Every day is a school day thanks to technology (and our teachers)
Supplier Focus: Information Technology
On January 1 no-one could have anticipated what 2020 had in store. For school leaders, being told that by Easter they’d be teaching remotely would have been brushed off as fanciful; parents provided with a vision of home-schooling would have laughed nervously; and students told that they’d not work, laugh and play with their classmates for many months would have dismissed it as rubbish.
Yet, by BETT later that month, many of the school leaders we spoke with were already investigating strategies for providing students with 1-2-1 access to technology. A short time thereafter, the world of education changed beyond recognition.
Of course, the importance and positive impact of technology has long been debated. Each generation of learners has had greater exposure to technology in their studies than the generation before, and this was likely to continue.
Then came Covid-19 and the importance of technology had never been greater.
With over 90% of the total student population learning at home (1), visions of remote teaching, home learning and joining classmates on video calls had suddenly become a reality.
It’s not been without challenge, however.
Research suggests that around 2 million students have struggled to do more than an hour a day of schoolwork at home (2), whilst 12% of UK pupils in ‘disadvantaged’ schools are unlikely to have access to a computer and 15% have no ’quiet space’ to study (3).
Challenges exist for educators too. Further research indicates that head teachers in the UK’s most disadvantaged schools fear that a third of their teaching staff lack the technical and pedagogical skills to successfully use digital devices for teaching (4).
It’s undeniable that there have been challenges, but without technology those challenges would have been far greater; education may have ground to a halt entirely.
Now, as education starts to take tentative steps towards a return to ‘normality’, it’s important to harness and expand the positive effects of technology across the whole school community.
Yet, there’s unlikely to be a ‘new normal’. Teachers, parents, and students will need to be flexible for what could be a regular flow of ‘new normals’, with no certainty what any could look like.
The concept of hybrid, or rota-based, teaching and learning is already being debated and ASCL Leaders are advising schools to prepare for disruption well into the next academic term as a result. We also can’t dismiss a further shutdown.
The key is being prepared; prepared to adapt and evolve and to recognise the distinct needs of teachers, learners, and parents in equal measure. Lenovo Education recognises this - agility and flexibility is at the heart of our education offer.
We appreciate teachers are focused on engaging their students, motivating them to be curious, and empowering them to achieve their best. Teachers are now recognising the benefits technology brings in achieving this, but they need it to be uncomplicated, engaging and accessible, maintaining and accelerating the momentum of learning wherever that may be taking place.
One particular challenge is distraction; it’s much easier to secure your students’ focus when you’re together in a classroom, but quite different when they’re studying from home.
Learners, meanwhile, are digital natives brought up with technology. This doesn’t, however, mean that they’re equally comfortable with its use or curious to discover its full potential.
As for parents, they’re no longer simply consumers or business users of technology; overnight they’ve become educators too. For them, technology that eases the process of supporting home learning is vital.
So as education tentatively moves towards the future, the factors influencing IT investments are more numerous than ever before. What does a teacher require in the classroom? Does that change when they’re teaching via video at home? What influences young people to use their devices differently in different settings? Are parents equipped to support learning at home?
Technology for education should never be a one size fits all solution; it certainly won’t be moving forward. Lenovo appreciates this and provides education leaders with a range of flexible and adaptable EdTech solutions for today, tomorrow, and beyond: whatever they may hold.
(1) DfE figures, June 2020 (2) UCL’s Institute of Education (3) OECD (4) OECD