Teachers go digital to save precious time

From software for lesson planning to parent communication apps, a variety of services exist to help ease the administrative burden

A recent YouGov survey by an education charity revealed that 75% of UK teachers are reporting symptoms of stress. It is common knowledge that teacher workloads are on the increase in the UK due to the rising demands of paperwork, lesson planning and marking, so what can be done to ease their load? 

Researching and collating information to use in lessons is a key part of many educational roles, and it’s made harder and more laborious by the sheer amount of information that must be sifted through on Google. 

As a result, teachers can spend hours researching online as part of their lesson planning, and tedious admin tasks can eat into precious downtime, or time that could be spent doing more productive work. Additionally, we know that they often have to create presentations to show to their students, which – again – can take hours, and usually involves cutting and pasting information, taking screenshots of articles, and even incorporating social media content into presentations, which are then saved onto their PC or laptop.

It’s not just preparing for lessons that can eat into teachers’ precious time. Students are regularly tasked with creating presentations and collating their coursework into portfolios, which can be a time-consuming task and can often look amateur, despite the effort involved. 

And, as part of regular homework tasks and wider projects, students also have to use the internet to research information on a wide variety of topics, saving images and copying and pasting links of relevant content into documents for reference. Teachers are then faced with the prospect of spending hours reviewing the documents students have created, with no easy way for them to save, access or annotate them. 

Technological revolution

In the fourth industrial revolution, it is no surprise that leveraging emerging and established technologies could provide the key for many teachers looking to reduce the time spent on admin and resourcing.

There is a vast array of tools, services, applications and products available to educators, some developed specifically for the profession and others that are more generic but could be the perfect ally for the classroom. From software for lesson planning and tools for teaching and learning to parent communication apps, a variety of services exist to help ease the administrative burden on teachers. 

Having access to information already curated by a human not an algorithm, for example, could hugely speed up the research process. At Harvard University in the USA and Manchester Metropolitan University, amongst others, staff are using Wakelet, a digital resource that allows teachers to organise relevant information from a variety of sources, including Google and Twitter, into visual collections.

“Researching and collating information to use in lessons is a key part of many educational roles, and it’s made harder and more laborious by the sheer amount of information that must be sifted.” 

Teachers are able to collate relevant information on anything, from historical events to world current affairs stories, and create collections and pages that can be shown to students and updated in real time. There are thousands of collections already made available to view, on subjects as varied as the refugee crisis to the latest season of your favourite TV show. Teachers can tap into content already created by their fellow educators, as well as quickly and easily collating content that comes from discussions they have during their classes.

Elsewhere, schools, colleges and universities are using tools such as Nearpod, a resource that provides a range of pre-made, fully interactive lessons, and Kahoot!, a game-based learning platform and one of the world’s fastest-growing learning brands. 

The ease of use is key; teachers report that they can be up and running on these platforms in no time, and many, like Wakelet, are free to use or have free trials, so teachers can explore and discover the tech that can make their lives easier.