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Tech for the next year – what changed in 2020?

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As part of our State of Technology in Education survey, we ask how important technology truly is in education. In 2019, educators (and especially IT managers) strongly believed it helped them to do their jobs better, engaged students and improved behaviour. Schools agreed they could use tech in even more areas, provided it’s relevant—something which nearly 100% of respondents insisted upon.

Fast forward to 2020, and the education landscape has been disrupted more than anyone could have imagined.

Many schools closed their doors in March, others remained open with a skeleton set of staff and far fewer pupils. The reliance on remote technology to run the basics of UK-wide learning — delivering lessons, setting and submitting homework and marking — has been remarkable. 

Now, as pupils return to school has the sentiment towards technology changed this year, too?

Have opinions changed this year?

Our survey has shown that attitudes towards technology have shifted this year, but perhaps not in the way you may think. 

Just because many educators have become incredibly tech-reliant to keep in touch with their pupils this year, they aren’t suddenly heavyweight tech-adopters. They certainly aren’t attempting to shoe-horn the latest tools, gadgets and tech-trends into learning. 

Rather, educators have a renewed pragmatism towards technology. They appreciate what works. They recognise what doesn’t.

Which technologies have supported learning in the last 12 months?

Last year, the use of interactive panels and tablets continued to increase, together with apps—all of which saw their highest use rates yet. This was along with laptops, cloud-based lesson delivery and screen mirroring.

This year, perhaps unsurprisingly, remote teaching software, distance learning and video conferencing solutions have come into their own, supporting the many teachers and pupils working and learning remotely. 

At the same time, there’s been a significant uptick in use of hardware like laptops, visualisers and interactive flat panel displays. Emerging technologies like VR, 3D printers and coding tools such as Micro:bits and Raspberry Pi, however, are waning in popularity.

How will tech support the return to school?

Students and teachers are soon to return to classrooms. Still, it seems learnings have been made from the reliance on technology this year: educators expect tools like online assessment, virtual learning and cloud-based learning to see the biggest growth over the next few years. 

This points towards a more holistic approach to learning in the future — perhaps combining traditional class-based learning with the flexibility of cloud-based homework submission and online assessment.

Yet the potential of interactive classroom learning tools, like front-of-class technologies and tablets, has been greatly recognised this year, too. In fact, the number of educators that expect to see substantial growth in front-of-class technology has increased threefold since 2017. 

So, ensuring the classroom remains the nucleus of the learning experience, while facilitating blended learning, will create the flexibility educators need to respond to the uncertainty of the coming months. 

The full survey results, our key findings, and trends over the past five years have been published in our latest report: The State of Technology in Education 2020/21

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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