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Cohesive digital strategy needed in schools, says report

Issues around technology procurement, measurement and adoption prompt industry heavyweights to call on Government for a new framework

Posted by Julian Owen | October 01, 2017 | Primary

A raft of recommendations on how to best utilise the digital future follow a country-wide consultation led by education technology company Instructure. Those consulted include primary and secondary schools, the Department for Education and industry thought-leaders such as ReformFutureGov and Besa. Instructure's advisory report, Driving Digital Strategy in Schools, considers the future of digital education strategy in the UK and provides guidance on key components for a comprehensive approach. 

The report reveals that there is a clear need for a more coherent digital strategy, with the current lack of guidance and prioritising of narrow performance targets creating a climate of inertia in schools when it comes to tech. More than one-third (36 per cent) of teachers say they know that technology can fundamentally improve results in schools, but nearly half (46 per cent) rarely use the technology in their classrooms, primarily because they don’t know how to effectively integrate it into teaching and learning. 

The advisory paper warns that grassroots, teacher-led change must be a catalyst for improving the way tech is used in the classroom, and that government should offer support and a framework rather than dictate how schools should use technology. By supplementing the enthusiasm of teachers with concrete guidance, Government can help educators make informed decisions in technology purchasing, and post-implementation can help them ensure a return on their investment. 

The report highlights five key areas where Government guidance is required for a successful digital strategy in schools: 

1. Simplifying a currently prohibitive procurement process 

2. Improving access to training on technology use 

3. Support for dealing with legacy equipment and services 

4. A requirement for technology provision in the Ofsted framework 

5. Reevaluate the way that progress in education is measured 

Louis Coiffait, Head of Education at Reform said: “This report clearly demonstrates that the education sector needs a comprehensive digital strategy, in order to unlock opportunities for K12 institutes to access education technology with fewer obstacles, and guide the market towards better use of technology in education. 

“The project chimes with our own work, which examines how education policy can help realise everyone’s potential, particularly the most disadvantaged, in a cost-effective and sustainable way. Technology has to be a part of that. Additional perspectives on the challenges of implementing the right digital learning tools in classrooms are useful for everyone.” 

Rachel Matthews, communications director for Instructure, said: “There’s no doubt that technology has the potential to revolutionise the education industry. However, it’s crucial that there is information and guidance available to help institutions choose, procure and implement the right technology to improve learning. This project is about working together to achieve our goals — talking openly to schools, industry authorities and Government about issues and challenges, and how we can all come together to solve them.” 

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