CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

How technology has revolutionised the way pupils are taught

PUBLISHED: 17:38 29 April 2014

Dulwich Preparatory School pupils have been issued with iPads

Dulwich Preparatory School pupils have been issued with iPads

Archant

The world has moved on a long way from blackboards, chalk and board rubbers, and the technological revolution in our school classrooms has been moving at a truly blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pace. Matthew Williams brings us up to date

From the Spring 2014 A+ Education magazine

***

In barely a decade, commercially viable tablet computers have been transformed from a speculative vision to an integral part of many people’s days while online forums have flourished from slightly clunky, niche interest web communities to the all-consuming social media powers of Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Pinterest et al.

What is more, a recently published survey by education and training world leaders, the Pew Research Centre, identified that almost half of teenagers now own smartphones, up from just 23% in 2011, and that 95% of UK teens use the internet at least weekly.

Understandably, schools are constantly on the hunt for ways to harness this technological revolution, with some pretty impressive results.

Blue sky thinking

At Handcross Park near Haywards Heath, West Sussex, they have been quick to embrace new computer technology by using ‘The Cloud’ (a facility that enables access to documents and files from anywhere, rather than a fixed physical point) to enrich their curriculum.

“Throughout the school, pupils are able to use Chromebook laptops for research and academic work, which can then be shared with teachers and other pupils so that work can be continuously monitored and assessed,” says the school’s head of marketing, Jo Beard. “Pupils are able to work collaboratively, using the same documents simultaneously, or to print to school printers from anywhere in the world, just as long as they are logged into the Chrome browser via Google’s Cloud Print technology.”

A short whiz across the ether to Kent and another school with its finger on the technological pulse is Dulwich Prep in Cranbrook. Like many other schools 
over the course of the last year, they recently took the decision to issue a number of pupils with an iPad, in their case Years 7 and 8, for use both in lessons and at home.

“We see the personal ownership of the iPad as a critical element in increasing the children’s motivation, interest and engagement,” explains the school’s headmaster Paul David.

“Pupils are more autonomous and are taking more responsibility for their own learning.”

With so many students quite literally having the world at their fingertips, it does, however, create a whole new set of ‘digital playground’ rules for teachers and parents to consider.

“We knew that we had to be wholly honest with our students and promote the benefits of technology use on a daily basis, whilst at the same time raising awareness of the pitfalls,” says Michael Krause, the head of e-safety at Bede’s in Hailsham, East Sussex.

“We realised that whether we ourselves use the technology or not, these technologies are here to stay and will continue to play a major part in the wider lives of this generation of young people for years to come – hence why we take this forthright approach.”

That forthright approach took the shape of the school’s e-Safety review programme in 2009, which culminated in June 2013 when South West Grid for Learning awarded Bede’s the ‘360 degree safe’ E-Safety Mark, making it the country’s first independent school to be given this gold standard in e-safety provision.

This award has subsequently seen other leading schools, including Wellington College, looking at Bede’s model and using it as a basis for their own e-safety.

“Understanding the intricate ins and outs of Snapchat or Ask.fm can seem quite daunting for teachers,” continues Mr Krause. “However, a basic understanding of these technologies may be the key to starting a conversation with a student that might have proved difficult in the past, and can even provide substantial benefits to how a particular teacher plans lessons.”

Sourcing the code

It’s not just the access to technology that is improving education, however; some schools are now teaching computer science too. Where once there was a time when you were lucky to learn the various components of Microsoft Office to any competent degree, now schools are considering how best to mould the next generation of coders.

To this extent, students at Reigate Grammar School in Surrey recently took part in The Hour of Code, a coding event that saw over 10 million students participate worldwide.

The youngest pupils, aged 11 and 12, used their hour of coding to design and create coloured shapes and festive greetings using JavaScript – an object-oriented computer programming language commonly used to create interactive effects within web browsers.

“We live in a world surrounded by technology,” says Neil Stokes, head of computing at Reigate Grammar School. “We know that whatever field our young students choose to go into as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly hinge on understanding how technology works. But only a tiny fraction of schools provide the opportunity for learning computer science – just 10 per cent in fact.

“Currently, amongst the most available and highest paid jobs for graduates are those in computer science and nationally there is a push for those specialising in cyber security. It is an area of great potential and we are determined to equip the girls and boys here to make the most of those opportunities as they go into the world of work.”

