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Embracing new technology in the classroom

Too much and too little technology in the classroom can get a bad rap and it feels as if teachers must make their choice as to whether to align themselves with the ‘old school’ or the ‘new age’. However, there’s middle ground in which both of these concepts can live harmoniously and where technology can be embraced and used to enhance and advance the learning experience.

The key to this harmony is knowing when to get your head out of the clouds and put pen to paper, and vice versa. For example, the act of writing information down by hand has been shown to be superior for information retention when compared to notes taken on a computer. Additionally, schools who have banned mobile phones in the classroom have demonstrated a positive impact on results and that the policy can be equivalent to up to one extra week of classes for those phoneless learners versus those with access.

However, statistics like these must be taken with a pinch of salt. Most teachers have, at one stage in their career, encountered learners for whom reading and writing can be a challenge due to their dyslexia but they are some of the brightest students in the class. In these situations, reliance on technology is paramount to success and helps to ensure that no learner is left behind. Adapting the environment and tools around learners, in this circumstance, helps demonstrate what they actually know, rather than what they aren’t able to easily articulate.

Broadly speaking, technology is something that is very likely commonplace for learners in their lives outside of school - how they interact with their friends and socialise may be conducted almost entirely online. Most young people are used to consuming their media in this way and may have never known a life in which they have been unable to just ‘ask google’ to find the answers they are looking for. This familiarity and affinity with technology is something that can be capitalised on in the classroom by including multi-media learning during lessons. The benefit of doing so within the classroom means that you can create a level playing field and ensure that every learner has access to the same tools.

At NCFE, we look for ways in which we can support our customers to find new ways of delivery by harnessing the power of technology. We invest in organisations and resources which align with this and support the delivery of our qualifications and the overall learning experience such as Skills Forward, an eLearning assessment and skills diagnostic service, Peer Tutor a mobile application that enables young people to access free support with homework and revision on demand, from a network of peers and GoCalm, an app powered by a blue-tooth neuro-feedback headset that helps learners to practice becoming calmer and more focused for their exams.

Stepping into the world of virtual reality (VR) and how this can be used in education, PregnancyVue is a free VR app which takes the user inside the womb over the course of pregnancy, showing them the baby from conception through to birth. This kind of technology can be used by many learners including childcare, healthcare, and learners at school during their Relationships and Sex Education lessons.

The app can be downloaded and used with an Oculus Go virtual reality headset, or in 2d for Android and Apple handsets. PregnancyVue is a sensory experience for the learner both audibly and visually. Whilst engrossed in the visuals of the baby growing inside the womb, the student receives an audio tour of the nine-month pregnancy, highlighting the various stages and explaining what the learner is actually seeing. The learner’s knowledge gained is then tested using an in-app quiz to measure their knowledge and retention.

More information on PregnancyVue is available here


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