We live in a world where technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate. From Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, to self-driving cars and smart homes. Yet the Education sector is still finding its feet when it comes to technology to support class-based learning. Together with its challenges, 2020 has demanded the need to adapt and adjust to new ways quickly and efficiently. Undoubtedly, without technology, Schools would fail to function during this pandemic.
Within a classroom environment, there is control. Teachers can manage individuals strategically and sense which students are in need of extra support. The classroom will always be the central hub and nucleus of Schools. Students learn from interaction with others, healthy competition drives their motivation to perhaps want to do well. There is a strong sense of support through friends and tutors. Through physical lessons, students are able to share excitement and passion for subjects through their expressions, class discussions, humour and more.
Student engagement and motivation has been a key challenge in 2020*
How much can students learn in isolation, when much of their learning reflects off their peers? Revision groups, helping each other, going through similar challenges together, to name some of these experiences. Evidently, Learning is not what is merely taught in the classroom — it stretches far beyond our imagination. Therefore, the pressures on Schools following this unfortunate pandemic are unsolvable by technology alone.
Studies show that immense pressures were put upon IT managers, Teachers, Students and even Guardians that now share the challenge of home schooling their children.
Many schools are relying on video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom to continue their usual lesson plans.
These have been successful to an extent, however, managing the overall infrastructure of remote teaching is still a challenge faced by many Schools across the Globe.
According to a recent study conducted with over 8000 educators in the UK, 86% of people say technology should be an integral part of the School learning experience. However, a third have revealed that they avoid implementing technology in the classroom due to poor and unreliable School hardware.
How could they have prepared for the year of 2020?
Already there was an imbalance of teachers that had the desire to implement technology into their classrooms. Perhaps there was little need, as the lessons taught by class-based learning were incomparable to anything technology could offer. However soon, Schools would have no option but to test the deep waters of technology and explore what it had to offer, involuntarily.
Educators expressed that they lacked the appropriate technology and resources, which meant it became a blocker rather than an asset to support their teaching. Others felt they lacked the proper skills necessary to implement technology successfully. 14.9% had negative past experiences of technology, which perhaps shaped their present opinions. Are the technology products offered to Schools simple enough for all users to understand, without an extensive need for training?
According to “The State of Technology in Education” report, only 11.5% of Educators feel they are provided with the right level of CPD training by their School. 41% expressed that the pandemic drove them to find time to train themselves. Nonetheless, how much training time should technology demand from Educators?
The number of tech tools available to Schools today are uncountable. These range in their complexities, some are simple yet others are over-complicated, perhaps due to poor design. Educators and students should be spending more time applying technology rather than training themselves on how to use it. So what is the solution for Educators? And how can technology really help facilitate teaching? Our answer is this — simpler technology.
Tech offered to Schools needs to be simple. It needs to be easy to use, without the need of several CPD training hours. It needs to be scalable and robust, to withstand the large volumes of everyday users. If classrooms are the nucleus, technology should be the mitochondria, driving the class forward silently. We need to ease the pressures off of Schools by pitching simpler solutions which are not intimidating. In a Schools scenario, time is not money, it is education — and that in itself is priceless.
To conclude, Schools may not have been prepared for these challenging times, but they are certainly strong enough to take on the pressures placed upon them. The problem is not lack of technology in schools, it is the lack of simple technology. If it truly is smart, technology should be learning more about its users, rather than Educators spending hours learning the technology. User friendly design and iterative testing is key to successful technology.
No one could have imagined to be in a position where technology was the door keeping Schools open. Time will pass and eventually students and Educators will return to their School routines. However, the year of 2020 has been the greatest lesson of them all. It has taught us that Technology is the network that holds everything together. If the network breaks due to over complexity, we are back to square one.
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