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Two Discovery Education Services Win 2022 SIIA CODiE Awards

 

 

The Discovery Education K-12 learning platform won the Best Education Platform award for PK-20 and the Mystery Science service earned the Best Science Instructional Solution award for Grades PK – 8 as part of the recent 2022 SIIA CODiE Awards. The prestigious CODiE Awards recognize the companies producing the most innovative education technology products across the country and around the world. 

 

“Discovery Education is proud of SIIA’s recognition of its K-12 platform and Mystery Science service and we thank the CODiE Award judges’ for their commitment to carefully reviewing all the entries in this year’s competition,” said Scott Kinney, Discovery Education’s CEO. “Discovery Education is dedicated to preparing learners for tomorrow by creating innovative classrooms connected to today’s world, and we are proud of the role our services play in supporting that mission. This recognition will inspire the Discovery Education team to continue to create innovative services that support the creation of the dynamic digital learning environments today’s educators and students demand and deserve.” 

 

The Discovery Education K-12 learning platform, which earned the Best Education Platform award for PK-20, connects educators to a vast collection of high-quality, standards-aligned content, ready-to-use digital lessons, intuitive quiz and activity creation tools, and professional learning resources. Providing educators an enhanced learning platform, the Discovery Education platform facilitates engaging, daily instruction in any learning environment. The flexible K-12 learning platform is designed to work within the school systems’ existing infrastructure and workflows and provides safe, secure, simple access methods for educators and students. Through expanded, lasting partnerships with Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas, Brightspace, and Clever, integrating Discovery Education’s K-12 learning platform into existing IT architecture is easier than ever.   

 

Mystery Science, which joined the family of Discovery Education services in 2020 and won the Best Science Instructional Solution award for Grades PK – 8, provides K-5 educators simple to use, open-and-go, hands-on lessons that inspire students to love science. Each lesson begins by posing a question commonly asked by young students, followed by a series of brief videos and prompts to guide class discussion. The lesson concludes with a hands-on activity designed to bring learning to life. 

 

As the worldwide edtech leader whose state-of-the-art digital platform supports learning wherever it takes place, Discovery Education has previously won CODiE awards for STEM Connectsocial impact educational initiativesScience Techbook, and the Social Studies Techbook Series

 

“The 2022 EdTech CODiE Award winners exemplify the outstanding products, services and overall innovation that enables learners of all types to connect with educators and educational materials,” said SIIA President Jeff Joseph. “We are so proud to recognize this year’s honorees – the best of the best – that provide solutions to many of the critical challenges facing learners today – from access and equity, to personalized and tailored learning and beyond. Congratulations to all of this year’s CODiE Award winners!” 

 

The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), the principal trade association for the software and digital content industries, announced the full slate of CODiE winners during a virtual winner announcement. Awards were given for products and services deployed specifically for education and learning professionals, including the top honor of the Best Overall Education Technology Solution. 

 

A SIIA CODiE Award win is a prestigious honor, following rigorous reviews by expert judges including educators and administrators whose evaluations determined the finalists. SIIA members then vote on the finalist products, and the scores from both rounds are tabulated to select the winners. 

 

More information about the Awards is available at http://www.siia.net/codie.  

 

Details about the winning products can be found at https://siia.net/codie/eduaction-technology-winners

 

For more information about Discovery Education’s digital resources and professional learning services, visit  www.discoveryeducation.com, and stay connected with Discovery Education on social media through Twitter and LinkedIn.  

Dynabook and Encyclopaedia Britannica partner to bring trusted learning content to education devices

23 March 2022, Neuss Germany – Today, Dynabook Europe and Encyclopaedia Britannica announce a partnership to bring Encyclopaedia Britannica’s trusted ‘Britannica School’ learning content to Dynabook’s fleet of education devices.

The partnership has been forged to make teachers’ lives easier while enhancing the learning experience. By combining Dynabook devices with Britannica School, students will have the freedom to research information that is safe, verified and trusted to be accurate. The partnership comes at a time when there has been an increase in demand for dependable learning content on reliable mobile devices.

The partnership will be announced at Bett 2022, the world’s leading education technology show, from 23rd-25th March. Visitors to the show can visit the Dynabook or Encyclopaedia Britannica stands to hear first-hand about the partnership, as well as to learn more about the two companies’ education heritage and wider initiatives in the sector. Dynabook and Encyclopaedia Britannica can be found at Bett at Stands SD71 and NH31/NJ31 respectively.

