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Is tech making teaching less personal?

Julia McCann from Victoria Junior School in Feltham, discusses whether technology is a more of a help or a hindrance to educators today

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | August 08, 2014 | Primary

There is no denying it: the modern classroom is in the grip of a technological takeover. Sci-fi novels have warned of a digital takeover for years, and whilst we have yet to see robots rampaging through the streets, when you take a closer look at the classroom it is clear just how much things have changed over recent decades. 

We know that technology can save us time and make our lives easier, both inside and outside the classroom. Today technology is playing an ever-greater role in the lives of children, with recent changes to the curriculum recognising this. For some, there is an argument that with so much software on offer for teachers to assist them with their work, the role of the teacher is changing and teachers apprehensive to embrace technology risk being left behind.

From September, teachers will be expected to educate children about complex subjects in ICT such as coding, programming and basic HTML. However there may be some teachers for whom these more complicated aspects of the ICT curriculum are of concern.

Teachers are constantly hearing about software which is designed to help improve their busy working lives, but there is always a question over whether these products really can live up to expectations. So when my headteacher asked our school to try Reportbox, a tool designed to make report writing significantly faster and hassle free, I was intrigued to find out just how much of a difference it would make. 

Report writing is one aspect of teaching which has always been laborious for teachers. This is why the concept of report writing software has always appealed. However the staff at our school are of the opinion that, when it comes to reports, taking a personal approach is crucial. Report writing has always traditionally been done without much assistance from technology, as parents always want to hear from the teachers directly. Yet having tried Reportbox for the first time this year, we have been encouraged by how well the software works in partnership with this personal approach to report writing, whilst dramatically reducing the time spent on admin.

What we found with this report writing software, was that instead of the reports being less personal, teachers were willing to spend extra time adding better and more unique comments to individual reports. This was because they didn’t have to waste time on things like inserting correctly gendered pronouns, as the highly sensitive software had done so automatically.

Since using this software, what used to be a six- to seven-day job has become something I can manage comfortably in a couple of days, more than halving the time it used to take! I never would have believed that to be possible. When you consider the capacity technology has for improving the lives of teachers and students alike, it is hard to ignore the benefits. 

Not all software is equal in its value to teachers, and many schools have felt the effects of wasting money on inefficient technology. But when technology works for the teacher, and not vice versa, the time and effort which can be saved reminds us all why technology has taken the world, and the classroom, by storm.

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