When you go on school visits it’s good to be primed on some of the cutting-edge developments in technology that you might encounter. In this article Matt Britland, Director of ICT at The Lady Eleanor Holles School, takes Winter’s readers on a whistle-stop tour of some of the ways that schools are embracing the future…
Technology is an integral part of any school’s teaching and learning strategy. It is continually developing and helping to support and improve the ways teachers and students work. It can sometimes be hard to keep on top of the ways technology is being integrated into schools so I have compiled a list of some of the latest tech developments.
Many schools are using class sets of iPads or other tablets to support, enhance and transform teaching and learning. Class iPads are fantastic and they are a very useful tool. However, to get the most out of tablets a one-to-one strategy is best. According to a recent survey from Tablets for Schools, in 9% of UK schools there was an individual tablet for every student.
Tablets have become classroom tools
More and more schools are taking advantage of the exciting opportunities that tablets and other devices offer. In Apple’s new iOS 9.3 release they have built in classroom tools for the teacher, making it even easier to manage the iPads their students are using. With a well thought-out digital strategy one-to-one devices can revolutionise teaching and learning in schools.
Many students are more than comfortable using technology, which is fantastic, but often pupils lack the underlying knowledge of how applications are created or how computers are programmed. Coding is now becoming popular in schools, as not only does it teach twenty-first century skills but it also teaches students problem solving skills, collaboration skills and critical thinking.
Websites like CodeAvengers and Codecademy are helping teachers and students to learn to code in a fun and engaging way. These websites are great to use in a classroom or at home, and enable students to work independently and to learn and progress at their own pace.
Cloud storage / online documents
Online services like Google Drive are giving schools the opportunity to take advantage of ‘the cloud’. Google Drive enables schools, teachers and students to not only store documents, video and other files online but to create documents online too. These documents are then available across devices and accessible from anywhere with an internet connection.
Documents created and stored in ‘the cloud’ allow users a greater degree of collaboration. For example, multiple students can work on a document together in real time from multiple locations. It is a very powerful tool! The best news for schools is that it is free and education institutions get unlimited storage. Microsoft have also released their own product called Office 365.
‘The cloud’ allows for greater collaboration
According to the BBC 35% of today’s jobs are at risk of being automated over the next 20 years. The increasing role of robots in the future is being recognised by schools and we are seeing robotics taught more and more.
Building robots using kits like Lego Mindstorms EV3 can be a rewarding as well as educational activity. Combine this with programming and students are able to create bespoke robots that can carry out a whole range of tasks autonomously using a variety of sensors. These robots can even be programmed using an app on a tablet device. The low-cost Sparki kit is based on the popular Arduino platform and is equipped with sensors, motors and outputs, enabling students to control the hardware with either graphical or command line software. Robotics can be used to teach students the important skills of problem-solving and programming.