Technology has a transformative power. Many sectors, such as medicine, manufacturing, entertainment, travel, finance and retail have been changed fundamentally by the effective and innovative use of technology.  These sectors now operate in ways that are unrecognisable to those of a century, or even a decade ago.

Young people and their parents increasingly expect to find information, carry out transactions and connect to other people and services when and where they need to. How should education develop within an increasingly digital and connected world?

Recent technology developments within education include:

  • Classroom assessment tools which enable teachers to understand 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 and delivering greater personalisation. For example, through the use of real time formative assessment tools, Fayetteville schools (in Arkansas) have seen the reading achievement gap between high and low performers narrow significantly.
  • 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, which enable teachers to learn more about the successful techniques and approaches of others, and offer pupils access to excellent teaching beyond the classroom. For example sites such as Khan Academy, O2 Learn, TeacherTube and ItunesU provide free online lessons and videos for pupils, which have been developed and uploaded by teachers, academics and other experts.
  • 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, developed with rigour, to help pupils acquire skills and knowledge in an engaging and effective way. For example the Li Ka-Shing Foundation is funding a UK pilot of proven maths software that helps pupils develop understanding of complex mathematical problems. Adaptive software can increasingly recognise and respond to different learning needs. 
  • Online learning and virtual schooling is beginning to play an important role alongside traditional approaches. These approaches can support flexibility and choice in the curriculum and extend learning beyond the school environment. 

Evidence links the use of technology to improvements in learning and outcomes for pupils. Schools with a well-developed vision for learning and which lead and manage their use of technology in support of this are more likely to reap benefits.

What does this mean for schools?

In developing plans for technology, schools may want to:

  • Consider how technology can help when making decisions about how to deliver excellent teaching, effective school management and improved accountability.
  • Think about the scope of the knowledge and resources available to pupils beyond the bounds of the classroom and the textbook, to the very best online lessons, digital resources and tools. 
  • Consider the scope of professional tools in the hands of teachers, so they can carry out assessment, record and access data easily when they need to.
  • Ensure teachers are equipped with the skills to integrate digital technologies and new approaches successfully into their teaching, and set a clear expectation that no teacher should ignore the importance of technology in learning.
  • Deliver an ICT curriculum that engages pupils and equips them with the skills and knowledge needed for further study and the 21st century workplace.
  • Manage technology infrastructure and services professionally, offering access to tools and resources anywhere, anytime and achieving  best value when purchasing technology.

The Association for Learning Technology and Naace (the ICT association) launched an online conversation on technology on 11 January. To take part in this, please visit: www.schoolstech.org.uk. You can also contribute on Twitter using #schoolstech