UK schools used 140 different remote learning tools and providers last term

The Edurio COVID-19 Impact Review surveyed over 45,000 stakeholders across the education sector, including parents, pupils and school staff

Last term, in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, schools across the UK relied on more than 140 different education technology tools and providers to support remote learning, according to a detailed study by Edurio.

Surveying more than 45,000 stakeholders across 277 English schools (including 22,729 parents, 14,432 pupils and 8,177 staff members), the Technology Use in Schools During COVID-19: Edurio COVID-19 Impact Review for the summer term 2020 explores the edtech wins and losses from one of the most disrupted and complex eras the sector has seen thus far.

Developed in partnership with United Learning, the survey was launched in June 2020, before the new academic year began in September.

With the pandemic forcing businesses and education providers to migrate their daily practices and offerings online, it simultaneously accelerated the adoption of technology across every industry and education level. For the education sector specifically, this resulted in the uptake of diverse tools, services and solutions that enabled both students and staff members to learn and work from home.

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Consequently, eight in 10 teachers have made use of edtech tools they had never tried prior to the pandemic, three-quarters of whom would feel confident and positive about using said tools when the crisis is over. One in five teacher respondents, on the other hand, reported experiencing tech-related issues that impacted their ability to work.

“During the summer term, schools across England were forced into countless experiments on how to provide learning remotely at scale,” said Ernest Jenavs, CEO of Edurio and co-author of the report. “Technology was a key element of those, with eight out of 10 teachers reporting they used tools they hadn’t used before. More importantly, out of those who used new tools, three quarters said they are likely to use them after the disruption is over. While technology hasn’t replaced the role of teachers, if used well, it has supported it and enabled a better learning experience through the disruption. Looking forward, it is critical we collate these lessons and consider how we can use them to provide a better education for our children.”

The review also points to the growing digital divide, with 40% of parents with primary-aged children, and 32% of parents with secondary-aged children, citing the need to share devices across their family as their biggest challenge last term.

As Dominic Norrish, COO of United Learning, writes in the report: “The uses to which staff have put digital tools are both unsurprising and encouraging, as more than half of staff report using technology to support key processes underlying effective teaching. We shouldn’t brush past what an achievement this is, considering the starting point in March 2020. Yet, it is also clear from the responses of pupils that there are worrying equity gaps in provision that the country must address. This report sheds helpful light on the features of schools’ response to the pandemic and asks the sector to reflect on which aspects of remote education should be retained as we navigate ongoing uncertainty on the path back to stable classrooms.”

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