Dynabook and Encyclopaedia Britannica partnership

The partnership between Dynabook and Encyclopaedia Britannica aims to provide safe and accessible education for everyone. Schools wanting to this offer can follow a simple process by registering the devices through a web link with login details. Schools will then have full access to the benefits provided by Encyclopaedia Britannica’s leading education resource: Britannica School.

Britannica School is a bespoke education resource designed to benefit teachers and students by offering thousands of trustworthy, credible articles, sources and references to enhance the day-to-day learning experience. Students can toggle between different reading levels on each section of learning content, have articles read aloud, and even hear words pronounced. It also shields certain search terms which may have inappropriate or have dual meanings; ensuring a safe learning experience.

Emma Cork, head of UK sales at Encyclopaedia Britannica said,

“Britannica School offers reliable learning content to ensure schools won’t have the problem with misinformation that they’re often encountering in today’s world of misinformation. The resource has been designed through many years of working with schools to understand their specific needs. It gives students access to a relevant selection of our deeply researched and trusted content: a powerful addition to every classroom. The partnership of our content available on the highly respected Dynabooks offers an important and reliable contribution to classrooms across the country.”

The Beckfoot Trust, a multi-academy trust, said: “We worked closely with Dynabook’s reseller ACS to define the best and most cost-effective devices for use in the school for both teachers and students. The Trust has invested in a number of Dynabook devices, specifically designed for education, including the 14” C40 laptops and also the 11inch E10-S perfect for student use. The key deciding factors were the reliability and robustness of the devices, designed to cope with the rigours of a school day and be powerful enough to run all the required school curriculum software. With the additional free access to Britannica School online, an exclusive offer through Dynabook, schools, teachers and students have a safe curriculum based online teaching and learning resource covering all key stages and includes journals, articles, images and video content.”

“It is really exciting to be back at Bett this year and we are looking forward to show visitors our new devices, solutions and accessories”, said Dawn Henderson education sales lead at Dynabook Europe GmbH. “Our partnership with Encyclopaedia Britannica is a critical element of our ongoing commitment to providing schools and educational institutions with carefully engineered, reliable, sturdy and secure devices. Together, we can support schools and colleges with the perfect solution. The education team and I are looking forward to welcoming everyone to the Dynabook stand.”

Dynabook laptops including the Satellite Pro E10-S are available to purchase via The Dynabook & Tablet Academy 1:1 Programme. This scheme allows schools and parents to select a device that is best suited to them with a variety of financing options to choose from.

Learn to Game or Game to Learn?

 

Michael Bodekaer – CEO and co-founder of Labster

 

When the world shifted to remote learning, many got their first chance to experience digital learning tools. And generally, teachers, students, and parents liked them. Whilst this might come as a surprise to those who are not yet familiar with the impact of gamified education technologies, it bears remembering just how much we humans are drawn to play.

The disposition to play

There is much to be said for the stimulation and engagement that comes with video games and how this can be appropriated into an effective learning setting. Indeed, gamified 3D learning in a virtual lab simulation combined with engaging storytelling and an incentivising grading system creates a level of engagement that can’t be achieved through traditional classroom methods.

A major part of this development comes down to the fact that as humans, we have a disposition to play. Based on this natural inclination, students who are presented with a game-like classroom setting are more likely to be interested and throw themselves into the learning experience. Studies on the topic have proven that learner-content interaction is the strongest determinant that affects students’ satisfaction and learning outcomes. So, if content is the priority, should we not align it with the interests of the student? If we dismantle the idea of schooling as a rigid system of learning far removed from genuine interest and enjoyment, we unlock a new future in education.

Moving beyond textbook-based learning

Take labs for example; the typical lab works with tools including pencils, stop watches and pendulums.

Yet, how can that compete with the excitement of a video game in the minds of learners? You can’t change the gravity in a classroom, but you can in a virtual one. The answer is obvious: the lab must

be adapted to the metier of the video game. Instead of imagining how much slower a box would  fall in the moon’s gravity, we can use online science simulations to show it. What’s more, as a society we have consistently adhered to the mistaken notion that play can’t be serious. The traditional, textbook-based learning experience often fails those who are inspired by a more creative and immersive environment. Indeed, neuro-diverse students and students with disabilities, in particular, can benefit from online learning as they are presented with a more flexible and approachable curriculum.

