Keeping up with edtech developments

Craig Ring, Head of Canvas and Pastoral Leader for Year 7 discusses how schools can implement and use edtech effectively

What holds education institutions back from adopting technology in the classroom?

Budget constraints and time constraints can be contributing factors. Fear of technology failing and showing the institution up can also make people wary. ‘Will it all work, or will my iPad fall apart when an OFSTED Inspector walks through the door?’ is a common fear.

Why should educators keep up with the rapid pace of edtech change? How do they do it?

It would be impossible to keep up with every change. Edtech opens up opportunities for students to collaborate in ways that may have traditionally been restricted to the classroom. Through blended learning and flipped learning approaches, content can be viewed at home so that students have a basic understanding before heading into the classroom.

Companies are using more and more technology all of the time and it is important for students to learn in a way that will provide them with skills for the careers of the future

Companies are using more and more technology all of the time and it is important for students to learn in a way that will provide them with skills for the careers of the future.

At Rooks Heath, assessment, feedback, revision materials and worksheets can be delivered through Canvas. We can take advantage of the hundreds of times students pick up their electronic devices outside of the classroom.

Teachers and lecturers are busy, and time-poor. If they only have ten minutes a week to stay up-to-date what would you suggest?

Twitter is an excellent provider of inspirational ideas. Get an account and search for ed-tech or particular practitioners of interest. You will find a massive community of enthusiasts and streams of articles that are trending. The best part is, you can find ideas that can be read in 140 characters or less.

Will the changes in education funding have an effect on the adoption of edtech? Will fewer resources resources mean slower change?

Absolutely. Funding cuts seem to only be getting worse and I fear that this will mean that some schools will see tech as a luxury. However, the opportunity to save on admin expenses, saving time with workflows using Google Docs and enticing new students with modern systems may help management teams view technology as a worthwhile investment.

Should technology be more integrated with teachers’ and lecturers’ CPD?

We now use Canvas for Performance Appraisal and this has helped us to make informed decisions on CPD needs across the school. Staff earn badges through Badgr for their attendance at chosen sessions. The time it takes to complete administrative tasks for CPD has been significantly reduced.

Can teachers and lecturers still operate effectively without knowledge of what technology is available?

I am a firm believer that teachers are vital for students to succeed. Technology is not replacing teachers, but instead providing new ways for teachers to deliver top notch pedagogy. Traditional approaches still resonate, but tech could make them more effective.

How important is it that teachers understand what their pupils use? Should teachers use platforms like Snapchat?

I have mixed feelings about this. It could help you choose your method of online resource delivery. However, secondary school students dislike teachers trying to be ‘down with the kids’. Once parents found Facebook, students found somewhere else to play. That being said, ask a class to teach you about tech and they will be invested. They’re the experts! It goes without saying, but keep your personal accounts locked up.

There’s a wide variation in practice and attitudes towards some edtech. Some schools have embraced BYOD and others ban phones. How do we reflect modern life in the classroom with tech?

Personally, I would like to embrace technology and teach students how to use it appropriately and effectively. However, as Pastoral Leader for Year 7 I have seen my fair share of misuse and can understand why schools are nervous about it. Establish a list of expectations and build them into the school’s BFL policy. Rooks Heath are now moving from a school-wide ban to a BYOD model and I feel it is going to introduce more opportunities than problems.

Some schools and teachers are still skeptical of the benefits of tech. How could they be engaged with the benefits that tech brings?

There are lots of options for free CPD. YouTube videos are a great source of alternative ways to use programs that teachers are already familiar with. Try out the Google Certified Educator training modules. I have just successfully passed my Level 2 exam and felt inspired by ideas provided by other teachers. Search Twitter, TES and other sources. You could also go and visit a school such as Rooks Heath College and speak to educators that are using tech to transform lessons. It is important to find leaders to push technology forward and show others how easy it can be to use. Leaders can emerge from teaching staff, associate staff, senior leaders or even the students.

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