ICT in the classroom has led to some wonderful successes. A report from think tank Reform this year – Beyond Gadgets: EdTech to help close the opportunity gap – details a few of these. A trial in the US, for instance, showed that ‘adaptive’ learning accelerated content understanding by 50% and increased pass rates by one-third.
However, ICT in schools is not without its horror stories. As with any technology, you get what you pay for – and while the right investment can reap rewards, the price of a bad investment can be very high indeed.
So with Halloween just around the corner, we thought we’d share a few cautionary tales to help you avoid the most common pitfalls of educational technology, and ensure a happy ending.
The twist in the tale
A school is having problems with their connection speed. Their ICT supplier decides the connectivity provider must not be right for them. So, they turn to a new provider, and go on to spend thousands on new technology – that doesn’t work. Why? Because the problem wasn’t their connectivity at all – but their infrastructure.
Misdiagnosis of a problem can be hugely costly. The right ICT supplier should be able to identify the exact cause of an issue and guide you towards the best resolution.
The cursed deal
In this story, an educational institution decides they need full-time ICT support, so they can rest assured that if they have any problems with their technology, someone will be on hand. Over time, they spend thousands on ICT support. However, in all that time they find themselves only ever needing to make a few simple calls.
Don’t pay for an ICT contract you don’t need. RM Education can manage or part-manage your ICT needs as required.
The frightening fraudster
A teacher receives an email from a colleague, telling them that they are on holiday, and have run into trouble and need funds immediately. Panicked – and thinking quickly, if not carefully – the teacher wires over thousands of pounds, only to discover that they have been duped.
Phishing emails are commonplace, even within schools. In fact cyber attacks have been identified as one of the biggest threats that schools face this year – with a fifth of educational establishments being targeted. RM Education can help your staff to be cyber security savvy.
Left in the dark
A school is enthralled by a flashy piece of technology, so they buy it in and proudly show it off to their staff, students and governors. However, after a little while they realise that there doesn’t seem to be much need for it – and so it hardly gets used, until it’s finally stored away in a cupboard, covered in dust and cobwebs and forgotten.
Introducing ICT means investing in what’s right for you – not just what looks good or costs a lot. Your ICT support should be able to help you to avoid expensive mistakes, and identify what best fits your own individual needs.
The teacher’s dread
A teacher has planned to use EdTech in class. The classroom waits in anticipation. However, when the teacher goes to start up the device it won’t load. They are stuck – attempting to use a tool that they never had a chance of understanding, because they lacked sufficient training.
A 2015 poll found that nearly half of teachers did not use technology available to them in the classroom due to a lack of training and uncertainty about effective integration. Teacher training is critical to the success of technology. If teachers don’t feel comfortable using EdTech, they are less likely to use it – especially if the outcome is looking incompetent in front of a restless class.
The happy ending
In spite of these gruesome scenarios, ICT doesn’t have to be a horror story. The Reform report notes good news, for instance:
- School ICT budgets were set to rise this year following years of reductions
- In Greater Manchester the proportion of a year group reaching the expected reading standards rose from 71% to 83% within just one year of using digital progress tests
- A trial saw students with learning disabilities improve results by 18%, compared with a 5% improvement for those taught the same content with traditional methods such as textbooks
If you’re looking into ICT solutions for your school, and you want to avoid the unexpected horrors, third-party providers like RM Education can manage or co-manage your ICT. We can even start by giving your school a free online ICT Health Check. Find out more here.