Over the past 20 years, schools in the UK have gone through a transition from the single desktop computer in the corner of the classroom to an abundance of high-tech teaching aids for students to use in lesson times. According to the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), UK schools spend around £900m every year on technology. The figures show schools have bought over 1,3m desktop computers, 840,000 laptops, and around 721,000 tablets.
While a flurry of classroom technology can be nice to have, it’s important that school’s investment is being put to use and students are truly engaging with the technologies available. We’ve pulled together some handy tips on how to get the most out of driving student engagement with technology:
1. Students expect technology to be in place in the classroom. This current generation of Digital Natives has grown-up with technology being second nature. While their predecessors and teachers are learning how to use new technologies, post-Millennials or Generation Z, are being shaped by technology. Schools should harvest this interest in all things tech to encourage student participation in lessons and continuing their learning beyond the classroom.
2. The importance of space. Schools need to assess classroom technology that is currently in place and think about how it fits the space the students work in. While most classrooms are equipped to handle new technology, it’s not the same as using the space available to enable the technology to be used to its best effect. This is detrimental to the return on investment. Therefore by reimagining the physical space, it ensures that it and the technology in place support different learning styles and the fluidity of lessons that engage technology use.
Teachers need to adapt their teaching style to meet the needs of the learners in the classroom and not the other way round
3. Does the technology suit the pedagogy? Teaching style plays a key role in making tech relevant in the classroom. You can have a room full of the latest shiny gadgets, but if they aren’t contributing to enriching the learning experience, they’re not a worthwhile investment. Learning styles must also be considered. Teachers need to adapt their teaching style to meet the needs of the learners in the classroom and not the other way round. This means that the education technology in place needs to be relevant to what the learners require and within their preferred styles, in order to properly support and enhance lessons – learners must be at the forefront.
4. Vary your technology. As impactful as an Interactive Flat Panel Display (IFPD) can be, classroom technology needn’t start and end with front-of-class displays. Schools should research other technologies available and how they can be used alongside existing equipment to maximise learning outcomes. Different technology can provide different benefits and instigate different lesson paths. For example, handheld devices tend to inspire creativity and offer more hands-on learning; this means they can be useful for one-to-one tasks. IFPDs are great for collaborative and whole class learning, while also being useful for reflecting on group or one-to-one work. Crucially schools need to be synchronising their classroom technology so they aren’t operating as separate components, this will provide a more engaging lesson setting.
5. Don’t forget about software. Hardware is often front-of-mind when we think about classroom technology, but we mustn’t forget about the role that software plays in education. Capable of providing teachers with the tools needed to plan and deliver lessons, and then provide the students with an outlet to complete tasks, education software is often the driver that enhances the educational process for students and teachers alike. Software, such as ClassFlow, Promethean’s free learning platform, can also be used for providing teachers with real-time assessment, drilling down to individual students, which allows them to gauge how well the class has understood the lesson. This kind of software not only makes life a little easier for teachers; importantly it empowers both teachers and students to engage in truly collaborative learning opportunities.