Accessibility in this regard allows an individual student to work at their own pace and provides a more equitable learning space in a system that has often rewarded the traditional and able learner. This development in education comes at a particularly poignant time for society as we anticipate the metaverse and its various virtual offerings.

Gamifying education in the metaverse

 As the metaverse becomes a reality, it is vital that we consider how education can provide a richer learning experience for both student and teacher. The traditional tools and learning systems worked well for a dedicated subset of students. Yet, one of the most exciting reasons for education to transition into the metaverse is to improve accessibility. The development of the metaverse comes hand in hand with the trend of major tech conglomerates acquiring long standing gaming platforms, with the likes of Microsoft and Tencent making monumental offers for gaming platforms in the past year.

This appears to be in anticipation of gaming platforms being a vital technology for a functioning metaverse, when the time comes. Having said that, if we consider the metaverse to be something beyond the typical connotations associated with video games, we begin to see opportunity for a genuine and purpose-built technology that capitalises on the intersection of education and technology.

Indeed, we have already seen research projects using fundamental gaming principles to apply people’s love of puzzles to crowdsource much-needed computation to find a cure for cancer – so we know it’s effective. Education needs to catch up; by bringing the worlds of education and gaming together, we can make it more accessible, practical, engaging, interactive and relevant to a broader group of learners.

The gamification of education can elevate learning with immersive experiences, such as virtual science experiments, that bend the laws of the physical world and expose new ways of teaching and learning skills with unlimited potential. We have the potential to unravel the traditions that have confined education for as long as we’ve known. Learning in the metaverse and gamified education tools can be a force for good, as it advances the quality of education and makes it an accessible space. The way major companies utilise the metaverse technology will speak volumes of their intentions and ambitions for society. Now we have the opportunity to contribute to real change, particularly for something as fundamental as education, and make a difference to the learning experience of so many students and teachers.

 

The Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre in Bath

 

Connect with history where it really happened!

Opens spring 2022

  

Experience history where it happened! Step back in time and explore the world of ancient Bath on a school trip to the Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre.

Opening this spring, the Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre is a new, state-of-the-art Learning Centre at this historic site. A former Victorian spa laundry building, along with an area of Roman remains beneath street level, have been sensitively renovated to create a new Learning Centre that will allow school and community groups to learn about history and heritage in a hands-on and accessible way.

  • Learn amongst the remains of one of the great sites of the ancient world
  • Have a go at being an archaeologist! Excavate your own finds in a new underground Investigation Zone surrounded by real Roman remains
  • Handle real artefacts and walk on the pavements where Romans walked 2,000 years ago

A highlight of the Clore Learning Centre is a pioneering new learning space called the Investigation Zone  an atmospheric underground environment set amidst real Roman remains. Here, children will be able to explore, investigate and record archaeological materials in a hands-on way, becoming mini-archaeologists and mini-curators as they participate in learning sessions amongst real Roman archaeology.

The floors above contain two stunning new learning spaces. The Sulis room is geared towards primary school groups, with photos of Roman characters on the walls and views across the street to the Roman Baths. The Minerva room is a flexible space that can be used for a variety of activities – from gathering around large tables for a handling session, to sitting theatre-style to watch a presentation.

The Clore Learning Centre offers stress-free school visits, with new facilities including a lunchroom inspired by the laundry’s former Water Tank, a designated coach drop-off point, and an underground tunnel which will create a dramatic, direct route from the Learning Centre into the Roman Baths.

Teachers can choose from a range of inspirational teaching sessions and activities, with opportunities to handle Roman objects from the museum’s collection and investigate historical sources. The sessions are closely linked to the National Curriculum and cover subjects such as Roman bathing, religion and belief, Latin language, and life in Roman Britain.

Councillor Dine Romero, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Communities and Culture at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “We’re really looking forward to opening the doors of the new Clore Learning Centre to school children and local community groups. Once established, about 15,000 people are expected to use the Centre every year, and the new, purpose-built facilities will hugely improve the quality of their visit to the Roman Baths.”

Lindsey Braidley, Learning and Participation Manager at the Roman Baths, added: “Learning outside the classroom is an essential part of children’s education. Studies have shown that cultural trips significantly improve the health and wellbeing of students – something that, after successive lockdowns and reduced access to trips, is more essential than ever.”

