By Ben Evans, Headmaster at Edge Grove School (www.edgegrove.com)
Today more than ever, technology should be used to make learning and the curriculum more accessible to all abilities as well as more interactive, innovative and exciting. These advancements should also help teachers to provide more easily for all styles of learning; kinaesthetic, visual, auditory etc. Of course, the downside of over-using technology is that it could lead to the loss of essential skills such as handwriting, spelling, presentation of work and using books as a method to explore the cover, blurb, index etc. so it is vital that technology is introduced to pupils in the right way.
At Edge Grove School, the use of iPads was implemented into our lesson planning very carefully to ensure that traditional skills were integrated into that process. Every teacher should ask themselves the question – what technology can I use that will improve pupils’ learning and why? Have I used a range of different methods throughout the day, week and term? Am I able to ensure that all pupils are engaged in their learning or are they using the technology to hide in class, play games or randomly surf the internet?
Making curriculum topics accessible
A teachers’ planning must identify the learning objectives and outcomes and then the IT introduced, to ensure those objectives are achieved and that the outcomes are as high as possible. Our curriculum is based on the principles of discovery (finding out), application (using the information) and communication (explaining understanding) – technology can be used to good effect to achieve all of these aspects of learning.
iPads can certainly be used in the classroom to fantastic effect by carefully choosing apps that meet the above criteria and by teachers observing each other and regularly meeting to reflect on their lessons, teaching and learning outcomes. You may not get it right the first time but that is ok because you will learn from the experience – technology is always a learning curve no matter how advanced you are because it is always changing. The apps make the curriculum topics accessible and aid teacher explanations and encourage independent and group work to fire pupils’ interest and enthusiasm. They should not simply be used to type up work or research.
Further uses include assessment of pupils by collating their work from their iPads to the main class whiteboard and using this to form lesson plenaries and conclusions. Additionally, using apps for them to record their results in different formats (TV presentations/radio broadcasts/power points), explain various maths methods or other topics to ensure that the ‘communication’ aspect of our curriculum is covered.
We shouldn’t ignore the benefits that technology brings to the classroom but at the same time, should we always challenge it and ask ‘is it benefiting our pupils’ leaning? Is it enhancing the achievement of the learning objectives?’ If not, think twice because schools shouldn’t be using technology at the expense of losing traditional skills – that would be counterproductive to say the least.
Used in the right way, technology is however a huge asset in education as many schools have seen, educationally it allows children to access the curriculum in a variety of new ways making their school day more interactive and enjoyable; and thereby boosting further the motivation and enthusiasm to learn. We are certainly fortunate to be teaching in such exciting times with so much technological capability available to inspire, excite and enrich the way that we teach in class.