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Strategy & Big Picture

A giant leap forward - EdTech podcast episode 1

This blog post looks at a practical way to ensure the lessons of EdTech during the pandemic aren’t lost forever.

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Jo Hopper

Jo Hopper

Jo is Sparkjar's Head of Partnerships. She has worked in a professional capacity with schools for over 10 years and also spent 5 years as a governor at her local secondary school.

Episode 1 of our podcast series looked at what a difference a year has made to the use of technology in Education, and how we can make sure to take all the good bits from that and bring them with us into the future of our schools.

Undoubtably there were many instances of tech being used as a sticking plaster, a short-term, imperfect fix over the last 18 months. But from speaking to teachers, students and school leaders, it has become clear that there were some real leaps forward using technology to truly improve and support teaching, learning, and student well-being.

The top 3 I heard most were:

1.     The increased communication and engagement between teachers and parents.

With children at home, parents had to step up and fill that face-to-face gap, they had to really engage with their child’s schoolwork and learning. Using technology teachers could efficiently communicate with parents and vice versa

Now technology for communicating with parents is nothing new, but the level of communication required to ensure children and parents felt supported increased dramatically. Lots of schools have said they want to try to keep that close connection between school and parents after the pandemic.

2.     Not having to print reams of paper resources.

If you work in a school, you know all too well the pains of finding and then printing resources for lessons – schools are paper based machines! And ignoring the environmental issues with this, the wasted time standing in front of the paper copier at 7am in the morning just to get there before anyone else is a crime. Being able to find a resource and then share a single copy digitally not only made it quicker and easier for teachers, it also made it easier for students to keep track of the countless resources they’re given each day during lessons. Some schools even had systems in place which allowed teachers to create a library of tried and tested resources which they could all access, and the gold-standard was beaming a live copy of the resource directly onto student devices and annotating it live in the lesson for them all to see. Wow don’t tell me that wouldn’t be useful even in a face-to-face lesson.

3.     People had to get on board with using technology.

As with all areas of life there are some people who love tech and some people who hate it! Probably most of us sit somewhere in the middle. Often a barrier to the uptake of useful technology in schools is the concern by leaders that the investment will be wasted because teachers simply won’t use it. True or false, this assumption means that often decisions to implement technology-based solutions in schools are either walked away from or the can is kicked down the road. No one is better off, nothing has changed.

During the pandemic there could be no arguments about using tech to teach, it was the only way. So even people who were real technophobes had to find a way to get to grips with it. I’m sure for those people it was a painful journey, especially doing it at such short notice with very little training or support, but they did it none the less. And in the process, proved that it is possible, and the concern that people might not use tech should not be a barrier to implementing it if it’s the right thing for your school. The thing to consider is not “should I implement this very good thing for my school” but rather “how do I support people who are not tech confident and ensure school-wide implementation and uptake.

These may resonate with your school experience, or they may not. Either way I bet there are at least 3 things that you felt improved during the pandemic through the use of technology.


What next

It would be all too easy (and excusable) for us to revert back to how we always did things in school; "we’re busier than ever", "it might not have been perfect but it worked", "remote teaching was not a resounding success", the reasons go on!

But, if we can improve things, don’t we have a duty to? And wouldn’t it be inexcusable to lose any progress made through the forced learning curve of the last year? We must be mindful that a significant disparity in the quality of teacher and student experience could emerge in schools who do not grasp these benefits.

Before these experiences become a dim and distant memory, why not use our worksheet to record the top 3 things (or more) that you feel reflect progress through the use of technology in your school/s, so that you can reflect on them when you have the time. You can also fill out section 2 which will start to scope how these might work now we’re all back in school, and how you could build on them going forward.

To request a copy of our EdTech Lockdown Wins worksheet fill out this form.

 
 

Here’s to a bright future for all UK schools and the continued improvement through quality EdTech.


Next episode: We're taking a break for the Summer but will be back with the next episode of our podcast in the new school year. Episode 2 will look at the role of central trust teams in supporting their schools uptake of technology. We'll be speaking to a MAT senior leader to get their take on it.

Sparkjar is the realtime teaching and assessment platform for schools. Our team are a mix of passionate and creative educators and technologists, driven to improve the quality and use of technology within the education sector.

We have created this podcast series to start, support, and enhance discussions around the future of EdTech in schools through meaningful conversations with sector experts.

If you would like to have a chat with one of our team, do get in touch.

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