Lack of technology in the classroom hinders literacy and work-readiness

A new teacher survey has shown that teachers believe technology can boost pupils’ literacy, but poor access to resources and teacher training means many are missing out.
 
The survey of 219 teachers by the National Literacy Trust and funded by Crick Software found that 87 per cent of teachers believe technology can engage pupils with reading, writing, speaking and listening, specifically in terms of motivation, enjoyment and confidence.

What’s more, despite nine in ten teachers agreeing that education should prepare young people for the digital workplace, secondary students are at the greatest disadvantage when it comes to access to, and use of, technology in the classroom.

Three in four teachers believe technology should be made available across the curriculum to support literacy.

Teachers consider technology to have a particularly positive impact on reluctant readers and writers, boys, and less able readers and writers.

Teachers also believe that technology can help pupils overcome barriers to learning by providing differentiated support (63.5%), opportunities for personalised learning (61.6%) and creating an inclusive learning environment (59.4%)
 
However, despite these benefits, teachers said that a lack of investment in hardware, software and wifi is the greatest barrier to supporting learning through technology in the classroom. Indeed, under half (48.4%) of pupils have access to an iPad or laptops and just two in five (39.3%) have access to a desktop computer. Access to newer technologies is even scarcer, with only 2.3% of schools able to provide access to Virtual Reality headsets, 1.4% to smart speakers and 0.9% to wireless headphones.
 
Inconsistent teacher training was also identified as a serious barrier, with 1 in 4 (23.3%) teachers reporting that they have never received initial or ongoing training in using technology to support literacy. Confidence was also an issue, with teachers almost twice as likely to be very confident using technology at home compared to in the classroom (47.4% vs 27.4%). Yet the appetite is there for increased knowledge and learning, with almost a third (30.6%) of teachers having sought self-directed learning in this area and a fifth (22.8%) wanting to pursue a formal qualification.

Secondary students were found to be at the greatest disadvantage when it comes to access to, and use of, technology in the classroom, which is particularly concerning given the need to prepare young people for the digital workplace.

Primary schools were more than twice as likely to have access to laptops (60.2% vs 26.5%) than secondary schools.

Primary schools were twice as likely to have wifi (60.2% vs 31.3%) than secondary schools.

One in three secondary teachers rarely or never use technology to support literacy, compared to one in ten primary teachers.

Primary teachers were almost twice as likely to have received training for using technology to support literacy than secondary teachers (46.5% vs 26.5%)
 
Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “Technology is ever present in children and young people’s daily lives – and it’s here to stay. Teachers believe that technology has the potential to transform pupils’ literacy and learning, yet limited access to hardware, software, wifi and training presents significant challenges to teachers seeking to use technology in the most effective way for their pupils.
 
“To effectively harness the potential of technology to support every child’s learning, greater investment in resources, training and research is needed, as well as support from policy makers, technology companies, academics and fellow education professionals. We must do everything we can to unlock the literacy skills that children and young people need to thrive at school, at work and in life.”

 

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