Howard Lewis is Managing Director UK and International of Discovery Education, the global EdTech company and makers of award-winning digital learning services including the Discovery Education Platform, Espresso, Coding, STEM Connect, Science, Math and Social Studies Techbooks, Health and Relationships, DoodleMaths, DoodleEnglish and Pivot Interactives.
During the pandemic, schools around the world invested heavily in classroom technology. EdTech became a lifeline, enabling teachers and students to stay connected and continue learning. From hardware to connectivity, software to digital content, many schools either built an EdTech ecosystem for the first time or made significant upgrades to their EdTech infrastructure. But with most students now back in the classroom fulltime, are these investments being used to their full potential?
The challenging global economic situation means that this year, school leaders will be under increased pressure to do more while spending less. So, it’s more important than ever that schools maximise their EdTech spend. Thankfully, with the right planning and strategy, today’s EdTech resources can have a sustainable impact for many years to come. Here’s how.
- Define a clear digital strategy
In order to achieve its full potential, EdTech should be used with purpose, as part of a clearly defined digital strategy, which is driven by pedagogy in terms of outcomes. This means focusing on how educational technology will be used to enhance teaching and learning, and how this will benefit students’ development in the longer term. It also means looking closely at how teachers will use the tech, and exploring what support they might need. When considering EdTech spend, educators should ask, “What are we trying to achieve here? How does this fit with our teaching and learning strategy? Does it help us to deliver our curriculum? Can we use this across the whole school?” Single-purpose tools that are chosen as extras, rather than as part of the school’s overall teaching and learning strategy, won’t deliver lasting value.
- Choose all-in-one solutions
One of the best ways to maximise EdTech’s value is by utilising multi-tasking software that can meet a variety of teaching and learning requirements. All-in-one learning platforms – which provide high-quality resources, personalised learning, instructional support and assessment all in one place – are the best choice. Look for platforms that are easy to use, can be accessed anywhere and play well with your existing EdTech tools. Your chosen platform should also integrate seamlessly with the school MIS. By choosing the right all-in-one solution, you’ll not only save teachers time and boost student engagement but avoid the need to invest in add-on products and resources.
- Look to the future
Technology is always evolving. And while it’s impossible for schools to future-proof their EdTech, they can extend its shelf-life and prevent costly upgrades. One of the easiest ways to do this is by choosing a solution that evolves alongside the educational landscape. This is especially important for digital learning platforms, which should be regularly updated with new resources and schemes of work to help schools deliver against their shifting goals. Looking at the recency of resources can be a good indicator, and platforms that deliver content linked to current events are a sound choice.
- Unleash potential
From reducing teacher workload to improving student outcomes, there’s no doubt EdTech can help schools to tackle some of their biggest challenges. But this can only happen, when tech is used in the right way, to its fullest potential.
Sometimes schools simply don’t know how to get the most out of the technology they have. In many cases, they haven’t been shown how to use it or aren’t familiar with its features. Teacher confidence can also be an issue. A recent survey by the UK Government found that nine out of ten headteachers believe that staff skills and confidence with technology are key barrier to usage. Targeted professional development which shows teachers how to use the tech in a way that works for them will pay dividends here.
Schools can also extend their tech’s potential by evaluating it regularly, against their digital strategy. By checking in with staff who are on the front line, using surveys or focus groups, school leaders can assess whether EdTech is helping the school to reach its goals and make rapid adjustments if it isn’t. Ultimately, schools that have EdTech at the centre of their teaching and learning strategy, and embrace it as something to be nurtured and kept in clear focus, will ensure the most powerful return on their investment.