Report highlights benefits of digital technologies in education

Posted 03/04/2013

Digital technologies offer opportunities for innovation in the classroom, study says.

A new report commissioned by National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) has explored the ways that interactive technology can support and develop existing teaching and learning practices.

The researchers, from the University of Nottingham and the London Knowledge Lab (LKL), suggest that digital technology can offer opportunities for innovation that can transform the learning experience. 

Yet, the team say that the effect of digital technology in the classroom is not easily quantifiable. In fact, the report, Decoding Learning , suggests that there is an ‘innovation deficit at the intersection of technology and education’.

EXPLOITING TECHNOLOGY

The study estimates that in the last five years UK schools have spent more than £1 billion on digital technology. Despite this heavy investment, the report has found that this investment has not resulted in 'radical improvements to learning experiences and educational attainment’. 

Unlike other sectors, such as manufacturing and retail, which have harnessed digital technology, these technologies are ‘insufficiently utilised to support learning’ in schools, the report suggests. The fundamental issue, it puts forward, is that teachers do not have access to the training and resources to exploit these technologies to their full potential. 

Interactive whiteboards and digital tablets offer ‘unlimited promise', the report says, but the developers of such technologies must also consider contextual factors, such as teacher skills and learning materials, to make the technology work. 

The study concludes that educational technology’s key partners must therefore work closely together to ensure technology-driven innovation within the classroom.

A+K’s Comment:

The findings of the NESTA study highlight an essential consideration for suppliers, who must offer learning providers products that can be seamlessly integrated into the classroom. Admittedly, teachers will require training in order to use interactive technology, despite the rich digital environment in which we find ourselves daily. 

Yet, there are products on the market which require less training than others. At A+K, we have a number of interactive solutions that require little training, including eno interactive whiteboard technology . eno’s open architecture allows teachers to use software they are already familiar with, thus reducing the learning curve. Elsewhere, A+K PADS Digital Signage solutions use familiar Windows interfaces for administering timetabling and wayfinding outside the classroom. 

Digital technologies will undoubtedly provide a rich learning experience, however, as the report suggests, this can only be realised if suppliers, manufacturers et al. consult their stakeholders. We must therefore ensure that as an industry we provide each other with the necessary tools to safeguard the growth of digital technology within the education sector.



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by Anders + Kern

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