Since September 2016, I’ve visited over 200 primary schools across the country. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with thousands of teachers and a large proportion of these conversations were associated with technology for the classroom.
On the whole, schools and colleges are extremely positive about the impact that technology can have on student engagement and learning outcomes. This positivity is also shared by the Government who have recently released a 5-point action plan for bringing new technology into the classroom.
Despite the positive attitude, many schools and colleges are still finding it difficult to implement technology in their classroom. From my first-hand experience of speaking with teachers, I’ve summarised the four key challenges below.
According to an analysis conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (June, 2018), total school spending per pupil in England has fallen by 8% in England and 5% in Wales between 2009-10 and 2017-18.
With this fall in funding, head teachers are required to make difficult decisions regarding where money is allocated. Technology is not going to be at the top of this agenda and so schools are finding it increasingly difficult to buy new and exciting gadgets to be used in their STEM lessons.
Technology is changing all the time and trends only seem to be relevant for a couple of years. In the same way that individuals upgrade their phones every two to three years, schools and colleges are also required to upgrade their technology.
Schools are reluctant to invest in new technology like Virtual Reality (VR) because of the risk of it becoming obsolete and outdated. From speaking with teachers, it’s clear that renting or leasing equipment is the preferred method of accessing technology, as it doesn’t include the burden of a large investment.
Where to start
Teachers are extremely busy and finding the time to extensively research what technology is out there and what impact it will have on learning outcomes is not always feasible. There are hundreds, if not thousands of technology products available, but where should teachers start when selecting the right one?
From my experience, teachers are interested in trialling technology before they dive in and purchase straight away. Of course, teachers can read reviews and articles about different types of technology but it’s not until you are using it first-hand with your students that you really see the benefits or drawbacks of using an education tool.
Although a significant proportion of the cost is incurred during the initial purchase, schools and colleges often find themselves having to commit further funds and resources once the technology has been purchased. This can include ongoing maintenance costs for replacement parts and troubleshooting any problems that arise, along with investing in staff training to ensure that everyone is confident in implementing it in the classroom.
Purchasing new technology is not only a big financial investment but also a commitment of time, which could be spent planning lessons and marking.
For the past year, I’ve been researching for a new project called EdTech Hub. This online platform aims to encourage primary schools to rent and share technology with one another. Inspired by the sharing economies of today, EdTech Hub is the ‘Airbnb’ of the education sector, aiming to help schools save money and share existing resources.
About the author
Stuart is a qualified teacher who has extensive experience with both primary and secondary schools. He is on a mission to improve access to technology for all schools across the UK and provide innovative ways for teachers to inspire their students through more technology led lessons.