“The use of technology in education will be transformed by a new Government strategy published today to reduce teacher workload, boost student outcomes and help level the playing field for those with special needs and disabilities.” DfE April 2019
The DfE has just published its EdTech strategy for and announced its intention that schools and colleges will work with leading EdTech companies to “cut teacher workload, support professional development and improve student outcomes.” The strategy outlines a way forward until 2021.
You can read the full press release here
The document: Realising the potential of technology in education – a strategy for education providers and the technology industry is neatly summarised within its first diagram (above). Gaia has long used the idea of a development pyramid to support understanding of the steps needed to build successful ICT solutions and secure adoption in schools and colleges. In this instance the message is clear. Focus, firstly on why you want to use technology. In this document the DfE is highlighting administration, assessment, teaching practice and continuing professional development.
Strangely absent is reference to learning. This reflects the focus on institutions, teachers and teaching and sadly misses the point that EdTech is driving learning in ways that are completely independent of what happens in schools and classrooms. Additionally, it avoids debate about the way that EdTech and pedagogy are inter-related . That said the items remain a positive foundation to decision-making in schools and colleges.
Step 1 is as it has always been “Set the vision for use of EdTech”. Gaia has always adhered to the principle that the EdTech vision should drive all subsequent decisions. We support schools with the process of defining their vision through consultancy and workshops. Linked to this is audit of current practice and skills.
Once defined you can set about implementation. Gaia has always stated that infrastructure is the first thing to get right. Firstly, because it is the most long lived investment being typically a solution that might last 10 or more years. Secondly, the server and network infrastructure, broadband access and wifi are the key elements that make ubiquitous access to IT possible. Without reliability and anywhere, anytime any device access any modern IT initiative is doomed to fail.
The DfE then highlights the two human considerations : developing the skills of users (so often neglected) and keeping people safe. At Gaia our CPD and Training Services team work closely with clients on just these two strands. Fairly uniquely we bundle enhanced support alongside our managed IT and installation services for just this reason.
Finally, you consider procurement, both the process and the solution. WE would advise the best ooption for schools and colleges is to first procure an ICT partner, develop the relationship, reflect on the required solution and then procure the hardware, software and services. Gaia also offers hardware as a service solutions that enable schools and colleges to shift spending on ICT into affordable revenue budgets. Thus avoiding the cycle of refresh and decline so often associated with the capital approach to IT purchasing.
So to the top of the pyramid (or more strictly triangle) – step 3: Implement, integrate and innovate. Yes, we agree ! This is what it is all about. At Gaia we deliver this through way we work with our clients , partnering for the long term and supporting all aspects of EdTech deployment and use. This involves the engagement of our account, technical and project managers. Our user support , delivered by expert educational technologists and the creative input of our innovative studio team, consisting programmers, digital artists, animators and film-makers.