Thirty two state schools across Britain have launched crowdfunding campaigns to buy the latest technology products and services in the second wave of Rocket Fund, a dedicated crowdfunding platform for schools.
To help the schools reach their goals, Nesta and five pioneering businesses – Jisc, Mint Digital, pi-top, Busuu and Croud – are providing match funding, all flagging the urgent need for more digital skills and the responsibility of businesses to help schools to keep up with technology.
Schools from Devon to Aberdeenshire are raising money to enrich lessons and enable students to access the latest technology. Campaigns range from raising funds for a set of drones to start a drone academy, a portable recording studio for a school radio show, Chromebooks to enable flipped learning and spy cameras to monitor local wildlife. Within two weeks, five of the projects have already reached at least 50% of their target and one school has managed to reach its target of £1,250 to buy 4 iPads for their reception class.
Schools are traditionally quite risk averse. Rocket Fund allows for experimentation, which is an important part of the process of change
Daryl Rodrigo, Vice President at pi-top, creators of DIY computers says: “We agree that education in tech should be a big priority. Classrooms haven’t evolved much over the last hundred years, possibly excluding the introduction of interactive whiteboards. Schools are traditionally quite risk averse. Rocket Fund allows for experimentation, which is an important part of the process of change. There also needs to be a wealth of diversity in the people who work in tech and this should begin at school.”
The Rocket Fund platform, built by innovation foundation Nesta, was set up in 2016 to test whether the model of crowdfunding could work to support more effective use of technology in the classroom. Previous Nesta research showed that while hundreds of millions of pounds has been spent on technology in schools, there is very little evidence that it has any impact on learning and attainment. The Rocket Fund pilot is testing how, through crowdfunding, teachers can more easily try the new things they think will benefit their pupils, whilst writing reviews and developing case studies to advise other teachers in the future.
Ben Gill, who is leading the Rocket Fund project at Nesta says: “Rocket Fund creates a space for experimentation. It allows both teachers and pupils to play with new technology, and make an assessment of its effectiveness based on real world usage. In the second phase of Rocket Fund we are asking for businesses to get involved by match funding projects to help teachers reach their goals. Once schools have had the kit for a few months, we then ask them for a review and case study to help other teachers in the future. Now they’re able to buy any tech product they want, it’s exciting to see what sort of things they’re choosing.”