In many lessons teachers dominate the teaching space. They stand at the front of the classroom and share their knowledge with the students they teach. A few blackboards may be lingering in cupboards and storerooms but most teachers have whiteboards and projectors to direct students on their learning pathway. Is the next move away from the whiteboard at the front of the classroom to computer screens dispersed across the room? What does the current use of technology in the classroom look like?
EdTech may seem just another buzzword to some. The thought of using apps and games in lessons may be considered a fun but not particularly productive use of time. However, technology is entering our classrooms and homes and is changing the culture of learning without us really thinking about it.
The majority of teachers reading this will be familiar with projectors, PowerPoints and the occasional video to provide content. I would consider all of this as current technology in the classroom. Students then digest knowledge by answering questions from textbooks, completing worksheets, in some lessons ‘hands on’ learning with practical activities help to make progress. In my experience these activities rarely used technology and are pretty typical in most classrooms. Students are assessed throughout a topic and at the end of a topic to check understanding and the process repeats with the next set of learning objectives. What would it look like if this process was handed over to technology? Most would argue that teachers would do it better. Currently they do, but could technology help make them more effective?
Most lessons have been taught thousands of times before by other teachers so why waste more time finding another PowerPoint or designing and printing a whole new set of worksheets? The problem that faces teachers now are the demands of marking and assessment. Wouldn’t it be great if piles of tests and books were marked by a digital teacher? Things are changing, evenings marking will be a thing of the past, one day, teachers will once again have a life outside of their jobs.
Computers have been available in most schools in the UK, and other wealthy nations for many years, although usually confined to the school computer lab. Students are only able to visit during on rare occasions, usually to conduct research but sometimes as a reward for good work or good behaviour. Purely for educational games I assure you!? As access to the internet has become more widespread and devices have become more portable a whole new set of resources are becoming available in some classrooms.
Some adventurous schools have adopted technology in the classroom with a 1-to-1 laptop policy and other schools are happy to accept devices in lessons, even mobile phones to support learning. Other schools have a strict policy banning mobile phones in lessons and some research suggests that the use of computers has a negative impact on learning. There are a lot of opposing views but educational technology does have the potential to change education for the better. More of this in future blog posts.
What we need to consider is if, what is available will actually improve learning, because at the end of the day, the week or year, this is what education is about. Do we stay with the current methods of education or embrace technology and absorb everything it has to offer? Websites like YouTube and BBC bitesize are very popular with students in the UK but what is it that they like about these sites and not others?
If educational technology is going to be adopted on a large scale we need to look at what good educational technology looks like. There are a huge variety of resources available for students learning; some offering free learning any-time, anywhere, a promise to get you through your exams or maybe they are just companies trying to cash in on an emerging market? With a shortage of funds within many UK schools last thing needed is for senior leaders to spend money on educational technology which isn’t any better than current methods of learning.
What does Technology in the Classroom looks like
You’ve made a lot of really good points about the pros and cons of technology in the classroom! In my experience teachers would like to use technology more in the classroom, but don’t feel comfortable enough with the technology and end up finding it a hindrance rather than a help. However, technology when used well in the classrooms has such a positive impact on learning. It seems like to improve you must find a mix of educating teachers and making sure that the technology is simple and easy to use.
Hi Madison, thanks for you comment. Training is needed, not just on what to use but how to use it most effectively. Funding and support from senior leaders in the school is also important. Those schools and teachers that like using technology are more likely to make it work for them.
This is a considered approach to technology in the classroom. I definitely agree with Madison that training is needed. Many of the resources used in schools do save time by marking and have the resources available for use in lessons but are not utilised because of a lack of training. Training is available but there is too much of a demand on teachers time which means that they cannot take the time to implement technology in a structured way so the impact is varied. I have also noticed that some of the regulations do not support the use of technology, such as paper based, written evidence. Hopefully this will change because it serves little purpose.