So BETT 2015 is over but did you find the ‘killer app’ that was going to transform an aspect of your school? The ‘magic bullet’ that was going to succeed where others had failed!
You may have had endless discussions with salesmen all with a belief in their product but maybe you were not convinced. Perhaps in your ‘heart-of-hearts’ there was a realisation that you might have been looking for something that just does not exist but the search continues.
The BETT Show is fantastic – it delivers what it says on the tin and ensures that some of the latest technology that can be used in education is at everyone’s finger-tips. It’s expensive and exciting with much to see but unless you go with a clear idea of what you’re looking for it can be a bit like the cookies in a cookie jar – all inviting, sugary and perfect.
Let’s get some perspective!
Technology is a tool. On its own it will not solve a problem, it will contribute to a solution but it will not solve a problem.
Parental engagement is a clear example. The biggest issue in schools and academies in the UK is how to engage parents in their child’s learning and if you think it’s not such a big issue then, respectfully, you’re missing a trick.
Every school and academy wants to help their children achieve the best that they can, they want their students to progress along the learning path. Parents want to help their children achieve the best that they can as well, there is a synergy between the two so why are they not working together to achieve the same outcome for their children?
For example, research suggests that 75% of parents believe homework is important and want to support their children but at best only 32% actually do that – why? Is it lack of time, lack of knowledge and/or the inability to understand the context in which they can support their children?
Imagine a parent who logs onto their portal, sees information about their child such as attainment, targets and progress, all historical information by the way and potentially irrelevant to a child’s current learning, but more importantly they have immediate access to their child’s homework. That’s nothing new of course but a small change in practice might just make all the difference to a parent helping their child.
While teachers prepare content and create the homework they could add supporting information for the parent perhaps explaining the context and purpose of the homework, maybe the answer to the problem set or maybe some information about the subject matter.
I suppose it’s possible that this might be viewed as additional work but maybe as a teacher you’re preparing information for your teaching assistants anyway which could be used by parents. Imagine a teaching assistant for every child working at home! What impact would that have on a child’s learning?
Which brings us back to ‘Technology doesn’t solve problems, it enables solutions’.
The problem is how to engage parents in their child’s learning. Technology can deliver content but the solution lies in the evolution of practice that uses that technology. The creation of content and information for parents is as important as the technology that delivers it – the two together create the solution. One doesn’t really work without the other but the power of the the two together is amazing!