ICT resources for primary schools. What’s the big deal?
About 20 years ago, I’d have said probably nothing. But as the years have gone by and technology has advanced, the role of ICT in education has become a major player in the delivery of teaching and learning and has transformed the education system as we once knew it.
Let’s rewind 20/25 years, back to when I was a little one at primary school (I’m seriously showing my age here!). The closest I came to any form of interaction with technology was the grey robot type things we had to program to make them move. Handwriting and sums were done in our school books, teachers wrote on actual whiteboards or blackboards with chalk, the register was taken on paper and handed in at reception and being allowed to write with a pen instead of a pencil was a real achievement! Technology was sparse.
Now, don’t get me wrong I’m not saying there wasn’t a single PC in that building, but the point I’m trying to make is back then, ICT wasn’t seen as anything but a rarity. Fast forward 20 years and the spectrum has totally changed.
In today’s educational landscape there’s an abundance of digital and networked technologies in place. From the widespread use of interactive whiteboards and virtual learning environments, to educational computer games and an increasing reliance on the use of cloud based technologies such as the internet, email and e-learning platforms. ICT and computing today is huge, so much so that it’s even become part of the curriculum!
So why are ICT resources for primary schools so important?
Fundamentally, it’s a central tool that supports teaching and learning at all stages of education and across all areas of the curriculum. We live in a world consumed by technology: a world that provides incredible opportunities for young students who are just setting out on their educational journey. And as such ICT isn’t just an essential component to the overall operation of the school, it can also help to improve achievement levels, inspire creative thinking and encourage the development of skills that will prove invaluable in the real world.
Be it independently or as part of a group, ICT allows your students to explore, observe, engage, solve problems and make exciting discoveries for themselves. It stimulates collaboration and interaction amongst peers and also between students and teachers. ICT resources not only provide the tools for promoting and developing these skills but also encourages them to engage confidently in imaginative learning and makes teaching and learning more effective and fun for everyone involved.
Here are just a few other reasons why technology in primary schools is so important:
- Extends the learning experience – raises standards across the curriculum to improve the delivery of lesson content and allows students to engage in class in a variety of ways.
- Extends learning – takes teaching and learning beyond the four walls of the classroom for an anytime, anywhere approach. Meaning students and teachers can continue to work and access resources even from home.
- Enriches the curriculum – provides access to a whole host of information and encourages collaborative working and communication with others. The world is effectively brought into the classroom and pupils become more engaged in their learning.
- Expands learning horizons – access to fast internet connections allows for learning materials to be viewed, downloaded and worked through quickly. As well as this, the use of tools such as Skype for Business can be a great way of broadening the learning horizon by collaborating with others anywhere in the world!
- Helps with assessment – pupil data can be recorded and analysed more efficiently for accurate assessment of pupils’ learning abilities. It then allows teachers to see which areas of learning need a higher level of support.
So what do you need to do in order to deliver an education that equips learners for life? Check out my top tips below on how to harness the era of new technology to improve teaching and learning in the classroom.
Jen’s top tips to getting the most out of ICT resources for primary schools:
A vision can go a long way
The use of ICT can have a limited impact on teaching and learning when your staff fail to appreciate that innovation, interaction and collaboration requires a new approach to pedagogy, lesson planning, the curriculum and the use of the latest technology. ICT is impacting education in a way we’d have never imagined 10-15 years ago. Having a clear cut vision and IT strategy is vital to ensuring that these resources aren’t just used to add to or enhance existing teaching practices.
But, you don’t have to go it alone. There are educational specialists out there who can provide expert advice and guidance on strategies for integrating technology effectively into teaching and learning. They’re here to help you be an innovator, be a game changer and be that school who uses ICT to deliver an educational experience worthy of our 21st century learners. <link somewhere to Assist brochure>
Practice makes perfect
ICT isn’t just a tool to help students develop and learn. It’s equally as important for teachers too – not only for continued professional development but also as a means to integrating it into their teaching processes. The problem is that teachers often struggle to do this because they’re unsure of how to use it effectively enough to make a difference.
Training in this instance is key. It not only ensures that your vision is being carried out exactly as you’d imagined it, but that you’re getting the most out of your ICT resources and your teachers have the confidence to actually use the technology effectively in the classroom.
Be it device-focused training, pedagogical training, training on how to use the latest interactive touchscreens or ideas on device-driven lesson content – there are so many training options out there that can help your staff achieve more than they thought possible.
Why not check out these lesson plan templates and see how you can help make a difference and get the most out of ICT within your school.
Be safe, not sorry
ICT and the internet are powerful resources and play a key role within education. But sometimes they can be powerful for the wrong reasons. As such, creating a safe and secure ICT environment is key to ensuring your school’s network, sensitive data and staff and students are always protected from malicious attacks via the internet.
Safeguarding, data protection, disaster recovery and e-safety policies are just a few areas increasingly under constant evaluation from Ofsted. From secure back-up to anti-virus software management, you need to ensure that your school has a clear IT policy and solutions in place that not only ensures data is backed up securely but also protects it (and your students) from the outside world.
Prevention is better than cure
Even with the most efficient remote or on-site support, it’s always good to try and identify a problem before it arises and work to resolve it before it becomes an issue. But in a world where your IT Manager is also most probably your Year 4 English teacher too, for example, having someone to continually monitor your IT resources isn’t always practical or possible. At the end of the day do you disrupt the class to fix the problem or continue with the lesson but can’t deliver it as you wanted because of an issue with resources? Not an ideal situation at all.
But it’s not all bad news. There are solutions out there that can help take care of all that for you. Be it remote monitoring of your systems, identifying areas of improvement or having your very own dedicated on-site engineer – these solutions can help reduce the risk of downtime and disruption to lessons whilst ensuring your network is performing to its full capability to deliver real value to both staff and students.
Communication is key
Keeping your teachers and staff up to speed with all things school related has never been more important than now. With ICT resources for primary schools playing such an important role in education, it’s essential that you have an efficient method of internal communication. You can’t rely anymore on people checking notice boards for updates, but one thing you can pretty much guarantee is that they’ll check their emails.
You need a communication platform that takes the headache away from you, stores it all in the cloud and best serves the needs of your school. But in order to do all that you need to have the right provision in place. Having teachers and staff using their Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail accounts just won’t do. And why? Safeguarding, breaking the law, malicious attacks – everything I mentioned earlier and more. The list goes on. Check out this article to see what your communication platform should really look like and how to get the best out of it.
It’s pretty clear that ICT should be firmly embedded into schools and into teaching practices to provide an enriching learning experience that equips students for life far beyond primary school.
So how do you go about doing all that? My final bit of advice for what it’s worth is to talk to an education provider who can help you achieve all this and more and let them guide you along the way.