| Teacher's Blog
The Covid pandemic has changed the lives of school children in many ways over the last two years, and its impact on school life is often viewed with negativity. However, one aspect of education that has been propelled to the fore, with a very positive impact, is the much wider use in the classroom of educational technology, commonly referred to as EdTech.
The necessary adaptation of lessons for online delivery has empowered teachers with a plethora of new skills - a very steep learning curve for many, but one which has had wide-reaching consequences. The way that learning takes place has changed rapidly, with staff and pupils readily tackling the complexities of computerised working, managing content online, collaborating on shared projects, engaging with interactive tools and embracing new presentation methods.
EdTech encourages the creation of a more engaging learning environment, with adaptations to suit different learning styles and opportunities to form connections and apply transferable skills. Embracing technology as a tool for pupils to use alongside other, more traditional, educational resources, reflects the way that they use technology at home and is more representative of how they are likely to use computers in their future careers. Today’s pupils, as digital natives, are unafraid of technology, willing to explore its uses and limits in all aspects of their lives. Without embracing this in the school environment, we would be hampering a way of learning that is more natural to them than it is perhaps to their parents and teachers. Allowing pupils to drive their own learning through inquiry and research, with use of the most up-to-date web content, fosters independent thinking skills and helps create more active and focussed learning.
The introduction of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scheme in Years 5 and 6 this term has been very well received, with up to 75% of pupils in each year group signing up to use their own laptop, Chromebook or iPad in school. The children have used their own devices to engage with live video lessons; to research information for humanities and science projects; to choose platforms on which to publish their own writing in a variety of different ways; to create collaborative documents to share their work with others, and to drive their own progress through the use of adaptive online questions.
But is wider use of technology in the classroom a bad thing? Research shows not.
Liu et al. (2014) identified studies where student access to mobile technology was attributed to blurring boundaries between ‘formal and informal learning space’ and extending learning from school into the home. Twining & Maher (2017) found that BYOD strategies appeared to enhance and amplify the existing pedagogical stance of the teachers, fundamentally changing the characteristics of the student learning experience. Twining and Maher also found that, when students were given the opportunity to choose when and where to use their device, they were more discerning about the technology use and its impact on their learning. In other words they focused on what would help their learning (increasing metacognitive skills) rather than the novelty of using devices.
And our pupils agree…
“The good thing about using your own device is that access is quicker and you have your own home screen so you know where everything is.”
“I’ve used my own device for maths and English and I’ve used it for homework too. It’s easy because I can leave tabs open from work I’ve done in class.”
“I can have my own layouts on my screen. I can do my work more quickly because I know my own keyboard and shortcuts.”
“It was really fun to use my own computer to choose how to present my English work.”
“I like having the opportunity to choose to use my own computer to help me in my learning.”
Assistant Head, Assessment & Data, Yr 6 Tutor
With thanks to Fiona Aubrey-Smith for sharing research findings