The offer for schools will be complemented by a vibrant community engagement programme, which will build new relationships with local community groups, and offer student placements, apprenticeships, and volunteering opportunities. Outreach events will allow a wider range of people to engage with the unique history and heritage on their doorstep.

The Clore Learning Centre is part of the Archway Project, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players, which also includes a brand-new Bath World Heritage Centre and a newly revealed Roman Gym at the Roman Baths.

Stuart McLeod, Director, England – London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We’re delighted to see The Roman Baths Clore Learning Centre open following £5million funding as part of the Archway Project. Thanks to National Lottery players, school groups will be able to engage and connect with the history of Bath in a new way. They can discover more about its rich heritage through hands-on learning and walk-through Roman archelogy in real life. This experiential learning will be very memorable to these young historians and offer a glimpse into the fascinating history of this World Heritage Site.”

The Clore Learning Centre is kindly supported by Clore Duffield Foundation and The Roman Baths Foundation.

For more information, please visit www.romanbaths.co.uk/schools.

North London Pupils Lead World in Trialling New Technology

Pupils at a North London primary school are discovering a whole new way of learning, as the first children in the world to use a new app that brings 3D dinosaurs, spaceships and ancient civilisations into the classroom.

 

Anson Primary School in Cricklewood is the first school to use Sandbox AR, a cutting edge, no-cost iPad app that lets pupils use Augmented Reality (AR) to build and explore virtual worlds.  From walking with dinosaurs to visiting the pyramids of Egypt, the app brings learning to life by allowing pupils to travel through space and time without leaving their classrooms.

 

Sandbox AR was created by EdTech company Discovery Education, who collaborated with London-based edtech charity LGfL-The National Grid for Learning, to pilot it at Anson Primary. The school was chosen thanks to its reputation for teaching with technology and innovative staff.  Once introduced into the classroom, pupils used the app to visit the natural world, explore scenes from history and even come face to face with dinosaurs!

 

Anson Primary School’s pupils and teachers had lots of fun experimenting with the new technology before the app was launched around the world. From small beginnings in Cricklewood, Sandbox AR is now being used in schools across the UK, America, Asia and Australia. 

 

Simon Pile, Deputy Headteacher at Anson Primary School said:

 

“At Anson Primary School we believe in pushing the boundaries of education and we love teaching with new technology. We were delighted to be chosen as the first school in the world to use Sandbox AR, working in partnership with Discovery Education and LGfL.  Our pupils enjoy the interactive experiences AR creates, and the app has helped us to deepen learning and bring the WOW factor into the classroom.” 

 

Howard Lewis, Discovery Education’s Managing Director UK and International, said:

 

“Sandbox AR allows teachers to create immersive, interactive learning experiences that unlock students’ natural curiosity and help them push learning beyond the classroom walls. Discovery Education is proud to work with LGfL and Anson Primary School to make this cutting edge, no-cost app available to educators everywhere. ”

 

Bob Usher, LGfL Content Manager said:

 

“Sharing inspirational and accessible new technologies to help schools improve everyday teaching and learning is LGfL’s priority. Our partnership with Discovery Education helps LGfL schools to stay on the leading edge when it comes to using innovative technology. We think that Sandbox AR has huge potential for use across the curriculum, for all learners.”

 

Discovery Education’s Sandbox AR app empowers students and teachers to create, share, and even inhabit virtual environments. Within Sandbox AR, users can create virtual worlds and populate them with some of the hundreds of unique objects from history, the built world, science and nature, and more. Sandbox AR also gives students new ways to express themselves and demonstrate their learning through a feature that lets learners take photos or record a video walkthrough with their own voice over. Sandbox AR even offers a mode that allows users to scale up and inhabit their own life size virtual environments.

 

For those new to AR, Sandbox AR includes many pre-built sandboxes exploring diverse subjects such as ancient Egypt, space exploration, Mayan civilization, road construction, and more, with additional sandboxes coming soon. Discovery Education is also making available several free, pre-built lessons educators can use with the app to familiarize themselves with integrating AR into classroom instruction. Sandbox AR is available for download here.

 

Discovery Education will be at Bett 2022. Join us in the Bett Arena on Friday 25th March at 11.50am to discover how immersive experiences are transforming classrooms everywhere. 

 

For more information about Discovery Education’s digital resources and professional learning services, visit www.discoveryeducation.co.uk and stay connected with Discovery Education on social media through Twitter and LinkedIn.   

