• Friday , 22 October 2021

What are the most future-proof school educational technology investments?

The majority of Promethean’s survey respondents say that online assessments, as well as online content and resources, are likely to see the biggest growth over the next few years.

Torkington Primary: “We recognised that the hardware upgrade was only one part of the investment. For technology to be a true enabler in the classroom, we needed to support the teaching team with quality training provision.”

It’s clear that today, more educators are relying on educational technology (edtech) to supplement teaching methods in UK classrooms.

According to Promethean’s 2018/19 State of Technology in Education report, over 50% of educators believe that technology is now integral to everyday life, so they believe it should more of a priority in education. A similar number confirm that edtech is a great way to engage their pupils, so it seems like a natural progression in schools, according to the research.

But, with so many edtech options available (and schools budgets an ongoing issue) which technologies offer the most future-proof investments?


Which tech will see the biggest growth?

Recent research conducted by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) found the demand for edtech in secondary schools is higher than in primary schools. The biggest requirements are tech training (35%), digital classroom content (39%) and online assessment (28%)

This demand was corroborated by the majority of Promethean’s survey respondents — they say that online assessments, as well as online content and resources, are likely to see the biggest growth over the next few years.

At the same time, over a quarter more respondents identified front-of-class technology as a key growth area, and 16% more respondents selected tablets this year.

Which technologies do you see making the biggest growth in the next 1 – 3 years? 2018 % Change
Front-of-class technology (interactive panels/whiteboards) 37 26
Tablets 45 16
Virtual Learning Environment 27 10
Robotics/coding 23 9
Cloud-based lesson planning and delivery tools 47 6
Modelling and simulations 18 4
Online assessments 60 2
Apps 39 -0.4
Online content and resources 54 -1.7

What do IT staff think?

IT managers are a highly knowledgeable resource in schools when it comes to edtech and IT investments. To get their perspective, Promethean’s annual State of Technology in Education survey questioned them separately on which technologies they believe would be the most future-proof for schools.

Most IT managers (70%) believe cloud-based tools will see the biggest growth in the next three years. What’s more, 42.5% of IT managers believe robotics and coding will feature highly in tomorrow’s edtech landscape, compared to just 22% of other staff.

By advising schools how to incorporate these technologies into their edtech strategy, you will ensure you’re protecting their investments and preparing pupils for tomorrow, as well as today.


How does tech already play a role?

Technology is already key when it comes to formal school assessment practices — 52% of teachers track summative assessment purely online, and over 71% track it partly online.

At the same time, there are ongoing opportunities for teaching staff to make use of tech for assessment; only 31% of teachers track formative assessment online:

“Being able to access advancements in technology will keep me up to date and relevant for pupils and allow them to see that what we are teaching applies to them. For me, relevance equals more engagement in lessons, which equals less discipline issues,”

said Senior Teacher, Local Authority Primary, North West England


Tech will never replace traditional teaching

Despite the move towards a more digital pedagogical landscape, almost 80% of our educators believe that edtech will only be combined with traditional teaching resources over the next decade, rather than replacing it.

Of the following options, which do you think is the most likely trend we will see over the next 10 years? 2017 2018
Technology-aided teaching will become the only way in which lessons are taught 28 10.9
Technology use will be routinely combined with traditional resources and teaching methods 63.8 78.9
Growth will slow and the use of technology in education will start to decline 8.1 6.8
Other 0.1 3.4

Technology is increasingly important for meeting schools’ goals like raising attainment, boosting engagement and improving schools’ profiles. But at the same time, we’re unlikely to ever see edtech taking a higher priority than quality teaching staff and tried and tested learning practices.

The future, therefore, is more likely to feature a blend of interactive front-of-class technologies like Promethean’s ActivPanels and handheld devices like tablets, used by highly skilled teaching staff in a collaborative and inclusive educational setting. Online resources, digital tools and traditional resources will be used in harmony to teach arts, sciences and future-proof skills like coding.

The majority of Promethean’s survey respondents say that online assessments, as well as online content and resources, are likely to see the biggest growth over the next few years.


Case study: Torkington Primary

One such school adopting this approach is Torkington Primary in Stockport, Cheshire. While the school had previously invested in interactive displays, the aging projector/whiteboard systems were not comparable with the touch screen technology which the children had become familiar with in their home environments.

Moreover, the school had recently invested in iPads and wanted to ensure it was continuing its vision to create a collaborative classroom environment. Connectivity became a key driver in the decision-making process to achieve this objective. A front of class display was needed that would allow teachers to connect and interact with pupil iPads and other class devices.

Seeking to redress the technological imbalance between home and school, Headteacher, Andy Buckler, initiated a whole-school upgrade to Promethean ActivPanels and underpinned this with a supporting programme of training to equip teachers with the skills and confidence to achieve maximum impact on teaching and learning.


An integrated approach

Torkington Primary introduced eight 75” ActivPanels into all of its classrooms as part of a wider ICT strategy that strived to create immersive learning experiences by integrating all of the teaching technologies available, including the class-sets of iPads. Working in partnership with Elementary Technology, a Promethean Platinum Partner, Andy appreciated the importance of providing quality training to ensure the ActivPanels were not simply used as display devices:

“We recognised that the hardware upgrade was only one part of the investment. For technology to be a true enabler in the classroom, we needed to support the teaching team with quality training provision. When we identified Promethean as the brand of choice for the technology, we also investigated the training provision available and the partner clearly demonstrated strong credentials in this area.”

Beyond initial orientation training to upskill the teachers with the fundamentals of using the ActivPanel, Andy was clear that the partnership had to provide value in the longer term: “We didn’t just want a company that could fulfil the basics of operating the ActivPanel, our vision was to forge a long term partnership where they could help us to progress over time and provide training that would facilitate this.”

For Year 5 teacher, Bethan Owen, the training and support provided by Elementary Technology has proven invaluable: “The ActivPanel is really easy to use. The tablet-like nature makes it intuitive to pick up the basics with minimal guidance but having received more in-depth training from our Promethean partner, it’s safe to say that it’s enabled me to reach a higher level of competence and confidence much more quickly.”

For Bethan, the training has also helped to consolidate the ActivPanel’s capabilities across ActivInspire and educational apps, enabling her to deliver lessons which draw on multiple features: “Accessing the Google Earth app direct from the home screen is a great starter to stimulate children’s interest in the world around us, which I used initially when getting to grips with the technology. As my experience and skills have developed, I can now do so much more. For example, I might bring in a ruler tool from ActivInspire to measure the distance between two points on the globe, which brings maths skills into play, or launch the Instant Whiteboarding app to highlight a specific area to focus interest.”
Torkington Primary’s vision for integrating its classroom technologies is also coming to fruition with iPads now seamlessly used in conjunction with both the ActivPanel and paper-based exercises: “By drawing on a range of resources available through the ActivPanel, we’re able to make learning about the social and physical environment much more engaging. When exploring ‘how things change over time’, for example, I can give groups of pupils printed photographs and ask them to find the same place as it looks today, on their iPads. Working in small groups, they can then annotate the ‘current day’ view and share back to the ActivPanel for a wider class discussion. This approach helps to encourage small group collaboration, stimulates whole class discussion and at the same time, creates a record which can be printed and saved in the children’s topic books.”

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