Why teachers need to embrace mobile technology in the classroom

Schools are expected to spend £196m on mobile tech
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Schools in England are expected to spend £196 million of their ICT budget on mobile tech this year, and Neil Anderson, UK & I PPS pre sales manager and enterprise sales for HP, believes it has the power to transform learning in classrooms. Here he explains why...

This year we expect the 24,000 LE Schools in England to spend £196 million of their £3 billion ICT budget for 2015 on mobile learning. With over 8.3 million K-12 students in England likely to benefit from this investment, innovative new mobile devices are profoundly influencing how education is delivered and managed.

IT has become an essential part of a pupil’s learning as it allows them to understand concepts such as the sourcing of information, skills such as coding and also prepares them for the workplace. Additionally for the teacher, IT enhances the classroom environment by attracting students’ attention as well as motivating, enhancing and complementing their learning experience. As students use technology outside of school they are used to this format of interacting and by bringing it into the school environment makes education more engaging.

Innovation in mobile technology in the classroom has the power to transform the learning environment into one where both students and teachers are empowered to learn and teach smarter. For this type of transformation to be successful, schools need to be equipped with a full mobility solution that will allow portability and universal connectivity for anytime, anywhere access.

Previously, however, there have been errors in how we handle education technology. In schools across the UK there still remains out-of-date assumptions, practices, hardware and software that are limiting the adoption of mobile learning technology in the classroom.

Despite this, there is still a huge appetite in the classroom for new mobile technology. A recent TES survey found that the number one complaint from teachers globally is that they do not have enough hardware, with more than 60 per cent of educators saying they do not have enough computers and tablets for their students, highlighting that tablets are the most in-demand technology in their classrooms.

But the survey also highlighted that connectivity is a concern, with 50 per cent claiming that internet connectivity is a barrier to successful use of technology in the classroom. With regards to software, teachers were enthusiastic about game-based learning as 20 per cent would like to see more in their classroom, above all other new technologies.

Additionally, teachers around the world have expressed concerns that with the influx of complicated IT, their time has been reallocated on completing menial IT tasks, such as set-up, maintenance and repair of equipment, as opposed to spending their limited time and resources on teaching and lesson planning. As schools across the UK continue to invest in IT equipment, educators are faced with the new challenge of how to use this technology effectively and to prove the educational benefit of these new innovative investments and techniques. They need to prove that technology is not deployed solely as a ‘crowd-pleasing’ gimmick.

As a result, assessment will play a critical role in proving the value of the influx of new technologies into the classroom. The digitalisation of learning will allow assessment to increasingly become an ongoing process. The new wave of new devices to land in the classroom will be the most useful for teachers as they’ll be able to see aggregate statistics about their class, who’s ahead or behind, or if anyone is going too fast or too slow. Formative assessment can provide real-time or near-real-time feedback which allows teachers (and schools) to tailor learning interventions and content to individual students. Furthermore, formative assessment allows for in-process modifications, instead of waiting until year-end test results are released.

But it’s not about the number of units in the classroom, it’s about how they are designed and used. Teachers should not only be trained to use technology, they need to be empowered by being part of the design process and designing educational programmes from the outset as they are the ones who will be using it ‘on the front line.’ Not only will this enable them technically, but it will also empower emotionally so they can use technology in a meaningful way.

In many schools, technology provision is seen as being driven by the number of units where feedback on ICT effectiveness is demonstrated by the number of devices in a school, rather than the outcome. Mobile technology will increasingly play a key role in proving its own value in the classroom. The goal for these new education systems is to leverage technology that’s affordable to all families, and to transform the classroom into a learning environment that allows students and teachers to perform better. For this type of transformation to be successful, schools need to be equipped with a full mobility solution that will allow portability and universal connectivity for anytime, anywhere access.

HP recently introduced, cutting-edge assessment technology, hardware products, software bundles and online educator training courses that address these ever-growing needs of educators and students. The new HP education tablets, consisting of the HP Pro Tablet 10 EE for Windows and HP Pro Slate 10 EE for Android, are built for the classroom while providing enterprise-grade security with features like HP Client Security to help keep students and their data protected.

In today’s competitive workforce, these education tablets will help students succeed in the future by allowing them access to the latest technology and popular software platforms, Windows and Android.

Neil Anderson is the UK & I PPS pre sales manager and enterprise sales for HP

PCR's Sector Spotlight on Education is running throughout August - click here for more articles

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