When it comes to ICT in education, the conversation has shifted. It’s not about providing technology and devices; it’s about teaching our kids how to use it.
In just five years, we face a digital economy that will require 2.3 million digitally skilled workers. Are our children ready to enter such a workforce?
Many would argue no. Research shows that 65% of kids will end up in jobs that don’t exist yet, but only 10% of schools offer any kind of computer science class.
There’s a massive disconnect between what’s being taught now and the skills young people will need to compete in the jobs space of the future.
The leaders in this scenario are our teachers and their use of technology in the classroom. However, with increasing demands already placed on staff and without tech training, it is unreasonable to expect them to adopt new technologies and be our digital heroes as well, without adequate support.
From traditional to tech savvy
A recent Childwise report indicated that 6.3 million children aged 5-16 in the UK use a laptop, PC or tablet and on average, spend 1.5 hours online per day.
We are dealing with a generation of digital natives.
To cater for this, schools are increasingly introducing new tech like interactive whiteboards, film projectors and tablets.
But just introducing new devices into a still traditional four-walled teaching environment isn’t effective enough. Imagine dropping a teacher from the Victorian era into a 2017 classroom. Yes, they might need a few minutes to learn how to use a desktop computer or a whiteboard, but I guarantee you the essence of the teaching methods will be similar – students still have to conform.
We need to prepare our kids to meet the demands of a digital nation. This means cloud-based learning where kids can log-in from anywhere, anytime to access their work, or provide access to multiple teachers to ensure a ‘best-fit’ teaching style for each student.
Also, technology can benefit the teacher too. The days of marking with a red pen are numbered. Using programmes like Office 365 are guaranteed to help a teacher reduce time spent on menial tasks and allows more time for creating an environment prime for student engagement. Students could go home and complete work in their own time, freeing up the hours in the day for teachers to focus on face-to-face, interactive teaching.
Support the supporters
The silver bullet to this transformational change? Our teachers. Yet worryingly, a NASUWT Teachers’ Union report found that 83% of teachers who teach ICT as a subject, said that they do not receive regular ICT-related training and CPD. But, the report also concluded that teachers made specific references to the need to develop these skills that pupils need for the real world – highlighting their dedication to the cause.
There is no arguing that embedding a new technology into a school is always going to be challenging. But, by providing pre-implementation training and support for teachers, you can guarantee the new equipment is utilised to its full potential and will empower staff with the knowledge and confidence to use it.
In turn, if teachers can gain a thorough understanding of the technology and how to use it effectively, this can be used to prepare the UK’s younger generations for the guaranteed digital workplace they will find themselves in.
Not only that, but the combination of great technology and great teaching will help broaden their horizons for a future career.