Schools are back, staff have refocused, and strategic goals are back on the agenda. Perhaps unsurprisingly, attainment and results are still the number one priorities. That’s according to our newly published State of Technology in Education report.
At the same time, Covid has changed the perception of what’s important, from an IT perspective. Over 83% of educators have now identified technology as a great way to improve engagement. Yet keeping pupils motivated, despite the huge reliance on tech, was the number one challenge for educators during lockdown. This confirms that using tech in isolation does not always enhance learning, and that the classroom is absolutely the nucleus of learning.
Why did engagement drop off in lockdown?
Our survey, completed by over 2,000 educators from across the UK and Ireland, shows that student motivation was a key challenge in the first half of 2020, cited by almost 7/10 educators.
Indeed, digital learning platform Firefly released figures showing the impact of lockdown learning, highlighting a 30% drop in engagement throughout the second half of term in something the platform has called ‘lockdown learning fatigue’.
Not only were pupils less engaged, but parents were, too. It was hard, without a teacher present, to keep pupils focused and on track, no matter the tools they were using to learn.
So, the reason engagement dropped? Fundamentally, pupils were lacking the key classroom hours with their skilled teachers to guide them on their learning journeys.
What is on the tech roadmap for 2020?
It’s clear that tech has to be combined with traditional learning, delivered by a skilled teacher, to boost engagement, motivation and results.
According to BESA, it is projected there will be more spending on computers in 2020/21 — 15% more on average. What’s more, academies are more likely to incorporate technology into their wider strategy than local authority schools, according to our State of Technology in Education Report research.
Much of the new investment, according to the figures, is being made in assessment solutions and pupil devices. Our research also shows that using tech for engagement is now a strategic priority for almost 40% of schools, up 29% since 2016. But choosing the right tools, that support schools’ goals, is absolutely key.
While school staff have differing opinions on the most valuable technologies, one fact remains: education technology has to be used appropriately for each learning situation. IT staff, for example, use interactive front of class displays most frequently of all school members: 88% use one all the time compared to 57% of teachers.
Is front-of-class tech the future?
Covid may have fast-tracked many schools’ tech roadmaps, but the chosen tools and technologies are not shiny gimmicks or overly futuristic (but non-pedagogical) solutions.
As Stephen Holden, Executive Headteacher at Tottington Primary School explains, tech is there to aid and support learning, not for the school to be seen as ‘tech savvy’. In his school, front-of-class technology is used around the room to ensure all pupils can see and hear effectively. See what else he has to say about what he refers to as ‘unchained teaching’:
Overall confidence in interactive front-of-class tech has tripled in 5 years. This shows that upgradable technologies like the ActivPanel, proven to support learning outcomes, are growing in popularity. Indeed, almost half of IT managers expect front-of-class tech to grow in coming years.
Take a look at the full report for more insights from 2020/21 in our newly released State of Technology in Education report 2020/21.
The State of Technology in Education Report 2020/21
See what over 2,000 educators said about strategy and tech use this year and over the last 5 in our widest-reaching report to date.View the report