Independent poll of teachers and lecturers indicates tablets, front-of-class touchscreens and other technology prevalent in education have been poorly integrated into the curriculum with many teachers and lecturers saying they haven’t received adequate training.
The nationally representative study, which polled 500 primary and secondary teachers as well as lecturers working in higher education identified the devices and software that teachers are using to educate Britain and uncovered the impact of the technology in the educational setting.
Although 76% of the educators surveyed said that they used tablet devices in lessons with iPads proving to be the most popular, 40% claimed that tablets had not been properly integrated across the curriculum. At the front of the classroom, large interactive touchscreens and whiteboards fared slightly better with 35% of those polled stating that their main class display had not been well integrated across the curriculum and with the other technology. As for training, 69.2% said they had not received enough direct support in how to use personal tablets, while 61.7% of the panel said the same of front-of-class technology.
Needless to say, teachers and lecturers were not overly confident using the technology in their schools and colleges citing low confidence scores for both tablets and interactive touchscreens, which suggests that schools and colleges need to invest more in training and integrating classroom technologies so that they work in harmony and don’t become a distraction.
With more than two fifths of teachers/lecturers using apps to support learning, the teaching community certainly seem to be embracing educational software and apps with 43.5% saying that it increases activity within the classroom and 42% noticing better engagement with children in a subject when apps are being used.
The Apple Store, Google Play for Education and Amazon are the most popular three sources for acquiring new applications. Luckily, 70 % of those polled trust some apps to have appropriate content, but trustworthiness generally lies in whether the content is free to use and contained advertising or in-app purchases.
Front-of-class interactive touchscreen brand Clevertouch has tackled this problem head on by introducing a free to use app store for large screens and removing advertising completely from all of the educational apps featured in their store. As a result commercial app stores may come under increasing pressure to reduce the cost of educational apps and increase the standard of those that are currently free to use.
Only a third (33%) of those surveyed felt that too little of the school budget was currently allocated to technology, meaning there is a general appetite for new technology and software in schools. However, there is also an apparent imbalance in the distribution of budget across the educational spectrum, with research data indicating that KS1 pupils are the worst serviced by apps. This is ironic considering these children have grown up with technology and suggests schools and teachers don’t have or don’t know how to apply technology to best support and promote learning in the first two-years of school.
Classroom technology has the power to create a more level playing field particularly when it comes to students with learning difficulties like dyslexia for example, supporting new teaching pedagogies, or as recent research by the OECD identified, helping to extend pupils’ knowledge beyond what they can access from a book. Furthermore, it can help teachers plan and deliver lessons more efficiently, which could lessen the burden on teachers and NQTs, many of whom leave the profession within a year of starting according to ATL figures from April.
Kevin Batley, CEO of Sahara Plc who conducted the research said “As a British technology manufacturer and distributor, I was interested to read the UK Digital Skills Taskforce report last year, which says that Britain lacks the digital skills to meet the demands of an increasingly technology dominated future – and in our experience schools are where these capabilities are nurtured. This skills gap may force British businesses to look further afield for employees with a more desirable skillset.”
Christopher Lloyd, leading educationalist, children’s author and former technology editor at The Sunday Times comments “In many respects the survey is very encouraging as it shows that technology is breaking new ground in education and that the benefits of digital learning can be enormously positive. For example, educational technology can simulate scenarios that you simply can’t do in the real world – presenting remote concepts in real time and letting students interact with them is a great way of involving them in a subject and helping them to understand it.
However, It’s important to remember that software, tablets, interactive touchscreen displays and indeed any classroom technology, ampl