Is edtech only useful in a pandemic?
There's no doubt that schools have increasingly turned to technology over the last few months as schools have closed to most, but not all, pupils. Some schools already had well embedded systems and they came into their own during this crisis, many platforms have seen a significant increase in usage during this period. Jodie Lopez at LoveEdtech wrote about this.
TeacherTapp looked at use of technology and how it changed from before the announcement of school closures in the UK and through the first full week of lockdown. In early March 18% state primary school teachers reported they had access to a platform for setting and receiving work, compared with 57% of secondary school teachers.
Later in the month they asked about the technologies teachers had used during that first week. Interestingly 52% of Primary teachers said they had used an online platform to set and / or receive work, thats a 34% increase in those that reported they had one available at the start of the month. There was a similar increase of 25% in secondary.
What happened in those 4 weeks? - beyond the obvious and the world changed!
The answer is probably a range of factors:
not all teachers were aware of the platforms they had available to them and internal communications and CPD raised awareness
A large number of schools took advantage of the many 'free trial' offers from across the edtech sector and went through a phase of rapid implementation.
There's also a striking change in the use of 'live' lessons and video conferencing technologies, such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom. The sector that has embraced this technology the most has been the Independent sector. Only 1% of state schools were using this technology in the first week compared to 21% of Independent schools. By the end of the first week of lockdown usage in Independent had grown by around 7%.
Later in April Teachers on TeacherTapp were asked "What are you working on at home?" and the same very striking difference between sectors can be seen. 66% of teachers in Independent secondary reported they had hosted an online lesson with student interaction, compared to just 6% in the state sector. And perhaps particularly of note of the 7 uses of technology suggested teachers might have engaged in that week, 42% of teachers in state schools reported they had not engaged in any of them.
So in summary, there's a significant difference between sectors and between primary and secondary. That's not perhaps that surprising we've known that more broadly about the availability of technology in schools for sometime. What is interesting is the significant change in the awareness of and use of technology in the early days. The need to find new ways to work and adapt rapidly drove significant adoption, will it last?
Thousands of teachers have undertaken rapid CPD and enjoyed the benefits that technology use can bring. Depending on where you are in the world school closures are not necessarily a rarity (although extended closures clearly are), snow days, broken heating, health and safety concerns are all reasons we experience school closures in the UK. We also face the prospect of localised closures for classes, whole schools or local lockdowns for many months to come.
If you've benefitted from an online platform or other technologies during this period, remember it should be for life and not just for lockdown!
With the new academic year fast approaching (in Scotland it's already arrived!), schools are thinking about their online teaching and learning plans and how to respond to the DFE's expectations.
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