Blended learning in UK classrooms can help teachers and students, but they needmore support

not only take classroom technology in their stride, but also have an urgent need to learn vital digital skills to prepare them for a fast-changing world, so tech in the classroom has never been a more pressing concern.

I n our second fe feature thismonth on

technology in the classroom,we hear from John Ingram, CEO of Pamoja Education,who outlines the challenges and opportunities facing schools looking to adopt new technology both in the classroom, and increasingly nowoutside it.

It’s fair to say that the traditional classroom structures we’ve become accustomed to in the UK today are lagging behind when it comes to the readiness, appetite, and adoption of effective classroom technology. It’s a limitation in a world

lives and has transformed almost every industry. where technology touches every aspect of our

Today’s school students are digital natives who

Yet in Britain schools have been slow to adopt technology. According to a report by the National Literacy Trust in 2018, the majority of UK teachers believe that technology can play an important role in boosting pupils’ literacy levels, but access to hardware, software and wifi in schools is poor and teacher training is inconsistent. Furthermore, the study found 9 in 10 teachers agreed that education should prepare young people for the digital workplace, yet secondary students are at the greatest disadvantage when it comes to access to, and use of, technology in the classroom.

But it’s not just technology solely in the

classroom that can help students. It’s possible to go beyond this by combining in-class and out-of- class learning using technology to enrich, and enhance the effectiveness of, learning experiences. These types of approaches are generally known as blended learning

methodologies. It’s a broad term, one that can range from students using Khan Academy to brush up on theirMaths lesson at home, say, to fully ‘flipped’ classrooms where students study new course material at home via online platforms and then use lesson time to interact more with other students and the teacher.

30 Tackling teacherworkload

It’s important to take stock of some of the benefits blended models could have for both teachers and students. For teachers, rather than stripping them of teaching time with students and relying on technology to educate the student, blended learning can actually enhance the role of the teacher. By offering teachers more flexibility in terms of how they deliver content and material, they can tailor the learning experience depending on the course material and capabilities of students. This means the level of understanding of the student is the primary focus, rather than how material is delivered. Further benefits could include time saved on onerous lesson preparation, which today can take up to 2 hours a day of teachers’ time.

Indeed, the UK fares particularly poorly when compared to other countries when it comes to teacher workload. A study by global education charity the Varkey Foundation recently found that teachers in the UK are on average working 51 hours per week – the fourth highest out of 35 countries surveyed.Meanwhile, the OECD found that teachers in England are so bogged down with admin and keeping order that only 80%of class time is taken up by actual learning. The OECD also reported that half of teachers in England now say their workload is

available providing entire courses online, broken It's good, then, that digital products are now unmanageable.

March 2020

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