This blog is written from my experience as ICT coordinator for a special school. I love technology but I have overcome my youthful exuberance, the spike of excitement at seeing the latest shiny gadget. I say overcome but I think in some ways it is more like a stand off. On one side the fantastic shiny tech and the sales team, and advertising. On the other stands me, backed up loyally by the finance department.
As a teacher you cannot simply buy a piece of technology, nor is it just a financial investment. Behind every purchase there should be a process. as with anything in education us teachers are expected to be experts at this process. Some companies have whole departments responsible for acquiring resources, and I bet they make mistakes. However our mistakes may have big implications across limited school budgets. Technology is expensive, granted one kindle at £40 is exceptional value. But to resource a class of 30 let alone a whole school is a monumental task, with associated risks. Here are 5 points to consider before investing.
- The Golden rule, if you stop reading after this point fair enough but take heed! Do not buy anything without having identified exactly how you will implement this into your curriculum. This should not just be the computing curriculum either. Ask your teachers how would technology support learning in your topics this year? or even how will technology improve learning in your classroom?
- iPads are the tablet of choice for most schools but why are we choosing this over a android tablet at probably half the price? It is my opinion that iPads are the easiest tablet to pick up and use. This is great for SEN, the guided access option is brilliant as a starting point to focus students on the app you want to use that lesson. iOS is also familiar to many staff with iPhones so no steep learning curve. However I love the ease of management our new Android Learnpads bring.
- Make sure you have time allocated to training. A short presentation is not enough. Staff need to be confident using the technology, unless very passionate about technology teachers cannot afford to invest hours learning how to use a device. Play time is essential and modelling use day to day helps.
- Reliability is essential. Both the technology and the infrastructure must work when required. That means strong wi-fi everywhere. It also means someone must be responsible to overseeing management on a daily basis. Ensuring all devices are returned or charged at the end of the day. It will only take a couple of knocks to confidence to see technology relegated to the cupboard.
- Do not expect technology to solve your problems. Technology alone will not improve quality of teaching and learning. It will not improve attainment or engagement in lessons without staff who are confident & capable of using it effectively.
As long as you purchase with your eyes open, the correct infrastructure in place and a willingness to invest time after purchase technology will motivate, engage and expand opportunities for your students.