Whilst the technology for virtual reality has been around since the 1950s, it is only in recent years that it has moved from the realms of the gamer to a mainstream audience and is now knocking at the classroom door. And it’s not just adventurous startups that are exploring the world of VR. Corporate giants can see the value of the technology and are investing heavily in the educational arena. More than a million students (including many at Putney High School) have taken virtual adventures with Google’s VR Pioneer Expeditions programme.
At the latest British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) and Publishers Association Conference, Nick Gibb MP highlighted the importance of high-quality curriculum resources, citing results from the annual PISA reports, which showed that high-performing countries including Singapore and Finland, make far more use of textbooks in the classroom. The UK, on the other hand, has a thriving edtech market. So how can teachers utilise the combined power of the textbook and technology to create effective learning opportunities for students?
Implementation of digital content seems to be widely misunderstood. You can’t just drop in a sophisticated digital programme without a really good implementation program. Like with everything in education, it comes down to the person. If teachers are ill-equipped to use new programs, they will fall back on traditional teaching methods.
What will our classrooms look like in 2017? It really depends on whose crystal ball you look at! School budgets are being squeezed tighter than a jar of peanut butter at a squirrel convention. As a result, teachers are looking for free tools and apps to enhance their schemes of work and create resources using video and animation to help engage students, particularly reluctant learners. Leadership teams are now examining the prospect of creating a sustainable ICT solution that suits our new digital learners and will still be relevant in the future.
While Saturday was the shortest day of BETT 2017, there were still plenty of edtech for attendees to see. Many of you came to our stand to discuss your work or to film Innovation Bursts, which was a tremendous honour for us. We’re always looking to work with educators from all areas of the sector, so to have classroom teachers, school leaders, consultants, suppliers and trainee teachers get involved was great for both feedback and future content! There was even a moment when the stand was invaded by a number of the Primary Rocks team!
Gratnells, leaders in classroom storage for over 40 years, has introduced an innovative new product range to meet the challenges faced by schools and colleges in the increasing use of digital devices by teachers and pupils alike.
The way we’re teaching in the classroom is changing, and it’s time to review the way we communicate and engage with the whole school community. Following the removal of national curriculum levels, schools have been given a measure of freedom as to how they teach the curriculum. Some may think this is an improvement – but it begs the question - does that make it more difficult for parents to understand how to read the performance of their child?
Martin McKay is the chief technology officer and one of the founders of Texthelp Inc. He directs all R&D at Texthelp with a focus on developing new technologies to assist people who struggle with reading and writing. Martin serves as a Universal Design for Learning council member. During this year’s Bett Show, you can find Texthelp at Stand C141.
No teachers like being observed when they are teaching; when it comes to schools positioning cameras in classrooms for lesson observations, teachers naturally feel in the spotlight and under pressure. Assessing children is one thing, but while all teachers want professional development, no one is comfortable being reviewed and assessed themselves.