The Future of Education? Education Secretary Calls for Technology Revolution
BY GILL ROWBOTHAM
Education Secretary Damian Hind has called for the technology industry to revolutionise the ways in which teaching and learning are carried out in the UK’s schools, colleges and universities. 4C Strategies has years of experience working with the education sector, exploiting technology in order to increase efficiencies and enhance the teaching and learning experience, including the management of two large-scale mobile-learning deployments at Teesside University and the University of Westminster. Our consultants have witnessed first-hand the ways in which technology has already revolutionised the education experience and will continue to do so in the future.
What are the benefits of technological advancement within education?
In some UK schools, the latest and greatest technological advancements are being used to bring education to life. Children are able to build and control their own robots, or use virtual reality to explore the surface of the moon.
Not only does technology such as this enhance the learning experience, but it can also drastically reduce the amount of time that academic staff are spending on burdensome administrative tasks, increasing efficiencies and leaving more time to be dedicated to student experiences.
At one Midlands-based college, a variety of apps and software packages are used in order to facilitate the day-to-day running of the school, which is said to be saving academic staff “hours and hours of time”.
Despite these advantages, however, it is a mere minority of institutions within the UK that take advantage of the opportunities that technologies such as these have to offer.
Damian Hind’s statement
Damian Hind is calling on the entire technology industry, from Silicon Valley leaders such as Apple and Microsoft to the UK’s own burgeoning technology sector, to help to tackle some of the largest issues faced by the education sector today.
In one of his first addresses to the sector at the World Education Forum, the Education Secretary made clear his commitment to raising the status of teaching as a profession and ensuring that all teachers have access to a variety of technological resources in order to better focus their time and effort on student learning experiences.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to see technology being used in revolutionary ways,” said Hind. “It’s only by forging a strong partnership between government, technology innovators and the education sector that there will be sustainable, focused solutions which will ultimately support and inspire the learners of today and tomorrow.”
In order to revolutionise UK education, improve teaching and learning experiences and increase efficiencies sector-wide, five key opportunities have been identified. These opportunities pertain to the development of:
- Innovative teaching practices to provide access, inclusion and enhanced learning experiences for all.
- Upgraded assessment methods, making the assessment process more efficient and effective.
- Improved methods for the delivery of teacher training and development, providing increased support and flexibility.
- Automated administration processes that are able to reduce the burden of “non-teaching” tasks.
- Enhanced solutions pertaining to lifelong learning, such that those who have exited the formal education system may have the opportunity to continue their development through learning online.
Some of the country’s big players in education technology are already working with schools, colleges and universities, helping them to integrate new technologies into their everyday practices. The Education Secretary has called for these initiatives to be rolled out on a wider basis, throughout the UK, and to be reinforced by evidence of the tangible impact that they are having on these institutions.
What role is the Government playing?
As a result of a package announced in last year’s Autumn budget, more schools now have access to ultrafast broadband, which will play its part in providing the necessary infrastructure to fully exploit all of the advantages that technology has to offer within UK education.
The Department for Education has announced that, in the coming months, it will be working closely with businesses and schools throughout the UK to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place to put these institutions in a position to implement some of this technology in the improvement of the day-to-day experiences of staff and students alike.
What education solutions are technology vendors already providing?
Early 2018 saw the launch of Apple’s latest tablet offering, the iPad 2018. One of the more noteworthy features of the iPad 2018 is its compatibility with the Apple Pencil, adding a new dimension to the iPad experience, through a new level of interaction and a whole host of new apps to interact with.
Apple has made many an effort to sell the iPad 2018 as a “student’s iPad” and has placed substantial emphasis on the new tablet’s classroom credentials. According to Apple, there are around 200,000 education-centric apps now in the app store. Enhanced access to Schoolwork and iTunes U for academic staff has also made it easier to access and distribute course materials, set assignments and monitor student progress.
Experts have said that the iPad 2018’s power and specifications make it technologically more than capable of catering to this educational purpose, with 32GB of on-board storage and a further 200GB of online cloud storage offered exclusively to students. The new iPad’s battery life is also said to be just as good as that of the iPad Pro, which is obviously very important for a device that is required to stay alive throughout a full day of lectures, classes or study time.
Last year saw the introduction of a new set of Microsoft Teams features within the Office 365 for Education platform. This included the rollout of OneNote Class Notebook, allowing lecturers and other teaching staff to create and share assignments, attaching pages from OneNote which they can then distribute to students and subsequently grade upon return.
Microsoft Teams can also be used to enhance collaboration within education, with increased opportunities for the sharing of work, assigning of tasks and remote learning. This becomes particularly eminent when combined with the use of mobile devices, such as tablets like the Surface Go or iPad 2018.
In July of this year, Microsoft officially announced a partnership with Teesside University following the organisation’s recent introduction of a new Future Facing Learning strategy, implemented with the help of 4C Strategies. Microsoft described the launch as “one of the biggest digital shake-ups the higher education industry has ever seen”.
In addition to this, Microsoft is soon to be releasing the Surface Go, a new tablet boasting “laptop performance, tablet portability and a stunning touchscreen with the power of Windows 10”. According to reviews, the new Surface Go has an impressive battery life and, at just 10 inches, is easily portable. Both of these features would make it a great tool to assist with a day’s classes.
How has education already benefitted from these technologies?
In 2017, Teesside University embarked on a Future Facing Learning project, based around the principle benefits of Microsoft Teams, that is set to transform learning and teaching across the University.
In support of the pedagogic principles underpinning Future Facing Learning, eligible undergraduate students will be provided with an iPad, as an essential learning tool, commencing from September 2018. Any staff that teach first year modules were provided with iPads in early 2018, and engaged in an innovative University development programme to integrate the use of iPads into learning and teaching. The deployment will be scaled to incorporate all teaching staff over the following academic year. To support the effective use of iPads for pedagogic purposes, the University has identified a device agnostic toolkit of useful applications, with Microsoft Teams at its heart.
You can read the full case study on 4C Strategies’ work with Teesside University here.
In 2015, the University of Westminster launched one of the largest Apple iPad deployments in UK higher education, with the aim of revolutionising student learning at the University.
All teaching staff and undergraduate students in the Faculty of Science and Technology are now provided with an iPad from the start of their course through to graduation. With this initiative, the University has created an innovative and unique educational experience for students and lecturers alike, improving and advancing learning and teaching at the University.
You can read the full case study on 4C Strategies’ work with the University of Westminster here.
4C Strategies – Education Technology Consultants
4C Strategies has extensive experience in developing and executing technology strategies to enhance teaching and learning experiences. Any institutions wishing to know more about how education technology could improve their student learning experiences are more than welcome to contact 4C Strategies whose team will be happy to offer their expert advice. We can help an institution to develop a clear strategy, procure the appropriate technology and services and project manage the change programme that will be required to deliver an enhanced learning experience for students and staff alike. For advice on education technology in your institution, please do not hesitate to contact 4C Strategies on 01858 438938, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will be happy to help you.