Technology such as games, apps, and augmented and virtual reality, can help pupils to understand complex subjects and theories; inspiring creativity, and critical thinking, while allowing teachers to connect with students on a deeper level. But more than this, technology-enabled lessons can also be used to tackle inequality in education; and as such, the potential social impact of edtech cannot be underestimated.
Here are just some of the ways technology can be used to support and engage disadvantaged pupils:
Technology can help identify failing students
Smaller classes can be particularly beneficial when it comes to disadvantaged and lower-attaining pupils. The smaller the class size, the easier it is for teachers to quickly identify and address the needs of struggling students. Where teachers don’t have the luxury of a small class, instant-assessment technology can help.
Allowing teachers to evaluate pupil comprehension at the moment of learning, by immediately identifying and addressing any gaps in knowledge, educators can then tailor their lessons to the real needs of each and every pupil; and avoid more serious challenges later on.
Technology can help meet the needs of struggling students
Edtech can be used to facilitate learning by setting different questions for different pupils, depending on their ability or learning style. If students attempt tasks that are too difficult, they are likely to get frustrated and fail. But, by assessing pupils in a manner appropriate to them – and allowing pupils to work at different paces – technology allows the needs of students with various backgrounds to be addressed in one classroom; so they are less liable to become disengaged, and more likely to succeed.
Technology provides universal access to the latest resources
Textbooks are expensive, and diminishing school budgets mean that some schools are forced into using out-of-date books in their classrooms; widening the gap between the “Haves” and “Have Nots”. Cloud-based technology helps to bridge the gap between the poorest and most wealthy schools, providing universal access to the very latest, freely-available online resources.
However, with faulty networks and out of date equipment two of the main reasons for insufficient technology in schools (The State of Technology in Education Report), investment is urgently needed to ensure that modern schools have the IT infrastructure necessary to help all pupils succeed.
Technology can help identify the emotional needs of pupils
Emotion has an enormous impact on the overall learning experience; particularly for those pupils with additional support needs. Technology (such as Subtle Stone) is being used by some teachers to consider the emotional effect of their learning activities, assessments, and teaching methods; letting students communicate their emotional state directly to their teacher.
Technology can be used to support pupils with language difficulties
There are more than a million children in UK schools, and these pupils speak in excess of 360 languages between them. For students who don’t have English as their first language, or who struggle with reading, writing, and spelling, literacy support software such as translation tools, picture dictionaries, and text-to-speech tech can help to provide a level playing field.
Today, working class pupils are among the lowest performers when it comes to academic achievement, with children from the lowest-income homes half as likely to get five good GCSEs and go on to higher education. However, technology has the potential to be a great equaliser, with the right tools helping to close the educational divide and making classrooms a genuinely inclusive place for all.