Taking a positive view of technology in the classroom


Thismonth, regular Education Today contributor GRAHAM COOPER, head of education at Capita SIMS, examines the government’s latest strategy to bring the education and technology sectors closer together.

Last month the Department for Education officially launched its strategy for the education technology sector, which it sees as a ‘new era’ for schools. It is certainly and exciting and intriguing direction of travel, with the potential to herald a new level of collaboration between schools and technology firms. Unveiled at the Schools and Academies Show in London, the

Government’s new strategy highlights the important role of technology in education with three key objectives: reducing teacher workload, supporting professional development and improving student outcomes.

And to give the new strategy real power, the DfE has set aside £10 million of funding, earmarked to support innovation and encourage fresh ideas in schools, colleges and universities across England.

The strategy centres around 10 key education challenges, grouped into five areas – the idea being to encourage technology businesses to tackle the challenges and produce effective solutions for the benefit of the education sector. These include aims such as reducing teachers’ marking workload, identifying developments in anti-cheating software or improving parental engagement.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has been undoubtedly vocal in promoting the key role that the technology industry can play and encouraging the education sector to capitalise on the advances we see every day in modern technology.

Personally, I feel it’s great news to have an Education Secretary who ‘gets EdTech’ and is prepared to back the sector with investment in and the championing of technology designed to meet the three key objectives above. For too long now it feels as though technology has been viewed negatively in schools, creating extra burden and administration for everyone connected with education by piling additional work onto the already-brimming plates of teachers and admin staff. This really shouldn’t be the case, as advances in technology have huge potential to make life easier, more efficient and less stressful.

At the very least, this new strategy shows that the Government is keen to bring the education and technology sectors closer together. It’s a positive sign that the DfE have taken the trouble to think about how technology can help the business of teaching and learning in schools, colleges and universities and actively taking steps towards making it happen with this strategy is a great place to start.

However, is £10 million enough to give the strategy a fighting chance of making a significant impact? Some very quick maths will really not a huge amount when you break it down per in

available to schools, colleges and universities before even faced by technology providers is raising awareness of the to encourage wider use of technology in education. One

make them part of the fabric of school life.

Looking at the strategy in this way makes it clear that the Government isn’t looking to provide a silver bullet solution for issues faced in education. Instead, and this is further emphasised by the strategy being presented as a series of challenges, the DfE’s approach seems to be to e involved in education to take a look at how we currently identify ways that we could do them better.

get things done and ncourage all of us

18 May 2019

stitution or per pupil, tell you that it’s

which leads me to believe there’s more to it than simply throwing some cash at a problem.

Instead, this level of investment suggests a desire to generate impetus and

tools and solutions of the challenges

considering how to

Super simple atomic models!

In her regular column for Education Today thismonth, KIRSTY BERT

AW RTENSHAWshows how

you can create great atomic modelswith pupils of all ages.

The Big Bang Fair is a yearly event held in Birmingham each year, bringing together children and educators with the STEMindustries. Displays, interactive activities, career advice, shows and workshops combine to make a fun and busy four days.

This year, I ran a workshop on atoms open to all ages, including primary school students! The structure of atoms appears in both the chemistry and physics curriculum for GSCE (the largest atom students need to be able to draw is a Calcium atom), so it is an important part of science that needs to be taught well. As an alternative to simply drawing

a split pin, coloured sticky dots, short lengths The super simple atomic model consists of atoms, models can be constructed.

of card, medium, long and a small circle of carboard,

extra-long strips of card.Make small holes in the centre of the strips of card, and the circle of card. On the circle, a student can write the name or symbol of an element form the first twenty in the periodic table. Now, the student can establish how many electrons there are in the atom by using a periodic table and reading the atomic number.While this is the number of protons, it is equal to the number of electrons in an atom. Take a short strip of card and attach it to the circle using the split pin through the holes – this represents the first energy shell. For any element that isn’t hydrogen, two electrons are needed to fill this shell, which can be arranged by sticking a coloured dot on either end of the short strip of card. The split pin allows the electrons to ‘orbit’ the nucleus as the card can be rotated. Up to four medium length strips of card can be attached to represent the next energy shell, which can hold up to eight electrons.

At this point the activity can be differentiated – more able students who recognise electrons as being drawn in pairs may choose to stick two dots side by side on the same end of a length of card, so only two strips of card are needed. If a third energy shell is required, for atoms with more than ten electrons, then the long strips of card can be used, with the extra-long only required for potassium (nineteen electrons) or calcium (twenty electrons).

This activity can be extended by including protons and neutrons in the nucleus (circle of card) of the atom. The number of protons is shown by the atomic number. If this is subtracted from gives the number of neutrons for that atom.

For A-Level, strips of card the atomic mass, then it

can represent p, s and d shells too! These are simple models but an excellent method of teaching the proton, electron and neutron numbers of an atom, as well as the electron arrangement.

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