On the 29th March, Fiona Aubrey-Smith, Bob Usher, Phil Hedger and Shareen Wilkinson presented to a packed audience @ Bett Academy live at the 2023 Bett show at Excel in London. The presentation featured insights from the latest research into the impactful use of EdTech in schools and featured real-world exemplification from across the LGfL EdTech Hubs Programme and from the LEO Academy Trust
Watch the whole presentation here
The presentation consisted of three parts:
Fiona introduced the session framing technology use within the current educational landscape within a UK and international context.
‘We know that there are children all around the world today who are using digital technology to speed up the pace and the impact of their learning. Some schools are making a phenomenal impact on learning, including the examples that you can see on screen here. Very tangible outcomes, with solid research behind them. But there are other schools who have loads of digital technology in place, loads of technology being used in every lesson, sometimes by every learner and every teacher, but it's often having no impact on learning. Or worse still, is getting in the way of learning. This difference in provision is becoming a social justice issue’ - Dr Fiona Aubrey-Smith
On our travels this academic year as part of the EdTech Hubs programme, we have supported teachers and leaders working in a wide range of contexts. We have met an interesting blend where some practitioners are feeling a real sense of agency, empowered to progress their use of technology regardless of their role within an organisation. In contrast, there are many we have met that feel the opposite, disempowered and powerless citing external factors beyond their control preventing progress in their use of technology and /or their pedagogical practice. Fiona makes an important point about the power we all hold - we are all pedagogical gatekeepers as a result of the decisions we consciously and sometimes unconsciously make.
‘Every single one of us is a pedagogical gatekeeper whether we're aware of that or not. So when you're thinking about your classrooms and your role, remember that every single decision that you make is ultimately a pedagogical decision because it will be opening up or preventing choices that can be made by teachers and learners in the classroom. And once we're clear about what we're trying to do with those learners, we can then draw in the appropriate digital technology to help us’ - Dr Fiona Aubrey-Smith
Remote learning during the pandemic forced technology use on many in new ways and at a time of great institutional and societal pressure. Many lessons were learned and sometimes forgotten as we emerged back out of lockdowns in the new ‘normal’ which for some was reverting to previous pedagogy and for others they consolidated on the gains made during lockdown.
‘The advice front the EdTech Demonstrator Programme during 2020/21 was to make the most of what you already have technology wise. And that probably doesn't sound particularly interesting or important advice, but it was highly significant at the time and remains true today’ - Bob Usher
In a post pandemic world, this advice remains and is worth revisiting as school budgets tighten further.
Key questions are:
Another important point covered is about a different kind of investment, and in particular, the investment in relationships between teacher and learners with the benefits that this can bring if this is prioritised.
‘Technology is often described in terms of investment and cost, but what investments are we making in the relationships between the teacher and the learner?’ - Bob Usher
A major observation that has been seen across all of the lead schools in the EdTech Hubs programme is that when technology is used with precision, it can dramatically accelerate the pace of learning and ensure learner progress.
‘If we're not careful, we can be really quite profound gatekeepers. If we're not confident with technology ourselves, does that mean that we don't take the risk and let the children and learners use it also? Does it matter if they know more than us? Surely we are clear on our assessment criteria? We know what good teaching and learning looks like, don't we? So let's not constrain our learners based on our own capability with technology’ - Bob Usher
It was Phil Hedger’s attendance at a session similar to this PedTech presentation at Bett in 2022 and the subsequent discussions with Fiona and Bob that provided the spark to help shift practice at LEO Academy Trust to start talking about pedagogy first and how the technology supports that.
"We've done a lot of investment, but we were quite obsessed with talking about technology for learning. Teachers were very excited to say, oh, I've done a Kahoot lesson today and they were very focused about talking about the tool rather than the teaching and the learning. It was the conversation with Fiona that really shifted our thinking. We went away from Bett and tore up our technology for learning policy. We said this is just teaching and learning.
The leadership of the use of technology in the classroom very much shifted from the computing lead, the cloud champions who still play a huge role in our use of technology. And it was at that point that we started talking about the pedagogy behind our technology use and very much we're just focused on teaching and learning and this wider focus has really had a big impact on our pupil outcomes on teaching and learning in the classroom.’ - Phil Hedger
Sometimes, there is a perception that one to one device ratios mean that learners end up not writing in books.
Shareen explains why this is a misconception and fails to appreciate the blend of approaches between online and offline techniques to effective learning.
‘So I thought it was really important to just stress that we're using technology where it enhances the teaching and learning rather than technology for technology's sake. ‘ - Shareen Wilkinson
Phil discussed the power of real time interventions into learning within a class in a way that only online technology can offer.
‘What Real Time Intervention is doing is allowing teachers to ask targeted questions. There are curriculum aligned, there's a certain question set the children are answering in real time. They've got it popping up on their device, their answers coming up instantly on the teacher's device and the teachers then adapting the rest of that lesson accordingly. Sometimes within five or 10 seconds. It may be very clear that they need to reteach something to the whole class. It may be that they just need to really focus on one table or an individual child. But I think that the important thing is the pedagogy behind effective questioning hasn't changed, but the use of technology can’ - Phil Hedger
Shareen offers further clarity on how technology can further enhance the learning experience.
‘Now traditionally you might have put learner responses on whiteboards and some children might not have taken part or didn't want to say anything, but through using the technology and feeding back, you can pick up on misconceptions. But also you've got 30 children in the class and you can actually find out what's in every single child's head. Now, you wouldn't be able to do that without the technology. So one of the key things as part of our teaching and learning strategy is to make sure we lead with the metacognition first and then choose the right tool that will support us with the metacognition.’ - Shareen Wilkinson
Fiona summrised the session with some simple but clear thoughts about the role of technology in everyday Teaching and Learning.
‘Every single learner matters. And as you've seen today, we can support them using these brilliant digital technology tools that we now have at our fingertips. The digital divide is no longer just about devices and connectivity. The digital divide is also now a direct reflection of the choices that every single one of us are making in our pedagogical gatekeeping, whether we realise it or not.’ - Dr Fiona Aubrey-Smith
Phil Hedger - CEO LEO Academy Trust
Shareen Wilkinson - Director of Teaching and Learning
Bob Usher - LGfL Content Manager
Dr Fiona Aubrey Smith - PedTech Author
Watch the whole presentation here
Useful links to find out more: