does not really explain what it does.

However, when you listen to chief executive Steve Lewis outline his plans for the company, it becomes possible to believe that they might just deliver on their absurdly ambitious promises. His rationale for the company is admirably simple. He argues that the construction industry remains the last sector of the economy to resist the IT revolution that has enhanced efficiencies across every other industry, from car manufacturing to food production. Their existing techniques are inadequate, he says, for today’s technology-rich and environmentally-aware requirements. Here, therefore, is an opportunity to entirely update the building process. Taking lessons from other manufacturing industries, including aerospace, automotive and shipbuilding, project leaders identified a number of elements that feature in modern manufacturing processes and which could be applied to modern buildings from the very start of the construction process.

Living PlanIT plans to integrate IT into the fabric of the city. It is installing many thousands of sensors that allow an urban operating system to deliver intelligent buildings that are constantly optimised to enhance comfort, productivity and environmental sustainability. Meanwhile, the latest renewable energy technologies and green building techniques will allow the city to operate with a virtually non-existent carbon footprint. Of course, such techniques are not new, but they are rarely put into practice. In fact, the IT industry has been complaining for a long time that the construction sector has failed to make adequate (if any) use of IT in its buildings.

So, what makes PlanIT Valley different? For a start, the company has considerable power and influence, both in terms of the team it has assembled and the financial backing it has already been promised. Lewis and many on the senior management team have served as senior executives with other major IT companies. This means that they not only have the right experience, but also the essential ‘anything is possible’ mentality that is a feature of such companies. In addition, Lewis claims that the company has already invested $300 million in putting together its team of engineers and developing its technology portfolio. As a result, the project is establishing a degree of credibility that far exceeds that of other similar projects.

More importantly, however, almost all of the technology the company is planning to deploy in PlanIT Valley either already exists or is viable from a technical point of view. Intelligent buildings that know to turn the air-conditioning on before you even realise you are hot may sound like something out of a science-fiction novel, but we are increasingly living in a science-fiction age. You do not need to invent anything new to develop a zero-carbon smart city, you just have to put all the right technologies together in the right place.

If Living PlanIT achieve this integration, it will hopefully be able to prove the final part of Lewis’ claim. Namely, that cost concerns surrounding green developments are ill-founded. A more automated approach to construction coupled with long-term efficiency gains delivered by intelligent infrastructure more than cancel out the extra money required to build the development in the first place. And if it can win the economic argument, future opportunities are enormous. As Lewis points out, projected world population growth means that the world has to deliver between 9,500 and 10,000 new cities over the next forty years to house everyone. There is no chance of avoiding dangerous levels of climate change unless this expansion is delivered in an environmentally-sustainable manner. That would provide quite a business opportunity for the company that can deliver the solution.

The PlanIT Valley project presents many problems in terms of project management and coordination, and there is a huge amount of work to be done before the first residents are able to move in. Whatever the outcome, it is hard not to admire a project that will put so many theories about smart cities to the test all in one go. First, it is challenging accepted assumptions on how cities should be designed and constructed. Secondly, it will show what can be done if connectivity and intelligence are built into the design from the beginning. Thirdly, it will be a pilot project for a whole range of new services and, equally important, new types of collaboration.


Read the options in the green box and choose appropriate option A-G

Complete each sentence 11-14 with the correct ending A-G

A technically possible

B underused

C difficult to avoid

D not valid

E inefficient

F too ambitious

G extremely challenging

pic14_IELTS|Upper-Int|L21

Read the task in the green box and complete questions 1–6 after listening to the recording

Questions 1-6

Complete the notes below.

Write no more than two words for each answer.

Advisor Student

Advisor: Come in and take a seat.
Student: Thank you.
Advisor: Now, you’ve made an appointment to see me with regard to one of the papers you want to enrol in next semester.
Student: Yes, that’s right. It’s the «Globalisation and Educational Change» paper, GEC 692.
Advisor: Ah, well, I know the one you mean but all the code numbers are going to change next semester so, although the course name will stay the same, the code will be ED 995. Now you have to worry about that.
Student: But the content will be the same, right?
Advisor: Oh, yes, to a large extent. The objectives are still to provide you with the skills and knowledge for analysing the challenges that globalisation poses for education.
Student: Yes, that’s what I’m really interested in — the future of education — not where we are now, but where we’re heading.
Advisor: Well, you’ll most likely enjoy the course because it’ll give you the opportunity not just to explore… but also to document… the advancement of new educational developments.
Student: And, there’ll be quite a lot of analysis involved?
Advisor: Yes, obviously, but once you’ve examined how education has been affected by cultural values and socio-economic structures, you’ll go on to debate the pros and cons of the restructuring of public education in view of rapid globalisation.
Student: I see but, when you say ‘public education’, do you mean worldwide?
Advisor: No, no. That would be far too large an undertaking for just one paper. You’d probably choose to work with the education system within your own state or country.
Student: Sounds interesting. But isn’t it a bit restrictive?
Advisor: Not at all. From there you’d move on to explore the impact of internationalisation on curriculum diversity in both developing and developed countries. Have you had a chance to look at the assessment criteria yet?
Student: Actually, I have, and it makes me a bit nervous just thinking about it.
Advisor: Why’s that?
Student: Well, I see that the first assignment starts with an illustrated power point presentation to the rest of the class. I’ve never done one before.
Advisor: No need to worry. You can get help with that. Anyway, this presentation isn’t graded — it’s what we call a formative assessment — the feedback you get will help you to finalise the written review.
Student: That’s a review of those academic articles in the first part of the reading list, right?
Advisor: Yes. But you only have to choose five of them. That first assignment is worth 30%.
Student: And the second assignment?
Advisor: There are two parts to that also and both are graded. Twenty marks will go towards your participation in a seminar and then there’s a 5,000-word essay which will be graded out of 50.
Student: Thanks.


pic15_IELTS|Upper-Int|L21

Read the task in the green box and complete questions 7-10

Questions 7-10

Listen to the audio and complete the table below.

Write no more than two words and/or a number for each answer.

Advisor Student

Advisor: Is there anything else I can help you with?
Student: Yes, the reading list is quite long. Where do you think I should start?
Advisor: Well, I’d suggest you leave the articles until the semester is under way, but a good preparation would be to look at some of the major texts: these ones here.
Student: In any particular order?
Advisor: You could start with this one by Tower here at the bottom of the page.
Student: Sorry? Who?
Advisor: Tower T-O-W-E-R, 2007: Comparative Education. That should give you a good basis. Then move on to Elliot: Educational Issues of the New Millennium — but be sure to get the 2008 edition not the original 1998 edition because so much has changed since 1998. The new edition has extensive revisions and a lot of new material.
Student: Okay, so that’s Tower first, then Elliot. I think I could handle a couple more over the summer break.
Advisor: Well, in that case, look for Brown’s Education and Globalisation published in 2009 — actually there are quite a few books by Brown but I’d start with that one and leave his others till much later… and I’d also really recommend this one here: Globalisation and Knowledge Policy by York published quite recently in fact — 2010.

УрокУрок HomeworkHomework КурсКурс
  • Warm-up
  • To love or not to love
  • eLearning
  • The focus of study
  • Reading 1
  • Reading 2
  • Collaborative learning
  • What's the public opinion?
  • How Green is your PlanIT Valley? - 1
  • How Green is your PlanIT Valley? - 2
  • Future of Education
  • Education in globalised world