When it comes to ICT in education, the conversation has shifted. It’s not about providing technology and devices; it’s about supporting teachers and students with how to get the most from it.
The European Commission, which is creating a strategy for a unified digital economy, claims 90% of all jobs in the future will need some kind of digital skill. Are our children ready to enter such a workforce?
Many would argue no. Research shows that 65% of kids will end up in jobs that don’t exist yet, but only 10% of schools offer any kind of computer science class.
There’s a massive disconnect between what’s being taught now and the skills young people will need to compete in the job space of the future.
The leaders in this scenario are our teachers and their use of technology in the classroom. However, with increasing demands already placed on staff and without tech training, it is unreasonable to expect them to adopt new technologies and be our digital heroes as well, without adequate support.
From traditional to tech savvy
A recent Childwise report indicated that 6.3 million children aged 5-16 in the UK use a PC, notebook or tablet and on average, spend 1.5 hours online per day. In South Korea, the country with the world’s highest penetration of high-speed internet, 93% of children between three and nine years old go online for an average of eight to nine hours a week. And, in the US, 25% of three year olds go online daily.
We are dealing with a generation of digital natives.
To cater for this, schools are increasingly introducing new tech like interactive whiteboards, film projectors and tablets. In Singapore, the government has introduced a number of initiatives to address its digital skills gap. And it’s starting pupils early. For example, preschool students learn how to program toys to say hello and goodbye as part of the Sparkle Tots initiative.
We need to prepare our kids to meet the demands of a digital world. This means cloud-based learning where kids can log-in from anywhere, anytime to access their work, or provide access to multiple teachers to ensure a ‘best-fit’ teaching style for each student.
Devices based on the latest Intel® Core™ i7 vPro™ processors will provide the best support for a broad range of ages and activities. What’s more, they’re cost-effective, manageable and secure. Students could go home and complete work in their own time, freeing up the hours in the day for teachers to focus on face-to-face, interactive teaching. The days of marking with a red pen are numbered. Using programmes like Office 365 are guaranteed to help a teacher reduce time spent on admin based tasks and allows more time for creating an environment prime for student engagement
Support the supporters
The silver bullet to this transformational change? Our teachers. Adrian Lim, director of the education sector for IMDA in Singapore told Information Age: “The technology is the easy part, getting teachers to use the technology meaningfully is the challenge.” In a global survey by Kaltura, 40% of respondents rated students’ digital literacy as very good. Only 23% of respondents said the same about teachers. A NASUWT Teachers’ Union report in the UK found that 83% of teachers who teach ICT as a subject, said that they do not receive regular ICT-related training and CPD. But, the report also concluded that teachers made specific references to the need to develop these skills that pupils need for the real world – highlighting their dedication to the cause.
There is no arguing that embedding a new technology into a school is always going to be challenging. But, by providing pre-implementation training and support for teachers, you can guarantee the new equipment is utilised to its full potential and will empower staff with the knowledge and confidence to use it.
In turn, if teachers can gain a thorough understanding of the technology and how to use it effectively, this can be used to prepare younger generations for the guaranteed digital workplace they will find themselves in.
Not only that, but the combination of great technology and great teaching will help broaden their horizons for a future career.
 Zero to eight: Young children and their internet use, The London School of Economics and Political Science.