A recent study conducted in the USA by Edtech company SAM Labs in conjunction with independent online surveys company 72Point threw up two definitive conclusions. The first, supported by a huge 82% of respondents, who filled out the survey online, was that pupils who regularly use technology in the classroom are better prepared for their future entry into the modern workforce. That can be considered a significant plus for the Edtech industry and its growing influence in the curriculum.
However, the second conclusion, supported by a similarly large 78%, highlights some of the problems around Edtech. Teachers appear to overwhelmingly feel they lack sufficient training to effectively teach with the new technology being implemented.
How technology in education is being implemented in terms of teacher training now appears to have become a more significant bottleneck than actually having the technology in terms of students learning the tech skills they need. In the US there is currently somewhere in the region of 500,000 IT sector jobs that need to be filled compared to only 50,000 graduation out of the college system each year with Computer Science degrees.
However, the value of technology in education is, suggests the survey, far from limited to pupils learning how to code. The majority of teachers also believe Edtech helps improve learning across the entire curriculum. The positive impact of using technology in education appears to be particularly pronounced in how effectively youngsters learn math. 65% of respondents reported improvements in the subject when Edtech was introduced into teaching methodologies. 56% also noted benefits when it comes to literacy (reading and writing). Enthusiasm for how much value Edtech brings to teaching English and History was, however, lower, with only 39% and 21% respectively indicating they felt it improved learning in those subjects.
One potential cause for concern is that only 58% of teachers said they felt confident using tech in the classroom with 33% indicating the need for improved resources to assist them in putting together Edtech-centric lesson plans. 37% also said that they were devoting free time to becoming more familiar and confident with the Edtech they have been asked to implement in lessons.
Levels of training and teachers being forced to devote some part of their free time to ensuring they adequately keep on top of their jobs is, however, a long running issue and not specific to the implementation of Edtech. It’s a more wide ranging problem the education system has struggled with also here in the UK and boils down to budget constraints limiting teacher numbers. With time, this is hopefully something that Edtech will help address.
Personalised learning software is one major Edtech trend that it is hoped will have a positive impact on the time constraints faced by teachers globally. This is a major focus of well-funded Edtech projects such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative set up by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in honour of his son.