Empathetic technology to help teachers teach

More often than not we find technologies used to enhance pupils’ attention spans, build confidence and learn more effectively, rarely is the conversation centred around how innovation can also help teachers teach

Recent statistics show that overall teacher numbers in England have fallen. The recruitment and retention crisis does not seem to be easily solvable in the near-term. To reverse this direction the Government recently introduced its new strategy, aiming to ensure that teachers have more quality support earlier in their career in order to raise confidence – ultimately future-proofing careers. Schemes also aim to make working hours more flexible, tackle workload, and make it easier for applicants to apply to become a teacher in the first place.

Ideally government policy, good mentoring, financial considerations, and even technology, amongst other factors, should be carefully considered as part of the formula to balance the recruitment and retention equation. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a combination of pragmatic strategy and accessible technology to give teachers and students the best chance of success.

Tech-savvy generation

Schools are spending around £900 million on education technology every year. Gamification, where quizzes and interactive lessons are produced to heighten focus and produce better attainment, is one example of an interesting field for students of all ages, following tried and tested methods for enhancing engagement as well as enjoyment.

Today, education is no longer the traditional and stuffy pedagogy of recent generations. Parents are becoming increasingly aware of the capacity of children to pick up new skills when aided by appropriate technology; whether that’s watching a clip on YouTube, taking an online course, learning to play the guitar, knit or code; even helping with learning to read. Technology and digitalisation have especially helped students with special requirements to engage more fully with the curriculum and beyond.

We’ve seen a conscious shift in this space, with both education professionals and parents working to build a more “inclusive classroom”. The powers of connectivity and technology are increasingly harnessed in order to bring students and expert teachers of all types together, bringing to life difficult or dry lessons and solidifying learning.

Children can be constantly learning, no matter where they are, and enjoy doing so! By creating toys, tools and computer-based quizzes that support children in engaging with the curriculum, as well as topics outside school, the chances of them retaining information are increased. Even more important is the development of an affinity for learning, undoubtedly moulding more rounded individuals who are also more likely to care about scoring better results later down the road.

Can technology give back teachers’ passion?

Yet whilst children are the focus of the education system, teachers are the ying to the student yang, the other side of the coin. Burnout and lack of progression have been noted as the key reasons as to why teachers are leaving the profession, and it’s clear that those who stay face increasingly more strain in the current system.

Teachers have a profession – any teacher will tell you that it’s more than a just a job. When their calling doesn’t allow them to progress, they naturally suffer as a result. Teachers want to teach, and yet find it hard to improve their skills, hone their craft, and put into practice their own learnings in life. Even those of us on the outside are by now well aware of the workload, the paperwork, and the stresses of the daily role, from constant press attention.

Technology-based solutions to support teachers do exist, aiming to allow more time for them to do their job as well as they possibly can. Some solutions can simplify paperwork, aid in developing lesson plans – even mark work! Speeding up these processes results in greater focus on the students and the time to focus on individual learning needs. In all, allowing educators more time in their day decreases burnout and provides better headspace, resulting in higher job satisfaction.

Career progression is also vital in keeping teachers engaged with their work. Empowering teachers with the tools to use the right technologies and build their future can be an excellent way to give them more control, growth, and satisfaction.

As one example, smart 360-degree video solutions that capture the entire classroom experience have been used in schools in the UK and India, allowing teachers to study their own lesson performance, and understand how different approaches might impact classroom behaviours.

By letting teachers see themselves and the impact of their actions from a new angle (literally), they can understand how their teaching impacts both individual students and the classroom as a whole. The teacher is then empowered to optimise their approach, find new ways to engage or explain concepts, or even to change their classroom space to better suit their style. This is called video lesson observation. Self-reflection is a powerful tool, especially when enabled by innovative video technology. It’s innovation like this, which is empathetic in its application, that can have dramatic impact on the satisfaction of the profession as well as their skill-set.

Empowering the education sector

Recent figures show education spending has dropped by more than £7 billion since 2011. Schools must decide where to invest in their teaching provision. It’s reasonable to suggest that empathetic technologies that enable teachers to grow and improve are at least part of the way forward in stemming the recruitment and retention challenges the sector faces.

Addressing the matter, the government has developed its first ever integrated strategy to recruit and retain more teachers in schools. Alongside this, Damian Hinds committed to lobbying the Treasury for a £10 billion multi-year funding settlement for education in England.

Hopefully, any increased budget can be spent breaking the cycle and developing educators so they become better fulfilled, effective and happier in their chosen calling.

 

Andrew Goff 

Director

ONVU Learning

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