In the right game

Another school with their eyes on future industries is Pennthorpe School in Rudgwick, West Sussex, where having specialist teachers with an interest in game development led to a realisation that simply learning programmes in the Microsoft Office suite was not enough.

“Learning these programmes was also becoming tedious with many students acquiring these skills themselves at home,” says head of ICT, Thomas Beglin.

“A new iMac suite of computers provided state-of-the-art resources allowing the use of a variety of industry standard programmes to be used. Students are now exposed to exciting new software like Mudbox, Google Sketchup, Scratch and iMovie, which allow them to be really creative and create stunning visual projects and animation.”

With wearable devices such as Google Glass just around the corner as well as who knows what other developments, classrooms may be starting to resemble Hollywood sci-fi movies more than the learning environments that most of us remember. But what is clear is that children have never had more power at their fingertips – and it’s never been more important for them to be able to harness that power, whether in their day-to-day schooling or future career.

High profile stories of whizz-kid app developers have become the norm these days, but the fact is, all students now have access to knowledge that many parents will be envious of – and, what is more, schools no longer need the shelf space of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries to make it happen.

-----------------------------------------------------------

A classroom for the 21st century

Some of the recent technology developments within the field of education, as referenced by the Department for Education, include:

***

Classroom assessment tools that enable teachers to know in real time what children can and can’t understand. Teachers can be immediately aware of gaps in understanding for specific pupils, tailoring their teaching accordingly.

***

Sophisticated data analysis and management tools that offer the potential for greater tailoring of learning and feedback, and better management information for school leaders.

***

Lesson videos and clips online (such as O2 Learn, TeacherTube and ItunesU) that enable teachers to learn more about the successful techniques and approaches of others, and offer pupils access to excellent teaching beyond the classroom.

***

A variety of rich media resources, and other ways of accessing knowledge such as online subject communities, experts and other educators.

***

Games and interactive software that can help pupils acquire skills and knowledge in an engaging and effective way. For example, proven maths software can help pupils develop understanding of complex mathematical problems.

***

Online learning and virtual schooling is beginning to play an important role alongside traditional approaches.

***

3D printers in the classroom could prove to be an innovative way of teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and design subjects.

More from Surrey Life

Thu, 10:52

Surrey is full of secret hideaways and hidden gems. Slades Farm on the Wintershall Estate is definitely one of them

Read more
Wed, 16:05

The new hotel is set to open in spring 2019 and will be located in the heart of the vineyard, offering sweeping views over the North Downs Way.

Read more
Tue, 10:53

From Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Surrey this season

Read more
Tue, 10:47

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Tue, 10:41

Having bloomed in Brighton’s restaurant scene over the past decade, The Chilli Pickle opened its second site in Guildford this summer

Read more
Mon, 14:32

Historic Royal Palaces and IMG have announced that Kylie Minogue is the first headliner confirmed for Hampton Court Palace Festival 2019. These will be her only London shows of summer 2019. Here’s how you can get tickets

Read more
Mon, 12:56

Enjoy this linear rail to ramble section of the Thames Down Link route taking the short train-ride from Box Hill & Westhumble to Ashtead before walking back

Read more
Mon, 12:13

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (16, 17 and 18 November): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s that time of year when our beautiful countryside is alight with the colours of autumn. Here, we pick out some of her favourite spots to enjoy the seasonal splendour – as well as some perfect places for a post-walk refresher

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Found on the stretch of the River Thames between Weybridge and East Molesey, Sunbury-on-Thames is blessed with a village feel where it meets the water. From antique hunts to the joys of river life, here are a few of our favourite reasons to visit

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Verity & Violet are Loui and Jess – a singing duo from Surrey who specialise in blending vintage classics with modern favourites. The two have achieved success in the capital, but are now hoping to attract an audience closer to home

Read more
Friday, November 2, 2018

With the Christmas celebrations seemingly starting earlier every year, it all feels a little too ‘soon’ sometimes, but what if you want to look your best for Christmas & New year celebrations and are considering having cosmetic non-surgical procedures? The Bella Vou Pantiles Clinic offers surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures and treatments from a purpose-built private clinic in the heart of Royal Tunbridge Wells

Read more
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Living in England’s most densely wooded county, it’s always a pleasure to witness Surrey donning its autumn finery. Here’s some of the best places to do just that - plus a few pub pit stops to enjoy on route!

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

We are regularly reminded of the high cost of housing with statistics revealing that only one in three millennials will be able to afford their own home during their lifetime and that most will remain in the category known as Generation Rent

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search