Last week the OECD released a report that claimed having technology in the classroom ‘doesn’t improve’ students results and has called to find a more effective approach of incorporating it into schools, such as introducing digital textbooks.
Rather than condemning technology though, we need to take a look at why it hasn’t improved results. Its ineffectiveness is something we are unfortunately seeing across the board in some schools, from iPads in academic classes to 3D printers in Design and Technology.
And the reason is that teachers and students alike don’t suddenly become tech experts just through buying an expensive piece of equipment. Schools need to offer the infrastructure to support technology – but they’re not on their own to deliver this!
Schools may not be aware that free help is available and it is very much a shared responsibility between government, industry and companies to make them aware of this. Without them, technology will not be used to its full potential.
Teachers may not know the latest in 3D scanning, for example, but if schools link up with the industry bodies or companies, STEM ambassadors are more than willing to come to schools to teach how to use the latest technology. This could be training teachers, hosting workshops with students or even leading lessons.
For example, the Autodesk Design Academy hosts learning content for educators and students, which shows them step-by-step how to utilise the latest technology.
There’s also Project Ignite which will give schools fun and interesting ways to bring electronics to life in the classroom, such as building their own space stations and learning how to hack. Learning can also take place out of the classroom by linking up with education platforms, such as Instructables, which many students, educators and parents are using to study new skills like woodworking and electronics.
We absolutely can’t stop funding and promoting technology in schools. We have to remember that anyone who started school this year will be finishing their GCSEs in 2020 and will need to leave school with the skills to fill the jobs that don’t currently, but will exist by then.
And you can bet that they’ll be more technologically advanced than we are now.
If we removed computers and tablets from the classroom, the UK would definitely fall behind. So many countries and companies in Europe are now embracing technology, and because people can move freely across the borders, there’s so much more competition.
The UK is the best country for digital design and engineering, and if we want to stay as leaders, we need to back that up in schools. Many schools are fortunate enough to have access to technology, so all we need to do now is support the learning and training of the staff to be able to start using it to its full potential.