Dynamic Duo

The Dynamic Duo – Shaping the Classrooms of the Future

Batman and Robin, Bonnie and Clyde, Abbot and Costello, The two Ronnie’s, Cannon and Ball and  (sometimes) Ant and Dec – the world has been treated to so many fantastic double acts that it is hard to ever imagine one without the other.

So it is our absolute pleasure to unveil our own Dynamic Duo in the world of classroom technology innovation; ladies and gentleman, I give you Paul and Tom.

Paul Hutton is a highly experienced teacher and engaging presenter across all ages and phases as an Apple Education expert, whilst Tom Able-Green is an Education Solutions Manager across all sectors of the industry.  Together, they sat down with Brad Chuck to discuss their visions of the classroom of the future.

Making Technology Personal

“Technology is simply a tool to get something done in the best way possible.” Says Paul, whilst pointing out the work that Academia undertakes in revolutionising UK schools, “Technology is part of the solution”

Paul describes a less than ideal situation of “an overly prescriptive curriculum delivered by an exhausted teacher to unmotivated learners in a room that is a faraday cage when it comes to technology in a school with a poorly articulated vision for learning and improvement”

So how do we avoid this scenario? According to Paul, citing that “teachers will readily learn new skills when they see direct relevance and potential enhancement to their own practice”. The issue is that most precious of commodities, time: “The time to acquire relevant skills, potentially jointly plan and deliver [lessons] alongside a specialist and the freedom to identify and share iterative opportunities [between each other.

Schools need to isolate the technologies that best suit them and have a positive impact on wellbeing as well as pupil attainment and progress. This can range from “sharing documents securely online; collaborating on long and medium term planning in the cloud; differentiating and reflecting on short term planning; using technologies to capture and share pupil progress; encourage peer review; using powerful tools that develop dialogue within and beyond school including informing parents.” All of this can reduce the workload of teachers as well as achieving the stated priorities.

Essa Academy

As an example of using the right technological tools, Paul highlights the case of Essa Academy in Bolton. Here, prudent investment in technology has led to “a significant reduction in cost through eliminating unnecessary copying of paper resources and at the same time [seen] a drive in pupil engagement.” This is largely down to the innate mutability of digital resources; “teachers can create or adapt digital resources which can be differentiated far more easily to ensure all pupils are successful in meeting learning outcomes. Cloud based services are indispensable in assisting teachers to save and collaborate within and beyond school in a safe, secure way- and plan powerful focused workflows for the classroom.” All this leads to better outcomes for the school and for pupils.

Even as technology is successfully implemented, new developments appear on the market. Paul identified augmented reality and mobile technology as potential new areas that could help forward-thinking schools. Mobile technology especially is personal to Paul, who has a daughter diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay. “Mobile technology has given her a voice, a way of her experimenting with the world, developed her self-esteem, a way of developing language and understanding of simple concepts and has given us a gateway into her world through the accessibility features built into her device. Without technology we would simply know her far less well and not know about the incredible things going on in her head that she cannot fully articulate or express.” When implemented correctly, technology as a tool has the capacity to empower those who would be left voiceless and open up the world of education to all.

As a self-confessed believer in “high quality learning for all pupils and transformational use of technologies”, Paul strongly feels that EdTech is invigorating the sector. And while it may not be the panacea that some claim, he leaves us with the sentiment that it is undoubtedly the case that in education “technology is part of the solution.”

Making the future possible with EdTech

Education Technology, or EdTech for those aware of its game-changing properties, is at the forefront of new teaching techniques and reducing teacher workload.

As time goes marching on, teachers all over the country are experiencing a larger workload with less support. But according to Tom, while we cannot stop the clock to give teachers more time to assess their pupils, with EdTech there is the chance to at least make the most of the time they do have. By utilising “workflows with instant feedback, we can allow teachers to save time.” EdTech can provide the vital role in “knowing how… [to save time]… it is a huge part of the puzzle.” Teachers can fulfil their maximum potential with “fantastic projects across all platforms,” so no matter the subject area of the teacher or the environment in which they work, there is EdTech out there that can help them to significantly streamline their resources if correctly utilised.

In that vein, Tom raises the somewhat radical idea that teachers no longer need to be at the front of the classroom, so much has EdTech disrupted the traditional pedagogical environment. Vision is needed to lay the foundation for the future; classroom design will be an integral part moving forward as technology is implemented in schools. Or as Tom puts it, “do we really need desks in the way we have always seen them?”

This may sound far-fetched, but with “60% of children likely to do a job that [doesn’t yet] exist because of technology,” it is only through constant investment and innovation that education stands a chance of future-proofing the next generation. Essentially, EdTech can provide children with a “much more personalised learning journey.” This is crucial when they will need to develop skills and techniques that are “paramount to adapting to the ‘digital world of today’.” It’s not just about digitising everything or uploading it to a cloud, but as with all education, putting the student first.

Implementing Change

So with such urgency needed, what is stopping schools from implementing these changes? While there are many barriers that are different for all schools, for Tom, “fear is probably the biggest blocker. [Technology] is no longer a ‘consideration’, it is a ‘must’.” Schools must face up to the challenge that a situation constantly in flux and embrace the opportunity that hides within. “As a parent of two children in education today and a parent governor, I am seeing the changes in our education from a first-hand perspective.” The positive impact that technology can have on learning outcomes makes it vital that this fear is overcome.

Tom reminds us to think big, and with that in mind, “it’s not about what technology can do for us, it is what we do with it” that counts.

You can catch our Dynamic Duo on stage at the Academies Show 2018 – find out how to see them here: http://academia.co.uk/academiesshownews/

For more information about Academia and how we help with Technology solutions in the Education industry, please contact our Press team on pr@academia.co.uk




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