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Education Technology – More than just hardware

Education technology deployments require more than just new tech

The deployment of education technology is well underway. Since the implementation of laptops, netbooks and Chromebooks we’ve seen a huge push towards a more mobile-centric classroom. Teachers are reporting improved engagement with mobile devices and have seen momentous success in BYOD initiatives. The BBC report that 70% of primary and secondary schools across the UK now use tablets in the classroom.

Despite Teachers reporting a positive impact from introducing technology to their classroom, academic research continues to fall short of providing unmistakable evidence that technology is a primary contributor to academic improvement.

A holistic approach

When we think about classroom technology we think about tablets, laptops, mobiles and other hardware. We don’t think about teachers. Teachers need to be a core part of the implementation from the beginning. Better training programmes empowering them to make full use the technology.

Not only that, but the data gathered from technology used in the classroom can be incredibly valuable to academic progression and proving tailored student support, however, it isn’t. Why? Because teachers can only view historic reports, from past assessments and not the here and now.

Let teachers have access to insights and valuable academic assessment data in the moment, during the current class and they can provide valuable 1:1 support. When this happens, and data becomes more dynamic, we expect technology will have a much more significant (and quantifiable) impact in the classroom.

70% of five to fifteen-year-olds have access to a tablet computer at home. Homework, Lesson notes and extracurricular activity are monitored, assessed and collated easily. Students feel empowered as they are using mediums they are familiar with and have constant access to their work.

Adaptive learning

One key benefit to classroom technology is personalised learning and support. A mechanics course at the University of New South Wales found that adaptive learning technology reduced failure rates from 31% to just 7%.

Data gained from classroom activity provides insight into individual student needs and helps to form a framework that will offer support designed to have the best possible outcome for that student.

Through data gained from classroom activity a tailored framework is developed to meet the individual requirements of each student. What we are perhaps missing is technology that can adapt to individual learning, becoming more challenging as the student progresses, or providing meaningful insight as to why a student is stuck in a particular area.

Therefore it is crucial teachers are a fundamental part of the initial deployment. Teachers need to be the masters of the academic data gained from classroom tech, as we still wholeheartedly rely on them to provide the support that leads to the academic progression of our students.

What next?

If you listen to what teachers are saying today, it’s easy to draw a conclusion. When we focus on increasing the amount of technology (Hardware) in the classroom alone, the benefits are difficult to realise. However, with training, planning and appropriate data, the benefits are impossible to ignore. We need to focus on practice, policy, research and professional development of our teachers.

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