A version of this post was originally published on April 4th, 2019 on Education Technology.
Technology has the power to harness real change and bring education to life. Even though many schools are already embracing the benefits that edtech provides, many others still aren’t taking advantage of these opportunities.
Schools need to understand the importance of investing in the right edtech resources and platforms, not just to elevate teaching and learning, but to ensure that these address schools’ overall aims and support staff when it comes to reducing workloads and streamlining processes. Edtech needs to be cost-effective and help reduce overall costs to schools.
But with so many apps, platforms and resources available on the market, where do schools start in terms of identifying the most appropriate and effective edtech tools for them?
Running a school has never been easy. There are just so many things to consider, people to talk to, decisions to be made. Adding edtech to the mix may mean extra work, but it’s all worth it. School managers need to be confident that they and their teams will be able to address various edtech challenges which include:
- Finding the right technological solutions that cater to the specific needs of students, classrooms, teachers and schools,
- Making sure everyone involved knows how to use them,
- Harnessing technology to leverage training opportunities and ensuring teachers have access to the latest and best professional development opportunities,
- Automatically tailoring and personalizing learning for all children to level the playing field for those children with special educational needs,
- Using edtech to reduce the time spent on lesson preparation and marking homework.
Technology sometimes gives the impression of adding to a workload, rather than easing it. More often than not, investments are made by schools simply when things go wrong, or existing systems become outdated. Yet this is an ineffective use of edtech, and instead, schools need to assess their infrastructures and recognize the full potential of technology. With the right tools and training, adopting edtech in the classroom can have far-reaching benefits.
5 Tips for schools to harness the power of edtech in the classroom
In order to truly meet the needs of students, school decision makers should consider the following factors when investing in edtech:
Weigh all options
Don’t simply buy technology for technology’s sake; it might not be right for your school so make sure you look at our existing resources and infrastructure. For example, there is no point spending thousands of dollars on new equipment if you don’t have the required WiFi connectivity, infrastructure or broadband speed for it.
Read more: Don’t forget about pedagogy when chasing technology!
Train the teachers
When software or hardware is installed, take the time to train your staff on it. It might seem like an arduous task, but trust me, it’ll be short-term pain for a long-term gain. It is a waste of money if a school is only using 10 percent of a resource, or even using two or three different products when there might be one that caters for all three needs. Whether it’s an interactive board, robotics resource, parent communications app or a school LMS, ensure that all staff are clued up and understand the benefits to ensure that processes – both in the class and behind the scenes – run as efficiently as possible.
Train them further
Continuing on the theme of training, also look at the ways that technology can be used to further professional development for staff. Find a system which hosts and/or recommends courses for staff CPD and logs appraisals and performance. Again, being able to streamline all of this information and keep track of progress throughout the year will be extremely helpful when it comes to mid-year and end of year reviews and evidencing achievements.
Read more: 3 reasons why you should use a school LMS to deliver PD for teachers
Don’t forget about your students
More and more tools are enabling teachers to automatically personalize and tailor learning. This is a really effective way of ensuring that all students in the class are both engaged and active in their learning. This is especially useful when it comes to leveling the playing field for those students with special educational needs. Being able to tailor learning content to various levels and abilities without adding to a teachers’ workload is essential. Consider technology which automatically identifies a student’s ability and recommends activities based on their level. In addition to this, resources that can be adapted in different ways – for example, gamified content for those who work best getting hands-on, or audio and visual adaptations for those who learn best through listening and viewing.
Read more: What every adaptive learning system should have
Keep an eye on the horizon
Following on from this point, look for those resources which provide an automated way of marking homework and keep an eye on their promises for the future. This is key in addressing the challenge of reducing workloads – with so much time spent on marking and planning, if teachers can source a tool which not only sets homework but automatically marks and assesses students’ progress, then they can focus on what truly matters: teaching children.
Read more: 4 Ways AI will be a great teaching assistant
Adopting edtech in the classroom can improve the school day for both students and teachers. It is now up to all edtech professionals to listen to schools, work with schools and develop products for schools which address the key challenges and truly take teaching and learning to the next level.