The use of technology in education is always an interesting topic. Whilst those providing the technology will always extol its benefits, its those at the sharp end that can provide valuable insight into how it’s used and perceived. Promethean’s State of Technology in Education 2018/19 report₁ reveals how school leaders, teachers and ICT managers view Edtech in schools. In an amazingly comprehensive report surveying over 1,800 educators across the UK and Ireland from a range of different types of primary/secondary schools, it throws up some insight into topics that are consistently debated about the use of technology, its deployment and the training provided for teachers.
Of course, educators across the board want more budget for Edtech. Whilst technology is becoming a more widely accepted part of the educational landscape, over 40% of survey respondents believed there is too little; up 7.5% from the year before. Almost all educators (94%) recognised that Edtech can improve engagement levels and almost three quarters (72%) believed that technology can improve behaviour in schools. Worryingly, the survey suggests that only a small fraction of teachers -under 5% – believe they receive full training on the school’s technologies, whilst just over 35% believe their training is adequate. This is in decline from the 2016 survey where 30% of teachers confirmed they received full training and 55% received adequate training. The report highlighted that most teachers choose to use tech in their teaching but of those who don’t the majority (27%) blame faulty equipment, as well as a lack of time to learn how to fully use it (23%). User error springs to mind.
The focus on training has been on pupil safety and new learning techniques rather than the equipment. With teachers concerned about workload, training on technology that can save time and effort should perhaps be more of a priority. However, the survey did seem to indicate that teachers feel increasingly confident about their tech knowledge. Almost 20% believe they know a lot more about education technologies than their students, up from 10% in 2016. Indeed, with more millennials entering the workplace that have been brought up with technology, this trend is likely to continue.
Surprisingly with all the hype around GDPR, and its specific implications for educational establishments that collect a great deal of personal data, the survey reported that almost a third (28%) were unclear about what GDPR is and almost half (44.6%) were unsure whether it would have a positive or negative impact on education.
There is some great information on what technology is being used for in the report. Front-of-class technology is set for major growth. Over a quarter more respondents selected front-of-class technology – from 11% in 2017 to 37% in 2018 – as a key growth area in the next 1-3 years. A rise in the use of handheld devices (14%), interactive panels (6%) and tablets in schools was recorded along with an 8 percent decline in the use of teaching with desktop computers. According to educators, the technologies poised for growth over the next three years are online assessment, content and resources, as well as tablets, apps and interactive panels and whiteboards.
As the report states, technology does not replace teaching excellence, it can only enhance it with the majority of educators (79%) believing that Edtech will most likely be blended with traditional teaching resources over the next decade, rather than replacing it.
For the channel, education remains a key sector both in providing the right technology and ensuring that it is used to its full extent by providing adequate training.