A look at school-based technology

Dave McGrath

Dave McGrath is a technology consultant based in Liverpool with over 20 years’ experience. He highly recommends Symec for any data collection requirements and ID card printers.

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It can be difficult for teachers, particularly those in the early stages of their careers, to implement technology effectively in their classroom. Here, Liverpool tech-specialist Dave McGrath discusses a few things that teachers can do to enhance learning via specific technologies.

When it comes to technology, schools have changed radically in recent years. More and more, tablets, laptops and mobile devices are being used to enhance the learning experience. The use of technology extends beyond the classroom too. Thanks to the easy availability of data capture solutions, many schools are now adopting card swipe systems to boost security and efficiency.

Learning

Teaching is all about communication, whether on a one-to-one basis or in larger groups. Some people learn better with visual aids, some people by listening, and others by doing. It’s a challenge for teachers to ensure that all of their students are learning the same lessons at the same rate.

Thankfully, the development of technology means that, increasingly, teachers have greater access to online materials that can aid learning. Computers are also becoming more commonplace. According to Naace, the student/computer ratio in secondary and special schools is 3:1, and in primary schools it’s 6:1. Online learning is on the rise at secondary level, with 93% of secondary schools using online learning platforms. Even better news for the future of technology in the UK is that an estimated 97% secondary school children and 94% of primary school children have internet access at home.

Portability

It wasn't that long ago that schools were shunning old fashioned blackboards in favour of interactive whiteboards. Nowadays, however, more and more schools are using laptops and tablets that support learning platforms, allowing teachers mobility in the classroom and ensuring that the students are always practising their computing skills.

Beyond the classroom

Beyond the classroom, technology is being used to make schools safer and more efficient places. In many schools nowadays, students are tracked entering and exiting schools through card swipe, ID tags, coded entry and biometric recognition technology. These solutions are used to track attendance and address truancy. Students can also check out books from the library, pay for lunch and gain admittance to school buildings using this technology.

Incorporating technology

Although teachers have a lot of resources at their fingertips, the number of options can sometimes make choosing technological solutions daunting. It is important that all technology used helps rather than hinders learning and, where possible, allows students to practise their computing skills. Bearing this in mind, here are a few ideas on how to incorporate technology into teaching:

  • Set and receive homework via Google Docs, Dropbox, or other `cloud` technology.
  • Use calendars such as Google Calendar to show the prevision for the term and any important dates such as exams.
  • Make use of interactive online teaching resources from specific websites.
  • Set investigative homework on the subject that you’re planning to teach in the following lesson.
  • Get students to collaborate on projects both together in the classroom and also at home on their own, via the internet.
  • Instead of only setting writing homework, why not get the students to make videos?

With technology being used more and more in everyday life, it is important that the next generation are equipped with the skills needed to negotiate the modern world. Technology clearly has a lot to offer in terms of enhancing learning, teaching, safety and efficiency, so it’s important that any school that wants to create a secure, engaging learning environment keeps abreast of the latest developments.

Have you utilised any of these methods in your classroom? Let us know in the comments.

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