Step inside a classroom today and you will find learning environments designed to encourage pupils to talk to each other in the spirit of collaborative learning, all powered by state-of-the art technology that we could only have dreamt of in the days of chalk and talk.
Schools are increasingly keen to take learning out of the classroom and some of the most inspirational lessons happen in the playing fields and away on school trips, with all pupils working on tablets and other mobile devices.
But while learning has extended beyond the four walls of the classroom, are teachers benefitting fully from the growing trend to go mobile?
The age of the mobile teacher
A recent survey of school staff was conducted to find out whether teachers are taking advantage of technology to complete tasks from home that they would previously have only been able to undertake in school.
When questioned about the use of technology in their schools, 80% of respondents said pupil report writing, 68% said planning and 60% said homework and test marking was now carried out by teachers using technology from home.
Advances in apps for education mean that a range of classroom management tasks can be completed anytime, anywhere too, such as completing the register, recording behaviour incidents and awarding pupil achievement points.
You will often find that teachers take attendance using a tablet on school trips, for example. This means that if a pupil falls ill, the teacher can look up parents’ contact details in a few swipes, rather than leafing through a paper file or getting the information by phoning the school office. Those vital pieces of information about each child can also be pulled out quickly from the device, such as notes on food allergies, who needs medication and which children would benefit from a closer eye being kept on them that day.
But as the survey revealed, it is not just teachers who are benefitting from being able to work more flexibly and remotely.
Flexible working for school leaders
Of the school staff who responded, 42% said that senior leaders in their schools used mobile devices to do their reporting. These figures suggest that mobile working is extending its reach beyond day-to-day tasks carried out by teachers and school leaders are starting to embrace tools that help them to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.
So, when a busy deputy head has one of those ‘let me just check…’ moments while travelling to a school leadership event or preparing for a governors meeting from home, they can simply pull out their tablet if they want to and see what progress children doing lunchtime maths are making, or check how many pupils have signed up to attend the new after school drama workshop. Some of our best ideas come to us when we are away from our desks, so why be tied to the office when thinking about how to best meet the needs of your pupils or making important decisions for your school?
Pupils consider the world to be their digital playground and would not bat an eyelid about using technology to do something more quickly or efficiently, wherever they are.
Doing things on the move is something that just comes naturally to children – and they will take this with them in to the workplace. So, perhaps this is a philosophy schools should continue to embrace.
Julie Booth is director of SIMS services www.capita-independent.co.uk