 

Using EdTech to create seamless in-class learning

Entrepreneur and web developer, Matt Mullenweg, once said technology is best when it brings people together. Technology at its best can also be a teacher’s best friend and an enabler for creating a more seamless and calm learning environment for students. Since the start of the pandemic, EdTech has provided educators with a unique opportunity to breathe a little fresh air into the classroom while dusting away a few age-old cobwebs.

 

We’ve had a chance to rethink teaching and learning – to think outside the box and trial different teaching methods. Good EdTech should support more equilibrium in the classroom, help create a sense of calm and give students a sense of creative freedom and security. Promethean’s sixth State of Technology in Education Report, which asked educators from across the country to share their experiences and priorities, showed that attitudes towards tech use in the classroom remain consistently positive. When asked about using EdTech in the classroom, 77% said they believe EdTech is a great way to engage students, and 76% believe it enables them to do their job better.

 

Using over 20 years of experience working with the education sector, Promethean is committed to ensuring schools can access the very best experience in line with their specific needs and priorities. The award-winning ActivPanel has been designed to deliver innovation and ease-of-use that matters to teachers and students. The ActivPanel is purpose-built to make teaching more seamless and productive while elevating student learning experiences. The intuitive Unified Menu makes access to the most commonly used tools quick and easy, allowing teachers to smoothly navigate and support learning.

 

Giving teachers the support they need and deserve…

 

Whichever EdTech is being used, it should enable teachers to do their jobs better while at the same time helping students to feel more engaged, included and empowered. Promethean’s State of Technology in Education Report showed that teachers feel they are not receiving adequate training and support they need to utilise EdTech effectively, with 55% saying classroom tech training is lacking and 9% claiming that they received no training at all. With budget and time constraints being named as barriers, only 15% of respondents felt they received “full training” when it came to technology. It’s clear that having technology that is easy to use and appropriate training disseminated is crucial. To help address the shortage of EdTech training and make development opportunities more accessible to teachers throughout the UK and Ireland, Promethean created the online CPD platform, Learn Promethean, which provides free and easily accessible training. The platform hosts a wide range of opportunities for developing EdTech skills with over 20 online courses, more than 200 training videos, and over 130 articles and resources.

 

Teachers are able to use the ActivPanel in collaboration with a range of inclusive classroom devices such as tablets and laptops. This means functions such as device mirroring and quizzes that require class participation and provide instant assessment, are simple to deliver. Multi-device mirroring allows teachers to move seamlessly and flexibly around the classroom. The ActivPanel Series comes with a choice of software supplied free as standard, including ActivInspire and ClassFlow. Designed by teachers, for teachers, award-winning ActivInspire software can be used to create and deliver lessons that are interactive and engaging. Teachers can smoothly leverage and enhance existing content and resources while responding to student insights in real time. If a teacher is away from the ActivPanel because they are working at home, using ActivInspire on their laptop to share lessons allows them to save time and avoid any duplication of effort. They are able to record their voice and talk their students through the key learning points as if they were in the classroom.

 

Empowering students…

 

Embracing modern technology is vital for students, who understand that it will inevitably play a key role in their futures – both in their education, careers, and in their personal lives. EdTech helps students to feel more confident and in control, which in turn can support better wellbeing. EdTech acts as an enabler for key student interaction that might not otherwise exist. Inflexible blackboards and chalk now seem like a distant memory. The ActivPanel is not just the teacher’s tool, it’s there for the whole classroom and it represents a unified hub of learning shared by both teacher and students.

 

The State of Technology in Education Report showed that social and emotional learning (SEL) was a top priority for 44% of educators, but only 2% of schools said they will be able to invest in wellbeing for 2022/23. The Promethean ActivPanel encourages collaboration that supports wellbeing in class and can help reduce any feelings of separation or isolation among students. When used appropriately, technology is a great tool for stimulating and inspiring students. Using tools such as polls and quizzes for assessment can increase interactivity and give the classroom an energy boost.

 

Looking to the future…

 

Moving forward, teachers must have the right tools to connect with students in engaging and innovative ways. Educators are confident EdTech is here to stay and will play an important part in the future of teaching and learning. Promethean’s State of Technology Report showed that 61% believe online content and resources will see the biggest growth in the future. Following the last 18 months, 95% believe they are now better equipped for distance learning when needed.

