Howard Jackson is the former Head of Education & Founder of HCSS Education.
Having worked in the education sector for over 35 years, I have seen first-hand the effect that new technology has had in transforming the way in which schools operate – on both a practical and cultural level.
There are now technologies available which can help with almost every single function within an education establishment, from assisting with administrative tasks to managing finances. In addition to the more practical applications, excitingly over the past few years I have witnessed a steep rise in the amount of schools and universities adopting brand new digital learning technology in the classroom – in 2014 schools spent £596 million on ICT and this budget was expected to have risen further to £623 million last year. This is something that should be encouraged, as it is my belief that incorporating learning technology into the curriculum can allow for more engaging ways of teaching and more innovative ways for teachers to instil knowledge to their pupils.
This demand for new and improved technology within the education sector can be seen in the sudden rise of software developers specialising in education technology (Ed-tech). A report from TechCity found that 4% of all technology businesses nationwide now focus primarily on developing technology to help aid learning throughout schools and universities. This number is predicted to rise as the benefits of learning technology are felt by more and more schools.
So why is Ed-tech proving so popular?
One of the key reasons that Ed-tech has proven so popular may be because it has the ability to completely transform the way in which people learn – it offers alternative platforms to study on and differing ways to gather information. It can help to reshape the very way in which education establishments are structured by offering an alternative to the traditional classroom, as students now have the opportunity to work remotely and at a time that suits them.
Below I explore some of the popular Ed-tech software that is being utilised across the country to help transform the entire learning process.
Aiding collaborative projects
In the modern classroom, whiteboards and physical text books are becoming old fashioned. These old classroom resources are now being enhanced with online platforms, such as cloud computing and mobile learning devices. This technology is helping students to collaborate more easily with others as it no longer requires everyone to meet up in person to work on a group project.
Cloud computing is also changing the way in which we store information. Students working on collaborative projects can easily save large amounts of information to a shared area and this can then be accessed remotely by anyone who needs it. Furthermore, mobile learning devices are also helping to aid collaborative projects, as students are now no longer confined to classrooms and libraries to complete their work.
Introduction of MOOCs
The education sector is placing more and more emphasis on MOOCs (massive open online courses), which are free online resources that allow for unlimited participation, as students can learn wherever they want via the internet.
As well as providing more traditional teaching material such as filmed lectures and readings, the courses give students access to interactive forums where they can communicate in real-time with teachers. The courses promote flexibility and mobile working, and can be a cost-effective alternative to the steep tuition fees of universities and other training providers.
These are exciting times for both students currently in education and for teachers working within the sector, as Ed-tech helps to reshape the education system by offering students alternative methods of acquiring knowledge and encouraging independent learning. In turn, the technology is also empowering teachers, by providing easy-to-use platforms to monitor and assess students’ progress.
I strongly believe that all schools should embrace the new technology, as it can help to dramatically increase accessibility, engagement and interactivity and therefore results.