The classrooms of today are dramatically different from the classrooms of ten years ago: as technology is ever-developing, we are seeing the introduction of everything from online homework, to voice controlled tech into our schools. This technology aims to not only enhance the learning of pupils, but also to reduce teacher workload by automating lengthy manual processes.
And, the use of technology to make our schools more innovative and efficient is only set to increase. Following the government’s announcement in April of their new EdTech strategy, backed by £10million leading tech companies are now set to work with schools and colleges to cut teacher workload, support professional development and improve student outcomes.
As part of the strategy, tech companies will work with schools to create innovative solutions to 10 key education challenges, which include:
- Reducing teachers’ marking workload – using technology to cut the time teachers spend preparing and marking homework.
- Boosting training opportunities for teachers – looking at how technology can make training more accessible and tailored to individual needs of teachers.
- Promoting the use of innovative tech to level the playing field for people with special educational needs and disabilities – identifying the technology that best suits individual needs.
Reducing teachers’ marking workload – using technology to cut the time teachers spend preparing and marking homework.
Boosting training opportunities for teachers – looking at how technology can make training more accessible and tailored to individual needs of teachers.
Promoting the use of innovative tech to level the playing field for people with special educational needs and disabilities – identifying the technology that best suits individual needs.
What is assistive technology?
Assistive technology refers to devices that are used to improve the functional capabilities of SEND students in learning environments. Using this tech is already highly rated as a way of making special education more efficient - it can be used to help students overcome both communication and physical difficulties, meaning that they can be included in lessons and access a wider curriculum.
Why use technology in SEND.
One of the biggest challenges with teaching SEND pupils across all ages can be finding ways to offer support, without making the students feel marginalised, as this could be damaging to self-esteem and counterproductive to learning. This is where interactive and assistive technology comes in: it makes learning accessible by offering opportunities for pupils to learn in different ways to a ‘normal’ classroom.
Some of the technology that is used includes:
- Speech to text software, such as Dragon Dictation - this can assist students who have a language processing disability with communication.
- They can say what they want to write out loud while their computer does the rest of the work for them
- Text to speech software, for example NaturalReader - this can help students take control of their own learning with software that will read worksheets and textbooks out loud to them
- Talking calculators - these devices read numbers and symbols out loud, making it easier for students to verify the numbers
Despite the clear benefits of this technology, it still has some possible drawbacks which could be counter-productive. Can the tech be tailored enough to support each individual student’s needs? Will teachers have enough knowledge of it to be able to utilise it fully? Will it actually hinder students’ progression if they have the tech in some lessons but not all?
What is certain is that the use of new, innovative technology in school is only going to become more common, especially with the backing of the government’s new strategy. It certainly has its place in supporting SEND students to achieve their full potential, from using tablets and touchscreens to engage students in projects, to using more specialised assistive technology. The less tech savvy teachers will need to learn to embrace the implementation of new technology to reap the benefits.
At Randstad, we have a dedicated network of specialist SEND teams who are ready to help you find the right candidate to work in your school. If you want to discuss how we can help you with your vacancies, contact your local branch today.