Press Release | March 2021
Making EdTech a lasting legacy from lockdown
by Simon Carter
Last Thursday RM sponsored the Westminster Education Forum Policy Conference on the future for EdTech in England – standards, quality and accessibility, the experience of lockdown, and next steps for the EdTech Strategy.
I took part in a panel discussion on EdTech and how Covid-19 may have changed things, specifically looking ahead to the legacy that it has left – in terms of the role of remote learning post-pandemic.
As a business dedicated to the education sector for 48 years, we are proud to have been able to help many schools and multi academy trusts make huge strides in modernising their technology to deliver the best education possible for their pupils both before and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Previously, only a minority of schools were talking about remote or blended learning. But that all changed with the lockdowns. Having captured the stories of many School and Trust leaders in our RM Case Studies over the past 12 months, there are three key learning points and reflections I wanted to share:
1. Technology is an enabler, but can be a barrier too
Recent research RM has undertaken with schools confirms that technology has an important role to play post-pandemic, with both parents and teachers believing that technology in schools is improving learning outcomes for their children.
This is reflected in comments from our customers – identifying that the presence of technology made the crisis easier to manage, freeing teachers up to focus on what they needed to do – to continue the education of their students.
“The pandemic has made school staff realise the fundamental role that technology can play in empowering, engaging, supporting, collaborating and enhancing teaching and learning right across the Academy.”
Head of Technology, Academy, Stoke-on-Trent
“In technology terms we have leapt forward further in five weeks than what we could have achieved without the virus in two years.”
COO, Multi Academy Trust, Hull
That said, it was not plain sailing for all, and in our research most respondents – amongst both parents and teachers – highlighted at least one barrier to implementing new technology. Teachers cited a lack of training and time wasted setting up technology as their biggest challenges, whilst for parents poor Wi-Fi connectivity or a lack of suitable devices in the home was more often flagged as the biggest barrier to remote learning for their children.
2. It’s about much more than just technology
Technology can be incredibly useful in many aspects of our lives. But the mere presence of technology alone is not a panacea. We’ve all experienced the phenomenon of additional tools and systems creating rather than alleviating workload.
When utilised effectively however, many EdTech solutions really can have a beneficial impact whether that’s in efficiency, workload, pupil or parent engagement, progress or attainment. But this is not down to simply installing the technology but how those school leaders and teachers utilise it to change the way they work. For example, when one primary school we work with started using adaptive comparative judgement to assess their pupil’s writing, it was the decision to stop marking writing outside of these termly assessments that had the biggest impact on teacher workload, whilst the adaptive comparative judgement tool improved the reliability of grading and improved teacher moderation and CPD through exposure to a wider set of work from pupils across other schools, which in turn helped teachers diagnose areas to focus on in classroom learning and pupil feedback.
In another example, a teacher was uncomfortable doing live video lessons during Lockdown, so instead they recorded their hand moving over the page as a way to engage children without revealing anything they didn’t want to.
Trivial examples in many respect… but hopefully demonstrate my point.
“We developed effective ways of setting, tracking and marking homework remotely and have developed huge amounts of content that can be transferable to next year and the future.”
Secondary School Assistant Head Teacher, North London
“Using this technology, We’ve saved each teacher at least three hours of additional marking per week – the equivalent to almost here weeks per teacher, per year.”
Primary School Head Teacher, Oxford
3. There is value to be had way beyond Covid
Our surveys of schools who installed Microsoft Teams or Google Classroom for remote teaching and learning as part of the DfE scheme, shows that just 1% are determined to remove the online learning platform that they implemented, with almost nine out of ten schools prepared to consider how it could be incorporated into their pedagogy in the future.
“By engaging on Microsoft Teams, we can offer much more contact with students who are unable to engage in the classroom environment.”
Deputy Head, High School, Stourbridge
“Technology helps give teachers a much better work-life balance, reducing time spent on lesson plans, setting works, and marking.”
Executive Head Teacher, Federation of Primary Schools, Northamptonshire
“Technology enables us to push our gifted children at the same time as look after those pupils who need more support such as those with visual impairments – it really does level up the playing field.”
Chair of Governors, Federation of Primary Schools
“It was quite telling that the first day when we had all the staff physically back in school, they were all on Microsoft Teams.”
Head of IT, Secondary School, Essex
The reasons can be heard in the words of many of those schools (above). Whilst Covid may have forced many into emergency actions, it has enabled many of them to find great examples within things they now don’t want to give up – benefits beyond the remote learning landscape.
If there is one lasting legacy to come from the past 12 months it must be to not go backwards!
For more information on how RM could support your school or trust, visit rm.com/education.
RM’s technology business unit enables the improvement of education outcomes around the world through the innovative use of existing and emerging technologies. With a heritage dating back 48 years, supporting schools, teachers and pupils across the globe – from pre-school to higher education – including examination boards, central governments and other professional institutions. rm.com/education
About RM plc
RM’s technology division is part of the listed company RM plc – the £189m turnover British business, with c. 1,837 employees globally. Established in 1973, RM plc’s Group purpose is to enrich the lives of learners worldwide. rm.com
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