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What are the benefits to students using Edtech?

Technology isn't magic, but it is useful and practical! 

Technology is all too often sold (and bought) as some sort of magic fix for any number of problems. Instead of a cost vs benefit discussion there is a lot of "This will transform education" followed by vague muttering about how, and so far no technology has lived up to this claim. Computers have not taken away all of the teaching jobs.  Cloud technology can be used well by teachers to make the most of the available opportunities. So in this blog series we will look at some real pros and cons of using cloud technology and give some tips for schools to consider when taking the plunge with Edtech.



We will start, in this blog, by looking at some of the benefits and possible pitfalls of using technology for the students, both in the classroom and beyond, by considering some of the common approaches and solutions.

 Benefit 1: Communication

Giving students access to messages, homework, newsletters, and even 1:1 communication with school and their learning, can have an impact on ensuring students are up to date with events related to both learning (online tests for example) or even social events (time for a bake sale?) and helps to make school more accessible and flexible for all students, including when they may be off sick or on study leave, and for students who may struggle in class due to distractions but will happily study at home.  One of the possible pitfalls of this approach to communication is that not all students will have equal internet access. It may be possible, whilst trying with all best intentions to give everyone accessibility, that the gap between the richest and poorest widens as the students with their own laptop, own bedroom and constant WiFi access will be able to access a wealth of resources for hours every day, while others struggle to get an hour with a computer at the library on a Saturday. So you may need to ensure in the short term that paper versions are still available, and in the longer term find ways to give students access to the internet out of school hours. This risk is decreasing year on year as home WiFi becomes more affordable, but still worth considering depending on your school demographic.


Benefit 2: Collaboration

Giving access to the cloud and services within it can make group work and project work more accessible for students who wish to complete extra work outside of class time. Not every student will be able to arrange to meet peers outside of school, due to part time jobs, distance from school, or for religious reasons. So having access online and being about to communicate and work together online in real time or through messaging can make project work a lot more like the real business world. Students being able to add comments, edit and add to online work also allows for meaningful peer to peer feedback which has benefits for deeper learning and motivation. Again it is essential to ensure every student has access to the internet out of school hours, and to plan ahead to allow students time to develop this way of working. You may need to encourage this approach by joining in with them online at set times in the early days, to help them to self moderate over time. Older students and/or prefects may wish to take on the responsibility for moderation of forums and discussions to alleviate pressures on staff.


Benefit 3: Consolidation

Cloud access to class notes, PowerPoints, lesson videos and tutorials, alongside discussions and collaborative pieces of work, can really aid consolidation of subject matter after a lesson. Even the best students can have an off day and struggle to retain the information from a lesson, so having the resources online afterwards so that they can go back over it in their own pace can be a stress reliever. The collection of resources by the end of the term/year will also help students to dip back in and out as required for revision purposes during exam seasons. Flipped Learning can also be used to allow students to learn basic facts or methods for a topic prior to the lesson in school, allowing the teacher to spend lesson time on applying the knowledge and deepening the students’ understanding or acting more as a facilitator than the ‘sage on the stage.’ Having a range of resources is important for consolidation. For some topics and subjects the notes alone or the PowerPoint from the lesson will suffice, but for others a video or even a voice recording will help. You could record yourself during the lesson using a dictaphone and upload the file, or simply search YouTube or Vimeo for videos that other teachers have uploaded, if you want to ensure you are reducing, rather than increasing, the teacher workload.

Whatever you choose to use the cloud technology for, give yourself and your teachers the 3 Ts (Time, Training and Tolerance) needed to get it right. Our next blog will look at: How technology can make life easier for the teacher.

Join us for a 30 minute demonstration to show you how cloud technology can really benefit your students. Office 365, together with Skooler supports students in and outside of the classroom building on the 3 Cs. 

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