Is there still a reluctance to embrace technology in schools from a teaching point of view, and what can we do to help promote the use of edtech in all schools?
We have seen schools wanting to embrace new technology to align with curriculum changes, however there are numerous factors prohibiting schools from adopting new technology. These include budget constraints and a lack of understanding of which tech to adopt, and how to move towards bringing it into the classroom.
At PC World Business we try to educate schools on how different technology can transform the classroom in terms of hardware, (i.e. tablets, Smartboards), and how it can be integrated into the existing infrastructure and curriculum. Schools are desperate to use the latest innovations, however they are unsure of what to go for and how to use it – sadly, in some instances they’re sold a solution which isn’t necessarily fit for purpose based on their individual requirement. Plus, schools often tend to take a piece meal approach, buying technology on a project by project basis, rather than looking at how to adapt to changing curriculum demands with an overall ICT strategic plan.
Are budget restrictions a major factor as to why we are seeing a digital divide between teachers and their students? What can we do to improve this?
There is often a divide between technology in schools compared to what students have at home. Students may have worse computers, different operating systems, or they may not have the specific software available to do their studies at home, for example Photoshop or InDesign for art students. To minimise this divide and help parents, we are currently looking to offer leasing options to alleviate some of the pressure on budgets.
Additionally, with schools’ ever shrinking budgets – which show little sign of growing anytime soon – we look to ensure technology investments are future-proofed so that even with the fast pace of innovation, we’ll look to a solution that won’t quickly become out of date.
How often should schools look at training teaching staff to use the latest edtech, or is it more important that educators show initiative and take responsibility in keeping up with new developments?
Teachers don’t always have time to spare for training – lesson planning, reporting, homework checking; they have enough on their plate as it is without technology training adding to it. However, given its importance, any new classroom deployment should have time allocated to train teachers on it. It is essential that teachers are fully trained and understand how to use the technology that their students are using. Often, pupils are more familiar with technology than their teachers are, another reason why teachers need to be properly trained. Plus, understanding of technology doesn’t stop at hardware; teachers also need support to learn how to use operating systems, software and apps. This training does not have to be a costly exercise, it can simply be a few training classes or even YouTube videos. In the long run, this will help to counter any issues that may arise during lessons, whilst also helping to cut costs by continuously having to rely on external IT support.
Do you think tech suppliers should as standard supply teacher training on their technology products?
Particularly with new tech, training can be supplied to schools. We work with many suppliers such as Microsoft and Acer who can offer specific education related training, to enable schools to maximise their investment. Training videos and content are available online after the initial teacher training to help support teachers in case any ongoing training and development is required. Investment in training support from the technology providers will not only allow teachers to adopt it better and faster, but it will also make schools more loyal in the long run if they’re seen as more than just a customer. There’s a big opportunity for suppliers to drive long relationships with the teaching community by being a supportive operation – and such good news will naturally spread through word of mouth among the teaching community.
How important is it that teachers embrace social media rather than shy away from it? Do the benefits of using Twitter and Facebook to engage with students outweigh the potential risks?
Social media opens the door to potential risks and dangers to young children. However there are more secure platforms via suppliers such as Google that schools can use to have greater controls allowing a more secure communication between teachers to teachers, or teachers to children which is not accessible to the general public.
Children are spending more of their time on social media nowadays so it’s essential that the controls are set up in the most secure way possible. Here at PC World Business, we recognise the growing popularity of social media and the risks it presents, and we work with suppliers to facilitate and suggest appropriate options for schools.
Simon Moyle is Head of Business Solutions at PC World Business