According to research released in March this year, teachers are leaving the profession in their droves to become private tutors, blaming long hours and unsustainable workloads as the root cause of this change.
That the teaching profession is facing a recruitment and retention crisis is a well-documented issue. The sector has long laid victim to austerity cuts alongside mounting pressures to improve teaching standards and academic results with no additional provision.
This backdrop has catalysed a sense of low morale and disengagement among teachers – passionate individuals who have an enduring vision to make a real difference to children’s future during these all-important formative years. Instead, the profession has become a relentless often thankless job for many, where teachers are unable to reconcile time and resources with providing meaningful support to students who need help the most.
Can technology be used to not only address the disengagement problem and increase student mastery of subjects, but also alleviate the excessive admin and paperwork that is preventing teachers from doing what they do best – teach?
Students who have mastered the content are given an extension activity that engages them while I get to work with students that are struggling with the content. – Carolina Carner, grade 6 science teacher at Chisholm Trail Middle School, USA
There is every indication that the classroom and teaching profession will change through a next generation of technology that will provide under-resourced schools the ‘extra pair of hands’ they need to address the talent deficit and the quality of teaching needed to finally move the needle on learning.
Today’s next breed of edtech apps are doubling up as a teaching assistant of sorts. These transformative innovations are doing a number of vital things. Firstly, they are giving teachers access to valuable real-time data and insight into classroom and individual student performances so that learning gaps can be easily identified and addressed just as assessments are being performed. Secondly, they are making the learning process more engaging, using gamification mechanics to motivate, drive mastery and optimise memorisation. The key thing is that many of these invaluable resources are free, with additional analytical features that can be unlocked with a premium subscription that costs a fraction of the budget a school typically spends on using just one, often outmoded, edtech app.
“Edtech apps like Quizalize have brought new life back into my teaching career,” said Carolina Carner, a grade 6 science teacher at Chisholm Trail Middle School in the US. “I used to spend hours assessing and trying to put children into groups. This is a labour-intensive process, which saw me investing lots of additional hours at weekends and weekday nights undertaking the analysis to identify learning gaps and prescribing exercises to drive mastery over weak areas. Time is precious to teachers, and this programme in particular has saved me so much time.”
Three science teachers at the school in Texas have been using the assessment app Quizalize, which is powered by Zzish ‘teacher dashboards’ – a universal platform that enables any edtech app to ‘plug in’ and aggregate performance data into an easy report that diagnoses those all-important learning gaps.
The teachers have been using the formative assessment tools for the last six months to help prepare students for the District Common Assessments (DCA). The results reported were quite outstanding, with students scoring an average of 8 – 10% more in tests compared to last year where edtech formative assessment apps were not used in teaching or deployed as part of homework.
Moreover, the software resulted in several other noticeable side benefits: the teachers perceived that students were more willing to learn; students displayed more confidence in completing assessments; teachers were able to use the data to deploy more bespoke exercises to individual students depending on ability and, crucially, teachers were starting to enjoy teaching once again.
Innovations in AI and within edtech is allowing teachers more time to deliver a more quality, empathetic, human-centric style of teaching that a computer simply cannot. Furthermore, with tech-enabled gamification mechanics, learning is deployed in a way that appeals to a young generation of digital natives. The result? Children learn better because they are engaged, and teachers teach better because they now have the breathing space to give struggling students the attention they need to succeed.
Carner continued: “You can see how happy my students are when they are successful at mastering an assessment. Sometimes students learn the most when they do fail at something and don’t get the questions right the first time around. The Quizalize and Zzish apps allow the kids that do require the extra practice to do so at home and before school as well. It also allows me to differentiate abilities and set assignments against these. For example, students who have mastered the content are given an extension activity that engages them while I get to work with students that are struggling with the content. I get quality time with my students that need me the most, and ultimately these children develop the confidence and aptitude to succeed. It’s for these very reasons that I am very thankful for applications like Quizalize. It has helped me to enjoy my job as a teacher all over again.”