In-depth focus groups of teachers finds consistent performance, faster boot up and quicker access to apps and data are top ICT priorities for educators
In the summer break Wyse Technology brought teachers, head teachers and school technicians from schools across the UK together to gain a better understanding of how educators view the role of ICT in the classroom. By talking directly to the people at the coal face of the education sector these focus groups provided a valuable insight into the real life challenges and experiences of the modern educator. More details are included in a new white paper “ICT in the classroom – Listening to the Teachers” published by Wyse Technology on Digital Classroom Digest and on the Wyse website
The focus groups showed that while investment in classroom ICT has been going on for over 10 years the results are not always fit for purpose. While the benefits of effective ICT were widely acknowledged, teachers expressed concern about how classroom ICT unreliability and misuse of technology by students were considered a major barrier to the effective use of ICT in education.
One clear demand expressed by focus group attendees was for better and increased guidance from local authorities when it comes to making ICT purchasing decisions. With a desire to further embed ICT into the learning process moving forward also being discussed ensuring that educators have the best level of knowledge and support possible is something that needs to be addressed.
Iain Gunn, head teacher at St Peter’s Primary School in South weald, Essex, commented, “Ensuring we bought the best ICT for our children was a key decision for me. I’m not an IT expert, so finding the right people to advise us was a real challenge. It was a significant investment for the school and we got it right by listening to the class teachers and personal contacts. It would be great to have a more structured support system at a local or regional level.”
On the general topic of ICT in education it was agreed that it makes learning more interesting and helps to motivate children. There was an underlying theme of frustration with ICT going wrong and a need to establish ICT as a way to sustain the learning process rather than as a flashy gimmick. ICT is currently positioned as a ‘treat’ within many schools according to the majority of the teachers who attended the groups.
David Angwin, Wyse Technology, commented, “Reliability seems to be what classroom ICT is all about these days. Teachers, understandably, want to be reassured that if ICT is to play a major role in the education sector that it will perform consistently. While PCs deliver the functionality that is needed in the classroom, unreliability and the ease with which PC software can be accidentally or deliberately ‘broken’ means they are far from the best fit for the classroom.”
“Wyse has a long history of working with schools in the UK and around the world to introduce classroom ICT that is fit for purpose. A range of technologies are now available that let schools deploy small, silent and energy efficient thin computers in the classroom. These support the full range of curriculum software including advanced multimedia and the computer peripherals needed in language and science labs. Teachers find that they have a better learning environment and avoid the reliability issues they experienced with PCs – and the associated classroom disruption. The next stage for us is to take this message and the findings from our focus groups to the local authorities that the schools look to for advice and guidance.”