Technology in Schools: Factors that influence adoption and impact on learning

In response to the commentary in the seminar notice being organised by Guardian Teacher Network: Technology in schools: money saver or money waster? on 15th June in the UK, these are some of my reflections on the factors that can support the effective use of digital technologies in learning and teaching in schools. Examples of such technologies include Power Point presentations, videos from YouTube, or apps on iPads, to smartphone-based virtual reality applications. 

The effectiveness of any technology in teaching and learning depends on a number of factors:

  • how does the technology add to the traditional approach of teaching the same concept or process or lesson;
  • whether and how the technology is aligned with the learning goals of teaching and learning?
  • if there is more than one technology being employed in a lesson or learning activity – say, a set of YouTube videos with a Virtual Reality smartphone-driven App such as Google Expeditions, how does the content and the delivery of each of these technologies complement one other?
  • training the educator has received to use the technology and to integrate it within teaching and learning

An educator has to consider the following to be able to choose and use a technology effectively:

  • a clear understanding of the learning objectives and what students are expected to learn from a lesson/activity in which the use of technology is being planned
  • training to adopt the technology in her teaching
  • an understanding of her students’ skill-set – do students know how to learn with the technology?; which digital practices do her students bring to their learning in school?
  • to link the use of technology in her lessons with what the students are learning in other subjects – so as to give a broader context of her lesson and the use of technology.
  • to explain the role of the technology to her students so that they know what to expect and what is expected from them.
  • New technology does not automatically lead to increased attainment. What expectations does she have from the technology?
  • does she have help from ‘digital leaders’?

Teachers need support and time to learn to use new technology effectively. This involves more than just learning how to use the technology; it should include support to understand how it can be used for learning. Schools rarely budget for training and continuing professional development even though these are often essential in ensuring the technology is properly used, and that the use is improved and sustained over a period of time.

Using technologies to support learning in school curriculum – such as, use of a blog for improving literacy skills and for reflective learning, technologies can help impart digital literacy skills to students and give them transferable skills for their future education and employment. Students learn how to interact safely in online worlds, how to manage their digital identity, and to evaluate and make sense of information in online environments.    

Resources

Survey Finds Majority of Teachers Do Not Feel Prepared to Use Technology in Classrooms, https://news.samsung.com/us/survey-finds-majority-of-teachers-do-not-feel-prepared-to-use-technology-in-classrooms/

Five questions to ensure effective technology CPD in schools, http://tdtrust.org/five-questions-to-ensure-effective-technology-cpd-in-schools

Is digital technology changing learning and teaching? The big debate from Digifest 2017, https://www.jisc.ac.uk/news/is-digital-technology-changing-learning-and-teaching-15-mar-2017