The argument for digital technologies’ encouraging impact on learning has been in question by many. But the need to establish the value of technology to education remains important. But what impact is digital technology having on our children in education and is this possibly the way forward for learning and teaching?

Technology is becoming more present in today’s classroom, is this having a positive impact?. Photography: Shuttershock

Education and learning is developing and changing everyday, with the use of technology and practise of digital learning being recognised more frequently. With it traditionally being centred on sources such as schools, teachers and print media, developments in digital technology have opened up many opportunities of learning. It is important to notice that education and learning has advanced massively since traditional times.

In todays digital world, knowing how to read, write and participate online is an initial skill next to reading writing and mathematics. These opportunities are arguably seen as positive chances for children to develop in their learning and is a diverse way to learn new skills and abilities. With ICT being present in primary and secondary school learning for decades now, we continue to see it grow and grow making it a core skill to be learnt.

How digital technology is used in the classroom
Swapping books for iPads: How digital technology is used in the classroom. Photography: Getty Images

With technology being such an integral part of our lives now, it is inevitable for it to be introduced in the classroom. Just looking at the most recent global situation involving coronavirus, that alone has demonstrated how vital technology is for various different reasons. Not only has it supported the control of it but it has been used a support system for family and friends to stay connected. Which poses the question of why not use digital learning when it plays such a fundamental role in our lives.

“Schools in the UK have started the move to using iPads in the classroom, with an estimate of 500 schools using the iPad device”

Schools in the UK have started the move to using iPads in the classroom, with an estimate of 500 schools using the iPad device. They are being incorporated into lesson plans and learning more often, with teachers changing their teaching techniques to a more digital format. The value of technology within the UK system has been increasingly recognised. BESA’s annual ‘ICT in UK State Schools’ found that in 2016, pupils are open to IT for 53% of teaching time — up from 50% in 2014.

Here are some different ways teachers are using technology in their classroom and lessons:
– Standard apps (camera, Google Earth, Google Maps, Geocaching) that permit students to explore their learning and research outside of the classroom.
– Tablets/iPads – using handheld devices as digital textbooks can support students to have better interaction with the material through mixed media.
– Smartboards – Interactive smart boards and connected display boards can take the place of whiteboards in most classroom environments.  These can be used in most classroom environments to display, demonstrate and present learning.
– Flipped learning, where teachers use the technology to substitute traditional classroom education. YouTube videos or apps that provide an explanation or deliver learning specific to the subject.  These are accessed by students anywhere and anytime.

With this being said, budgets for school technology are falling. According to BESA ICT report: secondary schools budget for technology drops by £17million. The average ICT budget for 2017-2018 was forecast to be £13,800 for primary school, a 4% decline year on year, and £58,230 for secondaries, a 7% fall, according to the British Education Suppliers Association.

With this budget falling year on year, how are schools going to prioritise what technology is essential for their classroom learning?

Inside Steve Jobs Schools: swapping books for iPads

Two new Steve Jobs schools open in South Africa.

With this significant move towards a digital classroom, and seeing more and more pupils being exposed to technology in schools it is interesting to look towards Steve Jobs Schools. These schools have made a significant move towards using technology in schools, they are being known for using primarily technology to teach. There are no seating plans in the classroom and 45% of the lessons take place on an iPad which every individual receives when they join the school. As well as this, there are no notebooks, blackboards or official lesson plans: children just drop into 30 minute workshops on numerous different topics.

These schools are situated in the Netherlands, as well as two new schools recently being open in South Africa. They continue the same standard assessment and examination process as other dutch schools, despite having a learning process dominantly through technology. Governments are interested to see the results from this, however they believe it is too early to say whether it is an efficient way of providing learning. With this possibly being a success, will we see this development and change in our schools in England?

“According to Apple, more than 10m iPads have been bought by educational institutions worldwide”

While these schools offer an exclusive method, the use of iPads in classrooms is not new. According to Apple, more than 10m iPads have been bought by educational institutions worldwide. With the positive and popular use of interactive whiteboards it is inevitable for iPads and tablets to soon be incorporated into all learning environments, as well as other forms of technology. Having this advancement in schools definitely provides a change in structure and method of teaching, suiting and benefitting teachers as well as children. Will we start to see a decline in traditional ways of teaching as we move towards a more digital classroom?

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