 

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that you can’t get different results by doing things the same way and while the idea of not reinventing the wheel has weight, you have to ask the question how well the wheel is rolling and whether it could benefit from a little realignment. EdTech has gifted educators with a flexibility their predecessors weren’t afforded. Of course, the downside may be no more snow days.

 

To find out more about the ActivPanel and to arrange a demonstration, visit: prometheanworld.com/gb/products/interactive-displays/activpanel

 

 

OKdo partners with LEGO® Education to retail enhanced STEAM education products

OKdo, trading brand of Electrocomponents plc (LSE: ECM), a global omni-channel provider of product and service solutions, has announced partnered with LEGO® Education as an authorised reseller of LEGO® Education products in the UK.

The partnership will see OKdo offer six LEGO® Education sets initially, all of which promote STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) learning through play to students of all ages. Some of the initial products in the range include:

  • The LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set, an easy-to-use STEAM learning tool to help introduce creative robotics to Year 7 to Year 9 students.
  • The LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Expansion Set, which makes it easy to bring students’ creative robotics ideas to life using intelligent hardware. This set combines with the SPIKE™ Prime Set and free SPIKE App to give over 10 hours of targeted STEAM learning.
  • The LEGO® Education BricQ Motion Essential Set, which introduces children aged 6+ to STEAM learning, with students able to build a robot using over 500 LEGO easy-build elements, mini-figures, gears and more.

The partnership further enhances OKdo’s STEAM education offering, following their recent research into all the benefits of bringing coding and computer science into the classroom. Their Broader Benefits of Learning to Code report found that nearly all (96%) UK primary and secondary school teachers surveyed reported seeing first-hand evidence that computer science lessons help children to develop other hard and soft skills in addition to IT abilities.

Demand for computer science talent is also skyrocketing in the UK’s booming tech sector, and OKdo’s ‘Computer Science in the Classroom’ report highlighted the importance of engaging more children in computer science while at school.

They analysed the numbers of students sitting computer science and computing courses at GCSE and undergraduate levels, and found that, while progress is being made – 79,964 students sat the GCSE Computing in 2021 compared to just 16,773 in 2014 – more work still needs to be done to engage more students in these areas at any early age, to ensure the industry can continue to grow.

Richard Curtin, SVP of Technology at OKdo, said: “Educating the next generation is at the heart of the OKdo mission. Our research has shown the importance of STEAM skills in the classroom, and we are excited and proud to have partnered with LEGO® Education as their sets will encourage more children to discover coding and help them develop confidence in STEAM learning, while also building valuable creative and critical thinking, and problem solving skills.”

For further information about the LEGO® Education products and resources available from OKdo, please visit: https://www.okdo.com/lego-education/

Information about the complete STEM offering from OKdo is available at: https://www.okdo.com/c/coding-for-kids/

Lessons learned from remote education

~ Teaching won’t be the same again, thanks to new technology ~

 

Before March 2020, catching ‘fresher’s flu’ was a right of passage for university students. Fast forward 18 months and students around the world stayed indoors to keep illness at bay. However, the pandemic has taught the education sector an important lesson — the value of selecting the right communication tools. Here, Ginelle Bell, UK country manager at Cloud communications provider Ringover, explains more.

 

According to UNESCO, more than 1.5 billion students around the world were forced out of their typical learning settings in 2020, with many participating in lessons online. Globally, education in the 21st century has never seen so much disruption and it has prompted critical conversations about the role of technology in delivering education.

 

Education isn’t the only sector that’s facing an overhaul. Over the course of the pandemic, and for several more years to come, communication technologies have grown increasingly more sophisticated. The UK increased its fibre connections by 50 per cent in 2020, and while its broadband connectivity stills lags behind many other countries, the nation is undergoing massive change. As Openreach switches of the public switched telephone network (PSTN), every business will be communicating differently by 2025.

 

Research by broadband company Zen shows that 17 per cent of large organisations are still unaware of the switch off. Education facilities also risk becoming out of the technology loop, if they don’t learn from the past 28 months.

 

Going remote

Throughout much of 2020 and 2021, educators had no choice but to deliver teaching remotely. However, even though in-person teaching has widely resumed, distance learning could become an increasingly favoured choice, rather than an obligation.

