The advent of technology is changing the way education is delivered. No longer tied to traditional methods, teachers are able to take learning beyond the classroom. Lessons are no longer confined to the school day or, indeed, the classroom. The use of websites and apps for sharing information means that both teachers and their students can access their work from almost anywhere, at any time and most schools now offer a ‘virtual learning environment’.
Children are now becoming computer literate from an early age, due to access to tablets and smartphones at home. This means they are likely to start school much more tech-savvy than previous generations.
Schools are harnessing these skills from the get-go; software like Education City is used creatively in Early Years settings, bringing topics such as maths, science and phonics to life for their youngest learners via touch-screen technology.
Digital learning means that physical limits to accessing knowledge are disappearing and many innovative schools are introducing tablets to classrooms to allow instant, mobile access to research and new ways of learning.
Utilising smartboards, rather than the conventional black or white boards gives an extra dimension to facts and figures; students are encouraged to get out of their seat and interact with the information. Teachers’ scribbled notes on documents shown on the smartboard can be saved and emailed, which is useful for both revision purposes and for absent students.
With programmes such as Kahoot and Socrative, teachers are taking advantage of their students’ addictions to screens by involving mobile phones as part of lessons. Through quizzes and games, understanding of concepts and ideas can be checked in a fresh format. The popularity of social media is being utilised, with educators engaging their students in wider learning and sharing good practice with peers.
Technology is also helping teachers educate more effectively. Maths, for example, lends itself to online testing and marking, which cuts down on teacher workloads and having instant access to a student’s progress online allows for easier achievement tracking and the personalisation of future lessons and longer-term goals.
Current buzz term ‘the flipped classroom’ is a pedagogy which is changing traditional classroom activity. Instead of teachers delivering information in class, pupils taking notes and then going away with homework to build on their understanding, students can now research a topic beforehand (via YouTube video lectures, a blog post or an online discussion for example), then bring that knowledge back with them. In this way, the students facilitate their learning; the teacher shapes the lesson according to what they already know.
Additionally, technology gives parents the ability to engage with their children’s education in real-time. Systems such as SIMS Gateway create a shared online area that displays, amongst other things, attendance, behavioural issues and rewards as they occur, as well as a record of the homework that has been set.
Coding – the subject of the future
And technology is not just influencing how subjects are being taught; it’s also motivating what subjects are being taught. In September 2014 Information and Communication Technology was replaced with Computing so all schoolchildren, from Reception level upwards, will now be taught coding basics and, later, app creation.
With computers becoming integral to all facets of life and demand for technical skills growing at a rapid pace, teaching coding from a young age is incredibly important to ensure the next generation don’t get left behind by the ‘digital divide’ and have a wide choice of career options ahead of them.
Matt Powell is the editor for Broadband Genie, an independent switching site providing consumers and businesses with practical help, advice and price comparison for home broadband, mobile broadband, phones, TV services and mobile accessories.”