In the world we live in today, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to new technology and innovations. On what seems like a daily basis, there are new developments of apps and software that we now can’t live without - from Whatsapp to Songkick, there’s always something new to grab our attention and it’s the same in the classroom.
The edtech industry is booming, it’s estimated at present to be worth £45bn globally, expected to increase to £129bn by 2020. Based on these figures alone, it highlights the importance of Tech Leaders and also of the implementation and use of technology in schools.
As with most things education related, there is some controversy surrounding the use of tech in schools - some disapprove of learning on tablets in class whereas others applaud education for resonating with Generation X through the devices they’re most attuned to. We believe that tech can be used to help enhance the running of schools and contribute to the learning outcomes of students, but also recognise that technology can never replace the worth of a teacher. We also believe that when done right, technology can help to accelerate teachers’ learning and workload management enabling them to further progress in their careers.
Of course, we are slightly bias in our inclination to favour the use of technology in schools, after all we create apps and products that enhance the school management and learning experience for teachers and students. Currently, our flagship homework software is used by 1500 schools around the country, and we’re able to help them achieve tangible results when it comes to improving the management of homework in schools and it’s through our proven results that we’re able to continually attract new business. However, as the potential for profit in the edtech industry grows, it can be difficult for teachers on first inspection to decipher whether or not the software they’re looking at has been made to offer real value to the school and students, or for monetary purposes.
We spoke to José Picardo, Deputy Head at Hampshire Collegiate School and an inspirational member of SLT who has a passion for technology, to find out his thoughts on technology in schools and the impact it has had on his journey to leadership but also his opinions on its impact on teaching and learning.
Bio: José is Deputy Headteacher at Hampshire Collegiate School. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and writes about pedagogy, curriculum, technology and how they intersect to produce great teaching and learning. His latest book Using Technology in the Classroom is due to be published in November 2017 by Bloomsbury.
To read more from José take a look at his blog here.
Technology's impact on teaching and learning
Throughout my career I have been fortunate to work with inspiring, committed colleagues and under clear, empowering leadership. This created an environment in which the adoption of technology to support teaching and learning was not seen as an obstacle, but as an opportunity to develop new ways to deliver our curriculum, improve classroom practices and foster the learning habits that students need to thrive and flourish in their endeavours.
So, when we decided to explore the opportunities that providing students with tablets could bring, our focus was firmly on how technology could support teaching and learning, concentrating on those practices, tools and workflows that showed the most promise according to our experience and the available research findings whilst disregarding all other extraneous, gimmicky applications of technology.
Whilst we are aware that any direct impact that technology might have on learning is notoriously difficult to measure, we realised it was erroneous – even irresponsible – to dismiss the use of technology altogether without exploring how it could support those strategies and interventions which have been shown to improve outcomes, such as improving feedback, collaborative learning, metacognitive strategies and self-regulation in learning.
We set upon creating a culture in which professional development intertwined content knowledge, pedagogy and technological competence and a climate in which using technology was no-fuss, mundane and, perhaps counterintuitively, non-essential. Teachers, parents and students quickly realised that the use of technology was not an imposition, but an addition to their teaching and learning toolkits. We found that adoption was encouraged, not hindered, by this lack of compulsion.
We understood that effective teaching and effective use of their resources were not mutually exclusive. We realised that careful and purposeful application of technology improved the quality of instruction and noticed how it had a positive impact on classroom climate, classroom management, the timely delivery of feedback, and even the type and quality of the homework we could set.
We also understood that in a traditional, yet technology-rich environment such as ours, systems to curate and deliver content to our students quickly became our top priority, ensuring that these systems incorporated in their design principles such as dual-coding, distributed practice, modelling of solved problems and retrieval practice.
Throughout our tablet implementation, the focus was on pedagogy and curriculum. Technology use eventually became invisible and satisfyingly unremarkable. Perhaps this should be seen as the principal, most indicative sign of the success of any digital strategy.