 

Distance learning isn’t a phenomena of today’s society. Back in 1969, The Open University (OU) pioneered the concept by offering students the chance to gain a degree without needing to set foot on campus. It was a radical idea for its time — yet proved highly popular. By the time applications closed for its first year of enrolment, the university had received over 100,000 applications.

 

However, The OU’s popularity has decreased over time with numbers of full-time enrolments slipping over the past decade. But things could be set to shift again. Increased demand for upskilling and reskilling, as well as an emphasis in the attractiveness of online learning spurred on by the pandemic, has caused a surge in OU registrations.

 

Overall, the total number of OU students enrolled for the 2020/21 academic year is up 15 per cent on last year — from just over 141,000 to more than 163,000. While distance learning has seemed like a short term fix to keep people safe, it’s also encouraged a newfound appreciation for the teaching method that could lead to long-term behavioural changes.

Getting prepared

We won’t be saying goodbye to fresher’s flu any time soon. While most forms of education continue in person, education facilities shouldn’t neglect the promise of distance learning.

 

What’s more, the past 18 months has taught every industry to expect the unexpected. Most businesses were not prepared to go remote overnight at the start of the pandemic, and education was no exception. However, having the right tools in place to ensure distance learning can be carried out effectively is the best way to plan for any other unforeseen circumstances.

 

One essential piece of any education facility’s armoury is the right communication tools. In particular, facilities should opt for a Cloud-based solution. Cloud-based platforms provide an easy way for educational institutes to streamline their academic communications and collaborations. They can achieve this by combining real-time voice, video and messaging capabilities with their business applications.

 

Using Cloud-based software that enables Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)  makes it easy for students and teachers to interact collaboratively by using real-time messaging and video. This can effectively improve completing group projects, enhances the way teachers communicate with students and cuts down obstacles in the system of education. Because technologies such as VoIP enable calls through the Internet, rather than a fixed telephone line, it’s far easier for education providers to interact with geographically dispersed students and with less ongoing costs.

 

90 per cent of data breaches are a result of human error, and using the Cloud to manage communication tools and store their associated data can help universities better manage sensitive information.

 

At Ringover, another huge benefit we see for VoIP technologies in education is its scalability. Our own software can be easily scaled to suit the size and needs of any business, whether it requires a complete professional phone system or additions to its existing infrastructure. With collaboration tools such as screen sharing, instant messaging and video conferencing, Ringover’s software can help facilities of any size communicate effectively.

 

After several weeks of getting to know each other, it’s likely many students are battling fresher’s flu right now. However, no matter which education route a person chooses, having access to effective communications tools is crucial. Post-pandemic education won’t look the same as it did previously, and having scalable, streamlined software in place will help any facility to future proof.

Over a quarter of teachers fear further Covid-19 disruption will be the biggest challenge to the Autumn term

  • Addressing the attainment gap arising from Covid-19 disruption (20%) and the mental health of pupils (14%) were also reported as expected challenges – with 1 in 4 teachers concerned that the maths attainment gap will be hardest to close
  • 71% of teacher’s reported their confidence in using edtech has increased – a 7% increase compared to June 2020

 

New research from Renaissance, a leading provider of edtech solutions to improve outcomes and accelerate learning, has revealed that over a quarter of teachers (27%) believe Covid-19 related disruption will be the biggest challenge this Autumn term. The research asked almost five hundred (472) senior school leaders, department heads, and teachers about their thoughts and concerns as the new school term got underway.  

 

Covid-19 disruption such as closures and children isolating were cited as the largest expected challenges. In addition, addressing the attainment gap arising from Covid-19 disruption (20%) and the mental health of pupils (14%) followed as the next biggest expected challenges; as research revealed 73% of teachers believe pupil attainment levels have fallen because of national lockdowns.

 

The maths attainment gap was of particular concern to teachers with 1 in 4 (25%) reporting they felt it would be the hardest gap of all the core skills to close this Autumn term. Teachers identified maths skills such as fractions, decimals and percentages as causing the most difficulty – with over a third of teachers (34%) saying they think these core skills have been most heavily affected by the Covid disruption to date.

 

But there is a silver-lining to the past 18 months as more of teachers (71%) said their confidence in using edtech had increased. This is a 7% uplift compared to earlier on in the pandemic – when in June 2020, 64% of teachers said their confidence had grown. 

 

With such a variety of online tools available, experts at Renaissance are encouraging schools to take advantage of teachers’ improved edtech confidence and expand their digital offering so they can tackle the attainment gap caused by Covid-19 school closures.

