Five golden rules for edtech success

Samantha Blyth

Sam Blyth has 12 years experience of working with schools, Local Authorities, multi-academy trusts and teaching school alliances in purchasing and implementing new technology. Formerly national Secondary manager for Discovery Education (formerly Espresso Education and Channel 4 Learning) and national key account manager for itslearning UK, Sam is now responsible for managing the team bringing the hugely successful Canvas VLE/LMS to schools across Europe.

Follow @samantha_blyth

Website: https://www.canvasvle.co.uk Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The subject of technology and education is hotly debated. For every evangelist who promotes the benefits of classroom technology, there’s a report like the OECD’s recent study, which claims that investment in edtech does little to improve pupil performance.

"Look for a system which can speed up the marking process or help create reports."

For Primary education in particular, this scepticism seems to be accompanied by a more innate fear - that our young children, as ‘digital natives’ will lose or fail to develop social skills if they’re bound to computers instead of playing with friends. There’s call for smartphones and tablets to be banned outright from the classroom, and a return to paper, pens and textbooks is supported by many.

But, the more articles on the benefits or pitfalls of edtech that I read, the more I realise that technology proponents and naysayers alike are failing to address the nub of the issue. For me, the problem isn’t with technology itself, but with how it’s being used.

Used badly, or ineffectively, technology can be at best a wasted expense (redundant equipment which gathers dust in the store cupboard) – at worst, detrimental to pupils and teachers alike. But used properly, the right edtech can prove to be the best purchase your school ever made.

I’ve been working with Primary schools for eleven years, and am a parent myself. In all that time of talking to teachers, pupils, parents and carers, I think I have found the most important considerations for any school looking to invest in edtech. These are key ways to ensure that technology is no longer a burden, but instead a genuinely helpful tool in increasing pupil attainment and engagement, and helping teachers out to boot.

1. Work out the problems you need to solve

Primary school teachers face two main challenges: increasing pupil engagement, and easing the burden on teachers. If your main problem is that teachers feel overburdened by admin and bureaucracy, then look for a system which can speed up the marking process or help create reports. If your issue is that pupils don’t care about the lessons, then look for something that will deliver compelling content to support the learning journey. Technology for technology’s sake is bound to fail. If you can’t say, I want my technology to do XYZ, and this is how we’ll use it – then don’t buy it.

2. Don’t leave it to the management

All too often, school technology is bought but not used because systems have been selected ‘from the top’ – by management fulfilling quotas and not by teachers doing the job. If you’re buying technology for your school, my advice is to involve your class teachers in the purchasing decision. It’s often best to get those most resistant to technology involved from the get go, as once you have these teachers on board, they can be truly useful advocates for teaching staff and pupils about the benefits.

3. Engage parents

Parents can be the most fearful group when it comes to new technologies. However, parents can be the biggest advocates your school can have when it comes to edtech, so long as they can see how it can benefit them, and their relationship with the school. Online learning systems bring parents and children closer together, and allow parents to play a more active role in their children’s learning. As with class teachers, engage parents early in the purchasing decision and let them have a say.

4. Open your mind to possibilities…

"Flipped learning allows for teaching to be more interactive and bespoke."

We often talk about a concept called the flipped classroom - where activities that traditionally have taken place in lessons – such as watching online lectures or collaborating in online discussions, are now done at home. Practising activities already learned (traditional ‘homework’) takes place the classroom.

Even at Primary level, integrating the flipped classroom into schools would allow for the in-person teaching that pupils receive to be more interactive and bespoke. Standard rote-type material, which is passively ingested, can be completed at home freeing up classroom time for more tailored discussions; sensitive to the needs of the individual pupil.

This approach can totally change the learning experience for the better. But to get the most out of technology, teachers must be prepared to embrace new techniques and open their mind to a different way of teaching and learning.

5. Evaluate

Businesses are very good at evaluating ‘ROI’ (whether their spend has been effective), schools less so. Stopping equipment from being underused or ignored is vital – and schools must evaluate whether they have achieved significant return on their investment on an ongoing basis. Set rigorous objectives and key performance indicators when you buy any piece of technology, and make sure that you’re achieving what you want to from the get-go.

So there we are. Follow my five golden rules when you’re looking to buy any technology, and you’ll make your purchase a success.

How do you tackle edtech in your school? Share your experiences below!

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now
Login

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"