The chaotic, exciting picture of technology in our schools
The capacity to use technology to improve teaching and learning has never been higher, with interactive touchscreens and associated software transforming how lessons are being delivered in the 750,000 classrooms throughout the UK. From the 57% of pupils reportedly using mobile devices such as iPads to collaborate in class, to exciting cloud-based and game-based learning tools, there has never been a more exciting time to learn.
Consider how using pinching and zooming around Google Earth on a 75” interactive touchscreen can support geography, history, science, and politics to name a few curriculum areas.
Regrettably this latest interactive technology is only available to some of today’s teachers and pupils, and even when it is at front-of-class, our research highlights there is often a worrying lack of emphasis on teacher training.
In fact, 1 in 5 teachers have never received training on how to use their most vital teaching tool.
Furthermore, 46% of schools have either not upgraded their classroom display technology in the last 5 years, or do so ad-hoc as and when required. The result is an alarming lack of access to outstanding teaching, with dim, ageing projectors displaying onto faulty interactive whiteboards. 34% of respondents claimed their pupils cannot see their lessons clearly without darkening the classroom, and 39% thought their display could do with an upgrade. That’s the equivalent of nearly 300,000 classrooms supporting several million future professionals.
Even the best teacher will struggle to retain engagement when pupils simply cannot see what is being shown to them.
Other figures reflect this trend, such as the two-thirds of respondents who said their school has different makes and models of display equipment in different classrooms. The result is their teachers and learners have access to different standards of teaching and learning.
Big technology brands such as Smart, Promethean and Clevertouch spend vast sums of money on software development, and the result is an astounding level of opportunity in the classroom; from instantaneous marking via pupils’ mobile devices to creative game-based learning apps to teach coding, grammar, Pythagoras and lots more.
It’s therefore a missed opportunity that our research shows the two most widely used software packages used by teachers to present lessons are designed for the office – Microsoft Word and Microsoft Powerpoint. What a waste.
In partnership with these big brands, Elementary Technology provide inclusive training as part of our service when installing this technology, and are developing a knowledge base of teaching and learning tools for schools. We have also employed Helene Podmore, our Head of Education , who with her background as a senior leader in a school, has the sole responsibility to help the company and its customers deliver better education.
A particularly powerful tool is our Classroom Healthcheck , developed with schools to provide them with a detailed report on how the performance of their technology is affecting teaching and learning. It helps identify classrooms such as that pictured here, which shows a projector which is actually switched on!
The set of traffic light ratings for each classroom can often be startling to senior leaders and governors who are not always at the sharp end of teaching and learning. The report can help overcome budget restraints which often lead to a school upgrading some of their classrooms and not others; the result is unfair access for different members of the school community. Also, schools often use the report to form part of their School Improvement Plan – a requirement for OFSTED.
Ed Fairfield at Elementary Technology who supported the University with their research, comments;
‘We were delighted to work with the University who have provided a superb insight into use of technology in today’s classrooms. The results have in fact confirmed much of what we see in schools each day. We now need to ensure all teachers and learners have the access, the knowledge and the opportunity to use the latest education technology to deliver outstanding teaching and learning’.
For the full results of this detailed research, please contact Ed Fairfield at Elementary Technology on firstname.lastname@example.org.