The recipe for a reliable for educational technology set up used to be simple – build a computer suite, install IWBs in the classrooms, add a few laptops and away you go.
Now, with so many tech-savvy primary pupils having mobile devices of their own, how should schools respond to such technological changes while still providing learning that helps today’s pupils become tomorrow’s successful digital citizens? You could start by avoiding the following…
1. Putting the technology first
Never risk installing a ‘solution’ across the whole-school without trialling it first. Headteachers and senior leaders should begin by considering what’s needed for good or outstanding learning. They should then develop a vision, and only then seek out the technology needed to deliver it.
Once the solutions have been decided upon, devise a three-year technology strategy linked to your wider school improvement aims.
2. Assuming the infrastructure will look after itself
A number of EdTech projects fail due to poor infrastructure planning and insufficient technical support.
If you’re planning to increase the number of connected pupil devices in your school, you’ll need to upgrade your WiFi system, while increasing the speed and capacity of your broadband connection.
You should also ensure that any technical support you have in place will still provide a full and timely response.
3. Believing that one size fits all
It’s important to provide hardware and software that enables pupils to program and code using a range of different devices, not just one type or brand.
Packages such as Code-a-Pillar and Blue-Bot and the kits available in Lego WeDo can be useful here.
4. Proceeding without a test drive
When rolling out new pupil devices, make sure your teachers get some hand-on time with them in advance. Familiarise staff with any new software or cloud-based systems you’ll be using and give them time to adjust if they will entail a new way of working.
Consider appointing an on-site technician, or assigning TAs, to support the integration of technology into your school’s teaching and learning.
5. Ignoring sources of expertise
Teachers will often say, “The pupils know more about computers than we do” – so why not use this to your advantage? Consider setting up a group of pupil digital leaders who can help provide support and advice.
We’re aware of one school in which this was done, where the pupils asked for devices with a keyboard and mouse, after staff had assumed that they would rather pinch and swipe using tablet devices!