Rachael Gallagher offers her advice on how to capture the educational market

Teacher knows best: What educators looks for in tech

It’s not only kids who can benefit from teachers – retailers and resellers could stand to learn a lot by listening to their educational customers.

PCR asks Rachael Gallagher, New Technologies Curriculum Leader at Rosendale Primary School, for her advice on how to capture the educational market.

Could you please give a brief overview of the technology you use to teach children?
We have iPads in every classroom–these are used for reflection and self-assessment on Evernote.

We also have netbooks, a media suite with a green screen and 30 iMacs, in addition to the standard classroom set up of smartboards and projectors.

Each class has a blog, which we use to share learning, communicate with parents and showcase films we have made. In addition, there is a radio studio with a mix desk, which i use with the children.

What are the primary factors that you take into account when considering new technology?
Durability is a priority for me – products in the past have let us down just as the guarantee runs out, so I research reviews before investing in a new brand. Schools run on a tight budget so we can’t afford to buy new kit every year.

This means that what we buy also has to have a broad use or be tailored to the curriculum.

Do you believe that the new computing curriculum is a step in the right direction?
Children these days are digital natives – some of them start nursery more able to use an iPad than a toilet. We should definitely be harnessing this and pushing them.

What advice would you give to retailers looking to sell their products to schools?
We’re lucky at Rosendale that we have a lot of young, highly digitally literate staff and children; we’re not afraid to try something new and support each other.

However, this isn’t the case everywhere – so offering a lot of support and training with your product will appeal to schools and teachers.

It’s also about making your products and services relevant to the national curriculum, and providing something that schools can easily see will support and enhance learning, rather than create more work.

How do you feel about the presence of technology such as the Raspberry Pi and other crowdfunded products within the education sector?
Anything that encourages children to think outside the box is great.

Some of the most innovative technological developments were made in the bedrooms of teenagers. The computing curriculum, if taught well, will hopefully further expand the number of creative platforms children have at their fingertips.

Do you believe that relatively new technology such as 3D printing is worth adopting in schools?
3D printing is in its early stages, and whilst we’re often the trailblazers I’m interested in seeing how it fits into educational settings.

We learned through trial and error how to manage a large number of iPads before school-friendly management systems were in place, so I’d like to see how someone else does it first.

Whilst schools do need to focus on the basics, it’s also important to expose children to these innovations so they understand how quickly technology is developing.

Do you believe that technology developed specifically for children is beneficial or detrimental for them in school or at home?
We use normal iPads in our nursery and the children get along with them fine.

Children are drawn to technology whether it’s specific to them or not. I think for the home, things like the LeapPad tablet are great, as they’ve got lots of educational tools and can help with a child’s learning.

We want children to learn how to use mainstream technology as early as possible because it’s far more useful to them – plus it’s more cost effective as it can be used across the whole school.

What are the biggest developments currently happening in the education technology space?
There’s a big push for one-to-one devices in schools – but I fear that’s more about sales than it is practicality. Tech brings learning to life and lets kids share learning with the wider community – hopefully that will develop further and more schools will see its value.

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