Research- Using technology to improve learning

It is important that whatever changes and investments we make in relation to technology in education they are backed up with credible case studies and research.

Here is quick summary of 4 recommendations by the EEF’s report support the implementation of new technologies in your school. I have also added some useful contacts and further supporting resources.

Every school will be at a different stage of their digital learning journey but its worth stopping to know exactly what state your current state is.

Consider:

  • Your physical infrastructure- find out how new and up to date your WiFi, network and online storage is. If it needs upgrading to support x30 new iPad devices it will likely take more time and money.
  • What your staff use- how do your teachers share and communicate with planning and resources? Are you happy with this level of collaboration or do you want to upgrade your capacity?
  • What your children use- how often do they access devices and what apps they use will link into the type of technology you will want to invest in while keeping an eye on the 5 year plan
  • What training is required for teachers and teaching assistants?
  • What initial support will be required to introduce pupils to the technology being used? Will some pupils need additional ongoing support to use it effectively?
  • Is there appropriate space within or outside the classroom for pupils to use the technology?
  • How will delivery of the approach (implementing) be monitored to ensure effective impact?

Whether you are going for a new IT suite with Chromebooks or one-to-one iPad devices get in touch with your current school IT support and ask for a consultation about your next steps.

Considering new iPad devices? Ask for a free consultation from Jigsaw24.

Modelling and differentiation

Technology can help to break down learning barriers and support metacognitive pedagogical approaches to learning but only when effectively used.

The introduction of the interactive whiteboard (IWB) is a good example of how new technology can support a wider range of inputs and model formats. However when the board breaks the teacher goes back to pen and paper again. What the research shows it that it isn’t the use of technology to help support modelling but the way that the teacher deliverers it to the student. Moreover schools should spend time supporting their teachers and staff to effectively use new technology in the classroom.

Ensure your staff can model effectively and share examples of work using screen mirroring. You can connect an iPad device to the IWB a number of different ways. The most popular are: AppleTV Air Play, AirServer, Reflector or using a physical wired connection for your HDMI or VGA adapter.

A lack of confidence to use technology for modelling is one of the biggest barriers our profession faces when it comes to using technology in the classroom.. It is worth starting small and getting familiar with a handful of apps to ensure your staff develop their own skill set.

Take a look at these recommended apps for teachers will low confidence and experience of technology.

Finally, the research suggests modelling with technology may be most effective when used as a supplement rather than a substitute for other forms of modelling. This is true. Adapting to the needs of your pupils will inevitably mean you will need to dip in and out of technology. However, the accessibility tools for Lower Ability, SEND and EAL children is a wonderful addition to your classroom modelling and differentiation armoury.

Further reading:

Accessibility with Apple by Sean Arnold ADE– looking at features such as vision assistance, interaction, auditory assistance and recommended apps/

Further reading on accessibility features using iPads Simon Hayhole, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Measuring and improving impact

Technology offers learners to opportunity to become fully integrated with their learning. Educational apps can assess, track and evidence pupil performance and feed the information back to the pupil, parents and teachers instantly. If used effectively, these tool can help save time with formative and summative assessment as well as provide information on gaps in learning.

Technology can also support retention and recall knowledge through interactive and engaging quizzes. Kahoot.com it is a great place to create and play quizzes in your classroom for pre and post learn assessments.

The research acknowledges that technology can be engaging and motivating for pupils. However, the relationship between technology, motivation and achievement is complex. Ensuring your schools identifies and supports children who are not regular uses of technology at home can help reduce the risk that technology becomes a tool that widens the gap between successful learners and their peers.

Educational apps like Seesaw and Showbie have enabled teachers to adapt practice effectively. For example these apps allow pupils to choice their own level of challenge and access new contexts in which students are required to apply new skills.

Technology has the potential to improve assessment and feedback, which are crucial elements of effective teaching. Verbal ‘on the spot’ feedback can be mimicked with instant virtual marking. Teachers can access current work using something like Google classrooms and provide written and oral feedback that can be re-played and responded to in real time.

The research goes on to state technology can increase the accuracy of assessment, and the speed with which assessment information is collected, with the potential to inform teachers’ decision-making and reduce workload. Reducing teacher workload is an important element to consider when investing in new technology and software.

Read the further research from the Teaching and Learning Toolkit

Further reading:

Teacher tips for Google classroom and virtual learning- TES article online by Grainne Hallahan

Google classroom top tips for teachers by Kasey Bell

Read the whole report here: Using Digital Technology to Improve Learning.

Published by Mr K Education

Tom Konsek is an Apple Distinguished Educator and Primary school teacher in the East Midlands, UK. He shares his innovative ideas about curriculum and technology via his blog.

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