What is the role of technology in education, what does it mean for the teacher?
With all of this so intrinsic to their ‘outside school’ experience, the challenge for the teaching profession is how to harness all this for learning within the classroom and at home. This generation of ‘digital natives’ has much lower need for libraries of physical content for example, the traditional resource used by students half a generation ago. Learning styles are changing and teachers need to adapt their teaching styles accordingly.
One crucial question is will this new technology actually improve education? The impact of ICT on learning outcomes has been inconclusive, billions of pounds/euros spent – but is generally difficult to evaluate effectiveness in terms of improved results. Nonetheless there are outcomes that are conclusive, and which indirectly impact on learning outcomes. These include improvements in:
- Independent learning
- Parental engagement
- Student and staff attendance and punctuality
- Extending the children’s learning time
With the change in learning styles, the role of the teacher is changing too; as well as being a presenter of lesson material; they also assume the role of facilitator/coach in an increasingly collaborative learning environment.
These two key styles of learning; presenting and collaborating; link directly to some of the different types of technology employed in the classroom. Interactive White Boards have been the bastion of the presenting style of learning, where the teacher is at front of class, and all students are involved in interactive learning.
For the more personalized learning, laptops, netbooks and tablets are increasingly pervasive in the classroom. Globally 2% of students have a mobile computing device supplied by the school, forecast to increase to 7% by 2016.
The crucial point is that the teacher will still want and need to be in charge of the classroom, they may decide to let students use technology for some parts of a lesson but they will still want to be the centre-point of attention and control. This may be at the front of the classroom or, as is becoming more relevant, to be able to move around the classroom and still remain in control. In these styles of classroom environment clearly the ability of devices to talk to each other ie the seamless connectivity between student tablets and front-of-class display, becomes increasingly key.
Different teachers and schools will certainly want to use technology at different paces; in some schools the teachers will be working directly with the IWB all day whereas others will turn it on to highlight a key message and then turn it off. The same will happen with 1:1 computer learning.
Currently 13% of the 34 million classrooms globally have an interactive display, leaving a massive 87% without
Individual 1:1 teaching equipment is not new, in its most basic format many schools use small simple hand-held whiteboards for children to write on, allowing each to write an answer or create a picture which can be held up for the teacher or class to see.
The first individual student communication technology was the voting system, allowing each student to answer questions which could then be automatically collated and attributed to them. Teachers would often start the lesson with a couple of short questions to assess understanding of the previous lesson and if they needed to go back and recap – much more precise then just a show of hands. However mobile PCs (laptops, netbooks, tablets) truly unleash the full potential of 1:1 learning, allowing a fully personalised learning experience for each student.
The concept of the “Flipped Classroom” is a method of teaching which is turning the traditional classroom on its head. Students do not need a teacher there when they are just viewing a lecture which can be done at home, perhaps by watching a video created by the teacher, or when they are completing an assignment.
Teachers do need to be present to help understand issues and work through problems and answer questions. The teacher then becomes a facilitator, tutor or guide and can spend more time one on one with the students. Teachers are finding that they can start to introduce this concept and slowly build on it and does not need to start as a complete radical change
The transition to digital within education is leading to a raft of new exciting opportunities for education. The key factors for schools when considering technology investments are:
- Carefully consider technology investments in the context of their impact on pedagogy
- A need for a clear vision as to how the devices would be utilised and add value to the learning experience.
- Some concepts can be introduced, and slowly built on, without having to start with a complete radical change e.g. the flipped classroom.
- Take a broad approach to investment, considering both presentation style and collaborative style learning, and how the relevant devices communicate and interconnect.
- Consider the student’s holistic learning experience, both in-class and at home and how these can feed into each other.
- Recognise the impact on teachers and the amount of training that will be needed to maximise the benefit of the technology.
sources : sony