What are you speaking about at Bett and why?
I will be speaking about creating an effective workflow, because while it is convenient to use a single-subject specialist app in the class to enhance a lesson, we are now at a stage where technology has moved on rapidly to offer a more fluid workflow of lesson planning, delivery and feedback.
In the last year, technology has developed to such an extent that it can embrace and collate all the information that both a teacher and student requires, within a single point of workflow, whether it is through Google Apps, the Office 365 Suite or the Apple platform.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
Usually twice a week, I squeeze in CPD training with staff, either during lunch or after school, at both the senior and prep base. On a fortnightly basis, I hold a Digital Steering Committee session for the Digital Champion teachers, who are the leading experts for filtering information back into their department.
In order to have a bit of humor during the day, I try to catch up with a few teachers to find out how they have managed to use technology in their classrooms. More often than not, we laugh at the unpredictable nature of tech! I have an open door policy so there is always an influx of teachers and students walking through the door, asking questions or suggesting new ideas.
‘We are now at a stage where technology has moved on rapidly to offer a more fluid workflow of lesson planning, delivery and feedback’
At Ashford, we work very closely with parents and offer regular digital parent sessions. On a rotational basis, we offer parent CPD sessions ranging from the very basics of operating the technology to more advanced lessons on how their children are using the technology in the classrooms.
What is your favourite part of your job?
My favourite part of the day is when I am able to show or teach something new to a teacher or student. Whenever I hear “Wow, which is really amazing” and “Is it really that easy?” It makes my day, because I know they are going to go away and try to use what I have just demonstrated, or share the new knowledge with other teachers and students.
What is your favourite bit of classroom technology?
My favourite piece of classroom technology is currently the Google Interface. It is just so simple and it really works. The design is simple, intuitive and free of unnecessary distractions. It also provides both the teacher and students a safe environment to communicate with each other and exchange ideas, discussions and homework. The new Google Classroom tool is also very effective in creating a paperless environment. It integrates Google Docs, Sheets, E-mail, Chat and Drive to eliminate the need for hard copies. I am a big Google user and so find the whole Google eco-system very useable.
What is the best excuse you’ve ever heard from a student for not doing their homework?
“I burned it”
(The back story to this is that the student tried to produce a piece of work that had an old and distressed feel for their project work…he left it in the oven for too long!)
What started your interest in education technology?
My interest in education technology began when I undertook my PhD with Stephen Heppell at Bournemouth University in 2009. It was during this time that the introduction of iPads in education became popular. I have children of my own and I wanted to ensure that they were introduced to technology both appropriately and safely. As I got more involved in this research, I fell into the role of providing advice to schools on how best to implement the technology into their infrastructure. In 2014, I completed my PhD and have since worked as Head of ICT at Kew Green Preparatory School and Director of Digital Innovation at London Preparatory Schools.
Who was your favourite teacher and why?
The first teacher was Ms. Charlotte who was my ‘homeroom’ teacher or what is generally known as ‘form’ teacher in England. She made it OK to be different and if anything, encouraged the class to be themselves – regardless of who you were or where you came from. The other teacher I remember dearly was Mr. Shore. He was an amazing English teacher. He would ask us to pick random topics from a black hat and inform us that we had one minute to speak on it.
Are you using any particular technology at the moment?
At Ashford School, we have a hybrid mix of technology. The school’s email system is supported by the new Office 365 suite, which includes all the Microsoft products of Word, Power Point, Excel etc. The staff are currently working with One Drive to upload documents and SharePoint to share the documents with one another. Ashford School has recently invested in the new iSams School Management System. We also have a 1:1 iPad strategy where all students from years 3 to 10 have their own individual iPad. Both teachers and students are now using the iPads to create an effective workflow in their lessons.
Where do you think education should be in ten years’ time?
I hope good quality education will be supported by technology to reach the furthest points of the world; in order to educate the less privileged children. The new sustainable development goals (SDG’s) are looking to address the issue of standards, and are calling for “inclusive and quality education for all” by 2030 but I believe that unless we implement technology to deliver this goal it is not an achievable goal or financially feasible.
Neelam Parmar will be presenting a session titled ‘Integrating technology within lesson delivery: focusing on pedagogy and educational outcomes for learning’ at Bett 2016. Join her in the Learn Live: Primary theatre at 15.00 on Wednesday 20 January to hear more.