As technology develops and becomes more integrated in our daily lives, it’s vital that schools keep up with this and ensure that children have the skills to equip them for their future. Getting the right technology in the classroom can be a daunting prospect, but here are a few tips to get you on your way.
Make sure it’s been road-tested
At hi-impact, we are early adopters of new educational technology. This allows us to try out new things, see what works and bring the tech to the classroom, but it does have it’s pitfalls! Often we will find that new tech isn’t as robust as it needs to be to stand up to children’s sometimes less than tender care, and so perhaps isn’t a good option for our schools. What looks good on the BETT futures stand might not actually be quite so practical in the long-run.
If you’re looking to invest in technology then make sure it’s fairly well-established, has good reviews and will be able to cope with daily use by the children. It’s sometimes worth waiting for the tech to be further developed or paying a little more for an established brand that you know will be reliable and durable.
Is it right for your school?
In these days of tight budgets, every purchase needs to be carefully thought through. It’s a good idea to consider how much use you’re actually going to get from the purchase. Subscriptions to online services are often the worst culprits – what might seem a good option isn’t cost-effective if only one member of staff is using it. Often it’s worth looking at how broad the use is going to be, and what the scope is for progression. Does it have room for development? One-hit wonders are all well and good, but best practice should show the technology embedded in teaching and learning. It’s the tool with which to teach the lesson; not the lesson itself.
Is it fit for purpose?
You will want to consider whether the technology is suitable for the age group you have in mind. For example, some higher-end robotics equipment wouldn’t last 10 minutes in Y1 but can confidently be left in the hands of older students! It’s best to try and match the tech to the purpose. Some edtech can be used across school, whereas others are quite specialist and the novelty will quite swiftly wear off.
Ask for Advice
You want to make sure that you are getting the best value and usage for your financial outlay. It’s always a good idea to do your research or get good expert advice. A rushed purchase can result in poor investment in the long run.
We want to make sure that children are provided with with new and exciting opportunities that will broaden their horizons, but ultimately the focus has to be what they are gaining from the experience. Sometimes we can try out a new app which the children will love using, but if it isn’t teaching them something or helping them learn, what is it for? This is where teaching training and planning comes in. If staff don’t have the confidence to use the technology purposefully with their class then you’re not going to see much of an impact. Make sure your purchases are supported with high-quality teacher training and support to allow you to get the best from your investment.
Don’t discount the freebies!
There are a great many quality options when it comes to free software. We always try to recommend the free options where possible. Many online tools offer excellent service and free apps are readily available.
A green screen kit, for example, can be used throughout school and across pretty much all areas of the curriculum. These can be purchased quite cheaply, or you can even just hang a green cloth or paper on the classroom. What once required specialist equipment and software can now be done with a simple app. From showcasing children’s history learning, to science presentations, script writing, adverts and persuasive writing, to interactive Christmas cards; if it’s planned into lessons properly then you’re guaranteed to get your money’s worth!
Written by Jo Marsden, Deputy Curriculum Manager, hi-impact consultancy