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Does technology help raise educational attainment?

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Improving attendance and results was identified as the top priority for schools in The State of Technology in Education Report 2018/19 report. Both in terms of better grades and closing the gap between those across the socio-economic spectrum. And, when it comes to making improvements in these areas, technology can help educators to make some quick and long-term wins.

Caters for all types of learners

Providing equally strong learning experiences for all pupils is a difficult task, especially in classes where abilities vary greatly. But finding a way to do this is vital for teachers who want to boost attainment.

The VARK model outlines four key preferences: visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinaesthetic. Although it’s important to clarify that VARK is not a rigid measurement, with many pupils responding to more than just one format of learning.

Classroom technology makes it possible to vary formats and resources to meet all the different ways pupils learn.

For example, to cater for reading/writing learners, educators could spell out words and translations on the Promethean ActivPanel, while playing audio resources to support auditory learners. Alternatively, because kinaesthetic learners prefer simulated experiences, videos can be used to appeal to their senses, with corresponding diagrams, mind maps, charts and graphs helping visual learners.

Moving beyond the VARK model, find out more about how technology can be used to engage and support all types of learners. From the underachieving to the highly gifted, the introverted to the extroverted.

Helps to engage and include SEN pupils

Raising attainment isn’t just about catering for different learning styles. It’s also about ensuring that pupils with all levels of abilities and disabilities have their needs met. To do this, an inclusive digital technology (IDT) strategy is necessary.

IDT applies specifically within the educational context. It describes the whole range of assistive technologies and resources used to support SEN/ASN pupils.

IDT helps learners to overcome the educational barriers they face, while encouraging independence and boosting confidence. Crucially, by ensuring that all pupils are catered for, IDT is essential to achieving results with mixed-ability classes.

Real-time assessment boosts student progress

According to the research by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), using real-time assessment processes to identify pupils strengths and weaknesses — and adapting teaching methods to this knowledge — has shown to boost student progress.

Real-time assessment technology (e.g. class polls, end of lesson surveys and anonymous quizzes) are incredibly effective in raising student attainment and increasing positive student outcomes.

Reduces the attainment gap

Exam results between pupils from different social backgrounds are one of the critical challenges facing the education system in the UK. And, according to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility, the attainment gap in schools could widen without direct action. In response, there have been increased calls for interventions to address inequalities and the provision of money to schools and colleges to support disadvantaged pupils.

One way the government intends to tackle this issue is by encouraging schools across the UK to “take advantage of all of the opportunities available through Edtech.” And, using technology to reduce the attainment gap could prove fruitful. Indeed, one report found that giving both affluent and low-income students the same access to technology can aid achievement, boost engagement and improve readiness to learn. What’s more, it can improve communication skills, the ability to self-manage and increase collaboration with peers.

Technology has to be used correctly

According to one study, there is “conclusive evidence that digital technologies can support educational attainment”.

But, the key to using technology to reduce the attainment gap and improve results is doing so correctly. Tech for tech’s sake helps nobody – not pupils or teachers – and it’s not about taking what is done offline and replicating it online. Instead, rather than just digitising learning, educators must understand how technology can be used to enhance learning experiences.

What’s more, as well as making sure teachers understand how technology can support educational goals, it’s just as important that schools invest in the right technologies. As well as knowing which pieces of hardware and software to invest in – this means making smart purchasing decisions that maximise school budgets. There are plenty of free learning resources out there, but to ensure they deliver, schools need becoming an IT championhigh-performing hardware to enable successful digital learning experiences that get results.