Will education technology transform UK schools and colleges?

Will education technology transform UK schools and colleges?

Monday, 24 June, 2019

The UK Government recently issued a new education technology strategy.

It says better broadband and technology in schools and colleges will improve life for staff, students and the country’s education technology sector.

It also published a range of guidance documents to help schools and colleges improve their use of available technology, including broadband.

That sounds great. In a digital world, surely children and young people need to know about tech?

After all, tech already plays a huge role in the work and leisure time of current pupils, as it will throughout their lives.

But there are issues for schools to consider before they spend money on shiny new toys or all-you-can-download broadband contracts…

Do the students know more than the staff?

One issue is that current school and college students have often used tech from birth.

They may already know more about it than many of their teachers, thanks to the generosity of their parents.

Research by Ofcom showed that in 2017, use of a tablet computer at home was widespread even among children aged between three and seven.

Perhaps even more remarkably, 83 per cent owned a smartphone by the age of 12.

Separate research suggests technology often gives moderate benefits for moderate investment, and is best used alongside traditional teaching rather than as a replacement.

But educators could still benefit from using education technology to streamline and manage their workloads.

Cloud applications let teachers and admin staff access work from anywhere, at any time – ideal for days when they’re stuck at home due to ill health or bad weather.

Cloud-hosted learning applications let educators share learning materials, feedback and collaborate with students online – again, from the comfort of their sofas or beds.

Nevertheless, it’s not all good news.

Cloud computing inevitably creates data protection and security issues.

Worse, the poor quality of school broadband services will be thrown into sharp focus.

Top of the class

The Government says it plans to fund a new fibre connection for each of the several hundred schools it has identified as being most in need, within the next two years.

It’ll also speed up the roll-out of super-fast, full fibre connections to schools in general.

Officials understand the issues affecting education technology.

These include security worries, and the challenges of numerous users connecting at the same time.

But many schools and colleges buy their IT services from re-sellers and consultants.

So the big challenge now is to turn educators (many of whom haven’t worked outside education for years, if ever) into expert buyers of educational technology.

How will schools tell the difference between tech that delivers real value, and tech that merely claims to do so?

How do they know broadband connections are fit for purpose now, let alone into the future?

And how can they be certain networks and data are secure?

Could do better

The government strategy document claims parts of the UK’s education sector have shown good practice, but admits these are ‘pockets’.

That suggests room for improvement – and improvement matters.

While the impact of technology in mainstream education seems moderate so far, specialist applications like assistive and sensory technology transform learning for vulnerable students.

Meanwhile, everyday business experience demonstrates the ways in which good broadband and effective technology save time and money, while also driving up productivity.

It seems the government’s new strategy brings opportunities for educators, IT providers and tech companies.

It remains to be seen whether they’ll be able to use them in a way which gives today’s pupils the tools required for tomorrow’s world.

Neil Cumins author picture


Neil is an expert tech writer. He's written hundreds of guides on all things broadband!

News What's the story?

Keep up with the latest developments in UK broadband.

UK 5G network goes live – are you up to speed?

Here's everything you need to know about the new mobile broadband network.

UK 5G network goes live – are you up to speed? Read more

TalkTalk offers exclusive £80 reward to new fibre customers

The huge bonus is available to anyone signing up for a 'Faster Fibre' bundle through BroadbandDeals.co.uk

Read more

TikTok ‘gifts’ empty kids piggy banks

Children are most vulnerable to 'influencer' donation pleas

Read more

Netflix ruins 90’s cartoon, enrages internet

The streaming giant came in for criticism for 'straightwashing' Japanese cult classic anime.

Read more

Porn-block pushed back by clerical errors

Further delays to the child-protection measure, with the process mocked as an 'utter shambles'.

Read more

How to watch Wimbledon online for free

How to make sure you don't miss out on the action from your favourite sports stars.

How to watch Wimbledon online for free Read more

Fast fines for ISPs could end the “Loyalty Penalty”

But could the proposed measures mean worse deals for those who shop around?

Read more

Boris Johnson mocks full-fibre roll-out plans

The likely next PM boasts plans to beat current targets by 8 years, but is it all just hot air?

Read more

Broadband and phone companies to put Fairness first

Telecoms providers commit to raising standards.

Read more

UK to get legal right to decent and affordable broadband

New legislation will ensure minimum speeds for every UK household.

Read more

GDPR – One year on

The landmark legislation gave people the ‘right to know’ when their data had been hacked.

Read more

Help Learn with us

Make the most of the internet with our broadband library.

How to childproof your home broadband

How to childproof your home broadband Read more

Why Ofcom’s USO is more than pie in the sky

Read more

Protecting your small business against cyber attacks

Read more

Could 5G end fixed-line home broadband?

Read more

How broadband availability varies across the UK

Read more

Which social media platforms should I be on?

Read more

Will you get online on holiday?

Stay connected during your get-away.

Will you get online on holiday? Read more

Make the most of your broadband overnight

Read more

The main causes of slow internet connections

Slow broadband can be more than just an irritant - but what causes it, and what can we do to fight back?

Read more

Do you need to ramp up your broadband controls?

Read more

The different types of home computer

Read more
Back To Top