14 Nov 2020
By Mark Richards
Concerns have been raised that there are significant gaps in both initial teaching training and the early career framework for training for teachers in digital teaching and learning. A similar criticism has been made of the various professional qualifications that can be studied for within the education sector.
The worry is that this means that teachers are not equipped with vital skills and are therefore missing out on the many advantages that education technology can bring to teaching and learning.
In fairness, there is evidence that some ITT providers are beginning to embed digital and remote learning into their course programmes. This is clearly a step forward but more still needs to be done.
A national framework of support is needed
Overall, a national framework of support for new and experienced teachers is required. Many people are calling for a new government department to be set up which has clear ministerial responsibility. It is argued that part of the current problem is that EdTech policy is fragmented across the remit of several government departments. A new department, focusing on EdTech and digital skills is a logical next step.
However, the Department for Education doesn’t appear to share this view. It claims that its own EdTech strategy is successful in enabling schools and colleges to continue to develop and embed technology. and is constantly working to help the education sector fully explore the potential that EdTech offers. The DfE cites a commitment of more than £1million of additional funding that has been given to the EdTech Demonstrator Programme.
Why do we need EdTech in schools?
It’s clear that technology presents a number of opportunities for education. The modern day and future classroom can be a place where engaging and effective teaching and learning tools are used. Not only that, EdTech can simplify things for teachers and with further automation, the teacher can spend more time focusing on student progress.
EdTech could mark a real change in the way that we do education in this country. For example, the notion of a ‘flipped classroom’ – where the students are introduced to new content at home and spend the time in school (rather than at home) practising applying these new skills and concepts in the classroom. This enables the teacher to focus on resolving issues and helping students to progress, rather than on delivering content. Observers have noted that flipped classrooms can really aid students to acquire knowledge and improve understanding and application of skills.
There is a world of possibilities that technology offers to the education sector. However, teachers working within the sector need to be fully trained in all aspects of digital learning. Of course, we need to consider that the way we structure schools and education: classrooms with rows of desks with a teacher at the front of the room is a concept that is decades old – and has changed little in that time.
If educators fully explore digital capabilities and incorporate these into teaching and learning, it gives students new opportunities to achieve. The other thing that is vital to remember is that technology will play a massive role in the workplace of the future and we need to be preparing young people for the future in today’s school.
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