The digital divide affects millions of people in the UK every day. Access to the internet, devices or skills are all privileges that are often taken for granted, however, around 2.4 million adults in the UK are unable to complete a basic task to get online, such as opening an internet browser or using a mouse .
Tackling the digital divide starts at a young age. The number of jobs that demand digital literacy is increasing and therefore it’s important that classrooms are being shown the latest in technology, and students are being shown how to use it. By starting from a young age and equipping teachers with the necessary tools – students will be on track with continuing professional development (CPD) and the next generation of talent will have the digital know-how to compete for any role both here and abroad. Here, education tech experts Sync discuss the necessity of integrating further technology in education, as a way of improving attainment, ensuring CPD at all levels and reducing the digital divide in the long-term.
In many schools, teachers are not given access to the very best in technology, and lesson planning, as well as 1-to-1 support, is suffering consequently.
A recent study revealed that 20% of teachers surveyed say they have little or no experience using digital technology for teaching, as well as almost half of the teachers surveyed experiencing increased work stress due to the lack of integration of digital technology in their teaching .
To combat this, technology needs to be further integrated into the classroom environment so that teachers feel empowered to support and engage students like never before. Introducing classroom technology designed to enhance the interaction between teachers and students has also provided increased opportunities for engagement between teachers, inside the classroom and outside, as well as facilitating peer collaboration between educators across schools. One example is the Sync-partnered Showbie, an easy-to-use digital learning app that enables educators to engage every student more deeply and equitably through personalised learning, feedback, and assessment. The app also allows teachers to create a community that fosters communication, improves efficiencies and supports digital skill development, for example: educators can collaborate across year or subject groups, create shared class resources together, mentor new staff, or impart best practices to support the effective use of classroom technology. In doing so, teachers have been able to reduce their workloads while enhancing their use of technology to support student success.
With digital tools, educators can also access a vast pool of online resources, attend webinars, and participate in online courses. This allows them to stay up to date with the latest happenings in the industry and ensures that they can give their students, what is recognised by leaders in the education sector, to be the very best in teaching and support.
The introduction of the very best in tech, such as iPad, is a slow process yet it is already yielding impressive results. For leaders in education and those in the technology sector trying to raise awareness of iPad in education, an introduction to the devices can be possible through adapted teacher training days. Recently, Sync invited teachers from across the country for a unique learning day at the world-famous Beamish Open Air Museum. Teachers were equipping with iPad and tasked to discover the wonders of Beamish using the tech at their disposal, interacting with a variety of built-in tools and third-party apps, all on the one device in what was considered a teacher training day like no other.
Training days, alongside product demonstrations at events such as Bett, can prove pivotal in convincing decision makers in schools to introduce improved technology for teachers, funding educators to bridge the digital divide and progress CPD across all year groups.
Enhancing the learning of students
Currently, it is estimated that just 2% of teachers working in schools serving the most disadvantaged communities believe all their pupils have adequate access to devices and internet to work from home . Digital access in schools means students are being left behind in comparison to classrooms successfully utilising the best in technology, therefore failing teachers in their mission to provide CPD.
Equity across all schools is vital if we’re ever to reduce the digital divide for all students, not just the few. Without this, CPD cannot be expected to be achieved in schools lagging behind others in terms of access to resources and IT skills.
Schools already using the very latest in technology are already feeling the impact on student’s learning. The interactive devices and apps available on such devices help motivate and engage struggling students to find alternative, improved ways of working together both in the classroom and at home where necessary. The diverse range of educational apps available on these devices enables students of all age groups to engage in collaborative learning within a modern learning environment that caters to all learning needs. Students can seamlessly work together with fellow students, whether they are at home or in the school premises. Additionally, these apps empower students to go home and revise further, when core textbooks perhaps don’t engage as much in comparison.
For students with learning difficulties perhaps struggling with traditional teaching techniques, technology can provide an improved alternative. Already, the demand has risen for tech with built-in, extensive accessibility options, such as Mac and iPad, which features applications ‘VoiceOver’ and ‘Voice Control’ to support students. Schools are increasingly investing in this level of technology which can provide a range of services, to cut out the need for various third-party programmes and ensuring that no child is left out. It’s these, built-in devices that can ensure that the digital divide does not indiscriminately target those with learning difficulties and that CPD can be experienced by all students.
In a world where education and professional development are continually evolving, technology in the classroom is no longer an option but a necessity. For students, it provides the greatest opportunity to ensure continual professional development and for teachers, it gives them the tools to reduce the digital device for the next generation.