 

Renaissance believes that teachers can use curriculum-aligned Focus Skills, made freely available through dedicated Teacher Workbooks, to plan lessons that support pupils in learning year-appropriate skills. When combined with formative assessment, Focus Skills can save teachers time and support them in creating tailored lesson plans, meaning pupils spend more time learning and are given more specific support for their developmental needs.

 

 

John Moore, Director, Renaissance said We know teachers continue to face a wide range of challenges presented by Covid-19 in their classrooms. However there’s an opportunity too to take some real positives from the pandemic – building on the way in which so many teachers have embraced technology and worked tirelessly to upskill. Clearly the attainment gap continues to be a concern. At Renaissance we’re committed to supporting education professionals – building on the great strides in the use of technology and providing teachers with the right tools to identify and address areas of need, providing a roadmap for closing the gap. As we move forward through the pandemic, it’s time teachers were able to focus on what they are really there for – to educate pupils, guide their learning development and plan tailored programmes.”

 

Michael Tidd, Headteacher, Schoolworks Academy Trust said: “Addressing the gaps caused by Covid-19 shouldn’t be about cramming in every single thing pupils ‘missed’. Tools like Focus Skills have helped us hone in on the most critical building blocks they need at each stage in their development. Combined with formative assessment, we’re able to paint a picture of each child’s growth rate and any core areas they’ve missed out on so we can then group children and deliver targeted interventions to catch up”.  

FT poll shows 90% learnt ‘little or nothing’ about finance at school

The Financial Times has launched a new charity endorsed by the former prime minister Gordon Brown, focused on the promotion of financial literacy and inclusion around the world. The FT Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign (FT FLIC) unveiled its strategic plan to boost the financial literacy of young people, women and disadvantaged communities at an event hosted by Roula Khalaf, editor of the Financial Times.

 

The plan will develop educational programmes to tackle financial literacy, initially in the UK and then around the world. It will seek to warn people about potential financial traps as well as empowering them to realise their aspirations. It will also campaign for policy change and clearer product communication by financial companies. 

 

“Improving financial literacy for people that need it most, will empower and build financial resilience amongst communities that have faced growing inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic and austerity,” said Aimée Allam, executive director of FT FLIC. “We have now outlined our ambitious goals to improve financial literacy, and our success will be determined by our ability to achieve these goals in an effective and measurable way.”

A survey, commissioned for the Financial Times by Ipsos Mori, reveals shortcomings in financial understanding among four constituencies that have clear gaps relative to the national average: deprived areas, the young, women and ethnic minorities.

 

According to the research, 90% of the 3,194 people polled across England learnt “nothing at all” or “not very much” about finance at school. The research also found that barely half of 3,000 respondents were able to correctly compare the costs of borrowing via credit cards or bank overdrafts, regardless of their wealth, ethnicity or gender.

 

Not only will FT FLIC provide financial educational content for individuals and teachers, it also intends to lobby for education policy to change, in particular pushing for financial literacy to be integrated into school curriculums. FT FLIC will also focus on helping close the financial literacy gap for women and communities marginalised from accessing mainstream finance.

 

FT FLIC will partner with existing charities and other organisations in financial education, and become a hub for the aggregation of the best materials, as well as developing its own content.

 

Patrick Jenkins, the FT’s deputy editor who chairs FT FLIC, said: “According to the World Bank, two in three of the global population, including one in three in the UK, are financially illiterate. If that were true of language literacy it would rightly be regarded as a scandal. Happily getting on for nine in 10 people around the world are now able to read and write. But why is it not regarded as a scandal that financial literacy levels are so low?”

 

Speaking at the launch of FT FLIC Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said: “In surgeries, I came face-to-face with constituents who could not manage their finances or pay their bills, who racked up debts and fell into the hands of money lenders. I saw not only the despair that this brings and the impact it has on physical and mental health but the need for far greater financial literacy. Financial worries have been exacerbated by the pandemic and will certainly worsen when six million families in the UK find their universal credit is cut by £20 a week. I welcome this initiative to create an umbrella foundation that will not only work with current providers at the grass roots level, but it will also seek changes to policy.”

 

The launch of FT FLIC follows 15 years of successful FT seasonal appeals that raised more than £19.5m on behalf of charities and supported many worthy causes.