Five ways classroom tech is changing the way children learn

By Ian Kay, Head of Technology at Edge Grove School

In the last five years alone, schools have had to adjust to a rapidly changing base of technology. Some schools have been waiting on the sidelines to see which technologies are proven before dipping their toes into the water, whilst others have simply jumped right in with new technologies for better or for worse. The use of technology in the classroom is, of course, all about improving the teaching and learning experience as a whole; it’s not about technology for its own sake, but the results we can get and how we can further enrich a child’s educational journey and future development.

Classroom teaching has evolved hugely over the years, from mainly teacher-led to pupil-led learning. Mobile one-to-one devices allow pupils to collaborate, peer mark and peer teach under the guidance of the class teacher. Online cloud platforms are widely used as a way of making work non-platform specific, i.e. you no longer need devices from a single manufacturer running a particular operating system to work.

The way we teach in classrooms today is constantly evolving, and the technology used in the classroom must be flexible enough to adapt to these constant changes. Some schools are finding that the devices they bought – and bought into as a concept – are becoming obsolete or no longer fit for purpose, despite what may have been a large financial outlay.

There are five key areas where technology really is changing the way children learn in school today, and they cover all manner of areas:

1. The traditional means of demonstrating knowledge and understanding have been replaced by a multimedia experience

The norm is for information to be presented on a whiteboard or interactive board, then copied into workbooks. The introduction of digital technology in the classroom means that work can now be presented as an attachment via a cloud-based teaching tool; pupils can present work as written word, diagrams, photos or video clips. This allows pupils more comfortable with non-verbal communication to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the work

2. Feedback from teachers can now be instantaneous

Online documents can be shared with the class teacher, who can then comment on the work as it is being completed in real time. Other pupils in the same class can also comment, share opinions and thoughts, which in turn provides greater opportunities for peer review

3. Pupils can work anywhere

The great benefit of working on cloud-based one-to-one devices is that pupils can work anywhere they choose with a wifi connection, or can work offline and sync their work later on. This provides much greater flexibility for the pupils, encouraging them to take responsibility for their own learning

4. Pupils develop their own learning styles

Traditional forms of differentiation have been replaced with a multitude of routes to learning and outcomes. Digital learning means that pupils can design their own learning for a task, using proscribed online resources. The learners can explore a variety of media to show their work and demonstrate their understanding

5. Pupils now have a wealth of information at their fingertips

The internet offers access to a huge range of information sources, some reputable and reliable, others not. As such, learners are able to research topics from global sites with differential perspectives and bias. They will, however, need to learn discernment when researching, in order to provide a balanced presentation of the facts they discover

Ian Kay

Technology will play a pivotal role in the future

The rate of technological advancement is ever-increasing; at times it can be difficult for educators to keep up. The future promises ever-smarter devices, such as personal assistants, which will be able to learn the behaviour of users and tune the information provided. Learners will need to adapt their skill set to deal with fast-evolving information, rather than needing to remember lots of different facts.

As with any new system implemented within school, it must undergo rigorous feasibility and suitability testing before going live; staff and pupils alike must have access to adequate training so that the system is used in a consistent manner.

The results we get from using technology in the classroom are quite clear when the teacher works in partnership with the pupils. We can individualise learning, allowing students to work in the ways that best suit them and at their own pace; provide support to the learners with good quality feedback; provide targeted intervention where needed; monitor progress more closely; and, above all, raise the attainment of pupils through a combination of all of these. In this regard, technology plays a vital role in raising attainment.

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