Teachers + an underuse of IT = under performance?

Teachers + an underuse of IT = under performance?

Recent figures show that one in twelve teachers have been denied a salary increase since performance-related pay came into fruition, with 90% of these teachers reporting that they had no warning that their salary would suddenly plateau (Schools Week). With official teacher representatives pushing for details behind these figures, one thing remains certain – the 27 various teacher grading metrics are a complex web of boxes to tick and tasks to fulfil, spanning from: “promoting a love of learning and children’s intellectual curiosity”, to having a “secure understanding of how a range of factors can inhibit pupils’ ability to learn”.

As if UK teachers needed any more pressure, beyond the official metrics of ‘performance’, is increasing discord that teachers who underuse IT are considered to underperform. Let’s explore the current use and benefits of IT in UK classrooms, and find out whether there are grounds to make a link between performance and the use of technology in the classroom.

"The type of device might change, but it's not going to go away. It will almost seem ridiculous if some of them are not using technology"

- Dr Clarke, Researcher of tablet use and attainment

Tech in the Classroom – The Benefits

The power of tech in education is undeniable. Research has established enlightening insight into the advantages that can be gained when tech is employed within the classroom; here are some statistics as to how tech impacts attainment and what students think of in-class IT use:

  • Primary school children who use iPads score higher on literacy tests than those who don’t (TUAW).
  • In one study, pupils who used iPads in the classroom achieved a 49% higher pass rate compared to those in traditional classrooms (CNN).
  • Students believe that technology makes learning more interesting and fun (Teach Hub).
  • 64% of high school students say tablets help them study more efficiently (Statistics).
  • 9 out of 10 students indicate that using technology in the classroom would help prepare them for the digital future (Teach Hub).

Teacher Opinion on Tech and Technophobia

81% of teachers believe that tablets can enrich classroom learning (Practutor), and 74% believe that technology can motivate students to learn (Kurzweil). What’s more, ‘Bring Your Own Device’ is becoming increasingly popular, with 63% of survey respondents in one study saying that students can bring their own technology into the classroom. This same survey, from Cambridge, found that those who don’t use it are “mostly afraid of misuse, distraction and being liable for loss/damage of student property.”

Performance and Proactively Embracing Technology for the Classroom

Whilst the 27 professional teaching practice outcomes make no explicit mention of IT, many of these outcomes could be assisted by the aid of technology, such as: homework management; creating a stimulating environment; using relevant data to monitor progress, set targets, and plan subsequent lessons; goal setting and behaviour management (the subject of which was a focus in our blog: Overcoming poor classroom behaviour with tech).

Whilst it is not for us to make a definitive link between underperformance and an avoidance of technology in the classroom, it seems apparent that not using technology as a tool to face the increasing teacher seems counterintuitive.

Notably, despite resoundingly positive figures as to the majority of teachers’ opinion on tech, there is some research out there that contradicts this outlook – reporting that “thousands of pounds worth of classroom technology is going unused as teachers lack the training to integrate it into lessons” and that tech is “rarely used” by half of teachers (The Telegraph).

This survey goes on to identify lack of training and support as the main reason behind these figures – which would serve to underline that even if underuse of IT does represent under performance, it perhaps lies with school and educational institutions to empower their staff in harnessing tech.

Amazing digital resources for technophobic teachers

1. Edutopia

Edutopia is an online platform for K-12 students, and is solely focused on helping teachers transition their students’ in-classroom learnings and skills to the outside world. Helpful topics that are included are: classroom management, common core, differentiated instruction, game-based learning, student engagement, brain-based learning, and blended learning.

Visit the Edutopia Website

2. HippoCampus

HippoCampus can be used by both teachers and students alike, with the website aiming to be a global resource that makes education accessible for all. Features include: simulations, videos, multimedia content and animations.

Visit the HippoCampus Website

3. LessonCast

LessonCast is a hub of inspirational lesson ideas, plans and management strategies. Teachers upload PowerPoints, documents, pictures and web cams that can be read or viewed within 2 and half minutes or less.

Visit the LessonCast Website

4. Discovery Education

Discovery Education provides for a rich source of tools for classroom learning – such as interactive games, lesson plans, contests, videos and programs. These span many subjects, including: English, Math, Social Studies, and Science.

Visit the Discovery Education Website

5. Glogster EDU

Glogster is a tool for those who struggle with using the more advanced of technology – such as creating a website or digital poster for their class. Users can easily manipulate: text, audio, video, images, graphics, drawings and data.

Visit the Glogster EDU Website

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