Technology now impacts almost every aspect of our lives and the same will increasingly be true in education.
Until recently it was strange that teachers and pupils alike tended to leave the tech-enabled lives behind them as they entered the classroom. But now, increasingly schools and educators are seeing and realising the benefits that technology in all its forms can add to the learning experience and to child and school development and management too.
In fact the ways that technology can help with learning are almost too numerous to go through here and we would certainly encourage you to talk to your school and your child too to find out what their perspective is. But, for us, there are a number of headline ways in which technology helps learning.
Engagement & Motivation
Schools reported genuine excitement over the introduction of mobile devices which in their opinion led to increased motivation to learn. Pupils are almost always described as being more creative, independent and interested and engaged with their schoolwork. This is the case at school and at home where uplifts in engagement with homework was also seen by parents. This also translates into better attendance from those who otherwise have been skipping classes too. Research conducted by Techknowledge for Schools showed motivation was directly linked to three things: interactivity, speed, and range of access to information.
Independent learning is one of the benefits that teachers, parents and students have been most excited about when implementing new mobile learning strategies. Of the reasons to introduce mobile devices, 90% of the schools involved in research conducted by Techknowledge for Schools stated that they had introduced the programme “to support self-led research and problem solving’. Students are more willing to explore, engage and go beyond their current understanding of a subject and are not restricted by the learning styles of others in the class.
Collaboration is extended beyond the classroom and enhanced by instant communication, via email, instant messaging and video chatting. The gap between home and school is also receding with pupils increasingly able to work on the school bus and in the car; and pupils who are away from school for whatever can now keep up with their schoolwork and not fall behind. Collaboration within the school environment also increased with 92% of students saying “I can share my work and collaborate with others in my learning session”. Pupils can also share and collaborate with others on aspects of their learning but who may live in an other country or even another country in their search for advice and guidance.
The schools involved with the research conducted by Techknowledge for Schools observed an increase in creativity almost as soon as personal mobile devices were introduced. Students started using their devices to create, present and share work in a variety ways that were simply not possible before. And all of these Research Schools found that this process of familiarisation and discovery appeared to enhance teaching styles as well as the ability for students to use their device in innovative and creative ways.
Learning and Special Educational Needs (SEN)
1:1 mobile learning allows teachers to differentiate between different learning styles and abilities making them a perfect learning tool for SEN students. Students who ordinarily struggle with traditional ways of accessing and presenting knowledge now not only have more options, but can use the same device as everyone else and are not set apart from the rest of the class. Mobile devices enable students to present information so that it is easily understood, providing a more accurate picture of their abilities and progress.
The jury is still out on the degree to which the use of technology in teaching goes on to impact learning and, ultimately, attainment as measured by exams. At the Foundation we absolutely believe that the jury will not be out much longer and that impact on attainment will be clearly evidenced and visible. Much of the current research was conducted too long ago and isn't measuring what's actually happening now. Using technology in education is not yet and never will be an exact science. The support systems and training and CPD that teachers need to get the most out of technology have yet to come up to meet the challenge and the changes taking place and teachers often find themselves relying on accessing informal rather than professional networks such as are available online. We and the specialist researcher, Techknowledge for Schools, continue to seek the best research to add advice and guidance to schools and parents and please check back regularly to see what's new.