The Technology Journey – The benefits when used efficiently

First of all, a big shout out to the 33 people who read my last blog. Think I might need to work on the publicity of my blogging a bit! Still it is early days I guess and I’m more impressed that I have actually made it to Blog 2!

There are a number of people who blog/tweet about using technology in the classroom. It’s the in-thing to do. A lot of these blogs really are excellent and provide great ideas for the classroom (I’m hoping to join this list of excellent bloggers who provide great ideas soon!) However, I think that the skill as a teacher comes when choosing where and when using technology is appropriate. I remember a conversation I had with a colleague a while back. It was based around technology and the question was basically about how it would improve the child’s learning. It was a great point in fairness. It is easy to be sucked into using technology for the sake of it.

When I took over the role of Computing co-ordinator in September last year, we knew that an OFSTED visit was imminent. I spent a fair bit of time thinking of the resources I wanted and how we would use technology to enhance learning across the curriculum. Subsequently what we are finding is that the use of technology has increased massively in our school. More importantly, the technology we are using is increasing not only in quantity but the quality of the education our school provides. When OFSTED came calling, they had this to say;

ofsted

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that the use of technology was the overbearing factor in our OFSTED success but it is evident (and was at the time of the inspection) that at our school the use of it is a strength. The teachers at our school have worked their socks off to achieve not only the OFSTED grading we got, but to sustain the improvement in the subsequent period. Some of this is down to a willingness to embrace new technologies but also because teachers at our school  know when to implement technology and when other methods are more appropriate to the task. This is of huge importance.

How did we do it? How are we doing it? We started by using our own school blogs. Many schools run blogs but I think ours is unique. This is because all our school blogs are run by children in Year 5 and 6 with minimal adult input. These are then showcased to the parents through various social media. The blogs can be found here http://www.standensbarnblogs.org.uk Using digital leaders has also been an important factor. We started with some training with the University of Northampton and since then they have presented at Teachmeets as well as enhancing the professional development of teachers by teaching pupils in the classroom. A fairly big achievement when you’re 9 or 10!

This led us to taking the DLs to the Excel. I have to be honest, I found the BETT show quite disappointing this year. The highlight for me was being able to take the digital leaders to look around and hopefully see the ‘bigger picture’ of technology. However, it seemed that the show itself has been overrun by what I would call ‘faddy’ technology. That thing where you will hear about it now and it will soon disappear. Every corner I turned there seemed to be a company trying to sell a 3D printer. Even worse, do companies really make money from selling software that helps you choose where to seat children in your class? Technology should never attempt to replace the skills of a teacher but ENHANCE them.

So when is best to use technology? There can’t be a hard and fast rule but one thing is for certain, the experience of the teacher will dictate when it should be used. You need  a teacher who is prepared to take risks. Things will go wrong along the way. It is a learning curve.

I’d like to think we are moving away from ‘lack of confidence’ contributing towards less technology use. However, as I have said, there is a time and place for its use. For example, whilst E-reading is all the rage, and I love apps such as Flipboard that really engage boys in reading, I still don’t think you can beat a book! Does e-reading help to increase the reading skills of children?Maybe, maybe not. Yes it can contribute but give me a guided reading session and an opportunity to speak to each other any day.

So in conclusion, I am hoping to blog again soon when some of the enhancements that technology can provide will be discussed! Hopefully with at least 35 readers! Have a good Bank Holiday weekend and remember, stay happy!

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