With the government putting £1bn worth of funding behind catch up programmes for the most disadvantaged students in state primary and secondary schools, the focus come September will undoubtedly be on raising attainment and improving outcomes in a post COVID-19 world.
Many schools will need to shift to a blended learning approach – having to support more students splitting their learning between home and the classroom. Obviously, having the right technology and the right strategy to use it correctly will play a massive role in supporting this kind of learning experience.
How can schools and MATs use technology to drive improvement in pupil outcomes, and support the catch up initiative? Let’s take a look at a few key points.
Empowering teachers and educators to lead on digital strategy is key to improving the learning experience and therefore pupil outcomes.
Teachers can have a number of concerns around technology – common ones being time management, knowledge or experience gaps, shifting focus to the tool/technology rather than the lesson content, or anxiety/insecurity around what to do if their technology doesn’t work. It’s important to understand these concerns and work closely with educators to address them – if they don’t feel confident using the technology, they won’t use it, or they will use it, and it’ll just be another tool rather than something which is enhancing the learning experience.
Equally,l ong-serving teachers may have developed their own style, and will not respond well to a prescriptive, top-down strategy. It’s important to nurture and encourage teachers to collaborate, develop their own ideas around using technology, and eventually shift to a digital-first mindset.
Having consistent access to a suitable learning device is a key part of blended learning or flipped classroom approach. One-to-one device initiatives have been shown in many institutions to have a positive impact on pupil outcomes and attainment – provided they are backed by the proper planning and implementation strategy.
For many students nowadays, using technology comes naturally to them – so having their own device to further their own learning proves to be a good motivator. In addition, the right device can make learning much more accessible for students of different abilities and learning styles. Used in the right way, one-to-one personal devices can enhance the learning experience by bringing in new ways of modelling, demonstrating and interacting, as well as encouraging students to learn in their own time and in their own way.
Assessment and feedback
Particularly in a blended learning model, technology can help to streamline a traditionally time-consuming, clunky, but essential part of teaching – assessment and feedback. Without technology, pupils may have to wait several days to get feedback on their work – with technology (obviously still dependent on the teacher’s schedule), feedback could theoretically be offered instantly. In addition to driving an improvement in the student’s understanding or enabling them to quickly learn from mistakes, this could also streamline teacher workload. An additional benefit of using technology rather than traditional markingt to provide feedback is being able to give more detailed feedback. St Margaret’s CE Primary School in Wiltern, Lancashire, uses tablets to record and send vocal feedback to pupils on their home and classwork – helping to improve understanding and provide more accessible feedback for different styles of learner.