What do you think have been the key technological developments in the education sector this year?
I think it’s definitely getting kids doing more in terms of coding. It’s been very much a neglected area in education which needs attention. Thankfully, the new Key Stage 3 curriculum has addressed this. We’ve already started this at All Saints and I was surprised at how much some students already knew. Kids ARE interested in this, it’s up to us as teachers to harness this enthusiasm and take it further. From a professional development point of view, it’s also a good development for teachers too and has definitely put something refreshing into the IT curriculum.
Will security issues threaten the development of BYOD in schools?
It depends on how far schools want to go in locking down their network. There comes a point when there is so much security it makes it very difficult for you to do anything on computers apart from Office documents. What’s on personal mobile devices is a concern but I doubt these could be significantly dangerous in a wifi environment. There’s always risk, and properly supervised, it shouldn’t be allowed to be an issue. I’ve long been an advocate of reducing the level of security so that sites such as Pinterest and Facebook can be used in schools as they carry a wealth of safe information which can be used to great effect in the classroom.
MOOC adoption has grown massively during 2014, do you think this type of learning is now more widely accepted as an educational tool?
We use MOOC at All Saints for the teaching of certain parts of the ICT syllabus. Its proven great for differentiation and some students use it on their own initiative at home. It is more widely accepted as an educational tool. Just look at the exam boards which are using this technology now as a resource for course delivery. It’s an alternative, an extra resource. You’d be mad not to use it, but it cannot replace the standard classroom teaching.
Has the UK kept up with the rest of the world on 2014’s developments? Are there any key nations out in front?
These days it’s hard to separate the world into countries in terms of IT developments. Companies such as Apple and Microsoft have research offices all over the world. I’ve never visited other countries to see how they provide IT education. From what I’ve read about, I think we are up there with other countries in the teaching of IT and computing.
What have we learned about edtech in 2014 that will help us develop next year and beyond?
When you go to educational shows such as BETT you get an idea about what the next big thing might be in edtech. I thought it was computing and the use of devices such as Raspberry Pis to develop the learning of programming languages. I wonder whether we may move away from the Microsoft environment when teaching computing in years to come. The market for educational information resources is massive and growing. We have lots of choice and can shop around. In terms of development, programming will have a significant impact next year and beyond.
Shaun Eason is Head of ICT at All Saints Secondary School, Dagenham