Before I joined the Tech Team at Edelman, I worked as a primary school teacher and technology was definitely not at the forefront of my mind. The odd occasion it did cross my mind however, it was not because of the amazing benefits it brought to me or my class. We had interactive whiteboards that were clunky, slow and always needed calibrating, 15 laptops for the entire school that took days to turn on and that most of the time couldn’t access the internet and we had a portable CD player for the weekly times table challenge. And that was it.
That was only three years ago.
Bett, one of the world’s leading education technology shows, dedicates four days to showcasing everything technology has to offer the world of education. It is completely overwhelming, with more than 800 EdTech providers showcasing their products and services. There’s everything from the tech giants like Microsoft and HP, to smaller companies such as Mighty Writer who want to transform the literacy of every child on the planet and Magic Whiteboard that allows you to create a whiteboard anywhere, from a roll, in seconds.
If you attend Bett, one thing will become plainly obvious – technology has the power to completely transform almost every aspect of teachers’ lives, not to mention learner outcomes, if given the chance.
Workload is the primary reason teachers are leaving the profession, according to research from the Institute of Education. The study found that it was the nature of the work, rather than the quantity of work, that was the main factor for teachers pursuing alternative careers.
Teachers are passionate about actually teaching – they want their students to be happy and to make the best possible progress. They don’t want to spend hours making children take laborious tests for the mere purpose of inputting scores into a huge spreadsheet to tick a box. Teachers know how well their class are performing and they know which children are progressing well. They don’t need to write the score on a spreadsheet to find this out.
Renaissance, an assessment and practice software, aims to combat this type of time-consuming workload and enable teachers to run pupil progress meetings without even using the word data. They have multiple choice tests for Maths and English that directly map to all objectives in the national curriculum, meaning that teachers can quickly and easily find out what level students are working at, which concepts/objectives they are not yet secure in, and how they are progressing throughout the year (it even maps out projected progress based on typical growth). It allows teachers to group students and compare their performance and progress, for example Pupil Premium students versus non-Pupil Premium students at the click of a button. And it can do all of this within half an hour of a class taking the simple, non-daunting test.
As a teacher, this could transform your working life. It would provide actionable insights to help improve learner outcomes (e.g. the majority of my class are still a little shaky on calculating perimeter, we’ll need to revisit that) without taking up a significant chunk of teaching time and staff time.
Renaissance is just one example of over 800 companies at Bett that can provide this kind of support for teachers. My main take away from my time at Bett this year is that technology is rapidly evolving, and tech companies of all shapes and sizes are quickly realising the potentially huge market in the education landscape. The impact technology could have on the teaching profession has the potential to be monumental (budget providing of course)! That said, it will be imperative to know exactly how to measure the impact of tech on learning – tech itself won’t make a teacher better but it can enhance learning and engagement if used effectively by good teachers.