In the UK, the Government spends more than £900m a year on education technology in the classroom. As this technology has continued to revolutionise the classroom, there has been a shift in teaching and learning away from the more traditional format of teachers lecturing students from the front of the classroom to a more collaborative learning environment, where teachers and students work together.
The investment by the Government has had a massive impact in the classroom, enabling a more student-led approach, allowing the teacher to assume a facilitating role rather than an instructing one. Student-led learning develops cognitive skills such as problem solving, teamwork, listening skills and the ability to apply what they have learnt in practice.
This student-led approach is something championed at Broadclyst Community Primary School (BCPS) in Exeter. The school has developed an exceptional reputation for its innovative use of IT and digital media, allowing pupils to take charge of their learning and collaborate on a scale beyond the classroom walls; an approach which is apparent in its Global Enterprise Challenge (GEC).
The GEC is a business initiative run by the school, and open to pupils aged between 9 and 15 across the world. It teaches them highly valuable skills including product design, market research, manufacture and marketing, putting pupil’s learning into a real-life context.
This year children from over 20 schools across the globe worked together in teams to select a product which would be developed and eventually take to the market. Throughout the process, they collaborated with each other using Office 365 software including Yammer, Skype for Business, Teams and more.
“There has been a shift in teaching and learning away from the more traditional format of teachers lecturing students from the front of the classroom to a more collaborative learning environment – Carl Sheen, Head of Training and Development, Genee “
Broadclyst School wanted to take this collaboration a step further, showcasing the next stage of the challenge through the use of interactive AV technology. Pupils at the Genee stand at Bett 2018 were able to conduct a live lesson with the rest of the class back at the school.
Matt Pitts, a teacher at Broadclyst School, explained how the interactive technology allowed them to work together on the same projects: “The kids were at the stage where they needed to be able to advertise their product to the wider community. To decide how best to do this, they started a brainstorm using interactive boards with multi-authoring ability, allowing them to work together and analyse texts, facilitate communication between different groups and share ideas virtually. Using the software on the interactive boards allowed a number of pupils to use the touch screen at one time, meaning each individual could get down their ideas, annotate work, share it with the other groups in the various locations and start to find solutions to any problems they came across when planning.”
Giving pupils the freedom to take ownership of their learning means that they can share experiences and skills beyond the classroom. Utilising technology to do this on a global scale will ensure pupils gain a greater understanding of other cultures, appreciate alternative interpretations of tasks and build their communication skills.
Technology has also helped to increase pupil engagement, with many immersing themselves in new environments without even having to leave the classroom. For example, the introduction of VR in the classroom and similar cost-effective technologies, including 360⁰ video, are ways that independent learning has become revolutionised in the classroom.
When it comes to technology though, Matt believes that it must take learning to the next level and provide a value-added experience: “We are not necessarily a school that adopts everything that’s new. I think it is really important to be quite discerning over what you put into the classroom. For us, the technology allows us to teach the curriculum we want to teach better than we could without it.
“Projects like the GEC and the use of technology has allowed our pupils to easily access their work wherever they are,” he continued. “While this kind of project-based learning can happen without the use of technology, we generally find that our pupils become a lot more engaged, excited and willing to learn and it allows them to create outcomes that they simply couldn’t have created any other way.