Abdul Chohan, EdTech guru, shares his thoughts on what should happen in 2020 to make EdTech a valuable tool in every classroom.
Technology has become increasingly simple and reliable over the last 10 years. Gone are the days of having to use laptop trolleys that will have three laptops that may not work whilst others do not connect to the Wi-Fi. We live in a time where access to simple and reliable technology is within reach.
The idea of a 1:1 technology programme may still be a debatable issue in the UK, however a number of schools I am working with in different countries, rely on equitable access to technology for each child. The focus must always be adding value to the teaching methodology used by teachers. A number of schools have initiated the use of digitised verbal feedback over images of handwritten books, so the handwriting is not hindered, as final exams are still ‘pen to paper’ in many countries. Others are using the ‘dual-coding’ approach, as hypothesised by, Allan Paivio of the University of Western Ontario in 1971, albeit captured in a digitised format with simplistic hand drawn visual imagery along with verbal association using voice over.
Additionally, it is imperative that we teach our children when and when not to, use technology. Digital intelligence as outlined by the world economic forum is an area that needs promotion in schools and with adults in society. A number of tools are available that can regulate screen time and downtime with individual apps and devices as a whole. For example, the ‘classroom’ app on the iPad can lock down all iPads in classroom when the teacher does not want to use technology. It’s not about the apps although some can add value. Kaligo an intuitive, self-improving and monitoring AI handwriting tool. Showbie which is brilliant for bringing tasks and digitising verbal feedback together. Hologo is a library of augmented reality objects that can be add value for teachers explaining abstract concepts or for primary and secondary teachers.
Simply increasing technology and delivering devices is not an effective strategy. It is important to measure tools for simplicity and reliability. School leaders must consider operational efficiencies that allow for saving time, cost and help develop the workforce.
After running impact studies in 5 schools in different contexts and different countries it is possible to see some operational benefits including but not limited to , reduction in photocopying, reducing the time it takes to give written feedback, increased number of responses from students responding to the teachers verbal feedback, easy access to resources, increased access from home.
Senior leaders in the above schools were able to devise more efficient systems of monitoring, work scrutiny and moderation that saved time and increased accountability whilst providing relevant professional development due to increased transparency.
Know your ‘Why?’
Knowing your why helps you stay focused. It’s important that you follow a vision for technology and not a path. Every context is different and it’s important to ask, ‘What can you do now, that you couldn’t before?’. The goal is to add value and allow for a better, adapted, personalised learning experience. It’s not about being the first, it is more about ensuring the first thing that matters. It is important that we are not distracted by the new but focused on the significance of the new. Being able to measure this significance through impact studies will help guide an organisation in to ensuring that it is focused on adopting that which makes a positive difference and equally is able to say ‘no’ to those tools that are a hindrance.
Some key areas to think about when implementing a digital strategy:
- Communications: Getting your communications right to staff, pupils and parents is a must. You should outline the vision and the ‘Why?’ along with an agreed workflow (how students send and retrieve work from teachers) be able to have a clear approach to managing screen time.
- Equitable Access: Students should be able to use technology to help support additional gaps in their own learning needs. Dyslexia, EAL, visually impaired amongst others can be supported by features embedded in technology. Ensure your school makes use of this.
- Training: Regular and relevant professional development. Share best practice across the school. Students can be trained as digital leaders to support students, teachers and parents.
- Measuring: Measure your approaches and ideas, including the digital tools for simplicity, reliability, effectiveness. Determine qualitative and quantitative approaches to measurements.
- Operational Efficiencies: Look for opportunities to save time, cost and develop the work force. Reduction in workload, photocopying and routine tasks that can be done more efficiently using cloud-based technology like G-suite and Office365
Abdul Chohan has worked with hundreds of schools in the UK and Internationally, supporting digital strategies in schools. You can see Kaligo at BETT on stand FS25.