Technology in education is here to stay. There is no question about it. We live in a world that is reliant on technology in one way or another; you only need to ask recent passengers on British Airways about the reliance we have on technology. But the question to ask ourselves is how are we using the technology available to us and what impact is it having on student learning?
You may or may not have seen the above image but it comes from a very important set of research conducted by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and The Sutton Trust. The EEF evaluated existing research that looked at various pedagogies and assessed the impact they had on student learning: measured in months gained, versus the cost. The various strategies were then placed on a graph that showed whether they were worth exploring. The EEF has produced a toolkit of these pedagogies which can be found here. This summarises the research conducted into each area.
If we look at ICT, it has an effect size of +4 months but comes at a high financial outlay. However, the issue I have with this research is that it sees ICT as its own discrete category. It merely looks at a computer or electronic whiteboard in a room or a specific piece of educational software. What I think is important is if we look at how technology can help support pedagogies such as feedback, meta-cognition, peer tutoring and homework: pedagogies that the EEF have evaluated to give high gains at little financial outlay.
The EEF comments that:
“Evidence suggests that technology should be used to supplement other teaching, rather than replace more traditional approaches”.
As part of my work with the Apple Distinguished Educator community, I have been involved with a project that looks to show how technology, in particular the iPad, can support the pedagogies found in the EEF toolkit. The book can be downloaded for free here.
As an innovation team, we wanted to stop digital technology being seen as its own discreet category. We shouldn’t be planning ‘iPad’ lessons but should be planning lessons that use technology to support traditional teaching methods to enhance the learning of the students. We thought it would be useful for staff to have a place they could go to for ideas and inspiration from across our college. We decided to categorise various Apps and services into the following areas:
Present an Idea
Research an Idea or Topic
Show What They Know
A recent study into the impacts of iPad use in a group of 5 schools in Northern Ireland summarised that “Young children’s maths, English and communication skills improve if they use iPads in school on a regular basis.” You can read the BBC news report here.
As the number of schools that have used the iPad for an extended period of time increases, we are seeing more and more research that devices can help support existing teaching methods to improve engagement, increase creativity, deepen understanding, and allow for richer feedback that is more timely and relevant. None of these studies say that the iPad is a holy grail that will replace traditional teaching methods but they do highlight the fact they are a powerful tool to work alongside existing methods.
So I set a challenge to you: over the next two weeks, visit the ‘Inspire Me’ pages and try just one new activity using technology. Try it in a lesson and see if it could make a difference to engagement, challenge, independence or the way feedback is given. Or even just making something take less time. How do the students respond to this new idea? If it doesn’t work for you, that is fine, but maybe something else does. Try asking the students because they have a wealth of knowledge of what might help them in lesson by using the technology in front of them. Technology will never replace a teacher and it won’t make a bad teacher good but there is a very strong case that technology can have a big impact on the students and their learning.
Jonny Marrows, Music.