Early in August, we took part in a #BETTchat on Twitter which posed a fascinating question: Is Education Technology too expensive to work?
Given our upcoming appearance on the ICT for Education conference in Newcastle, we thought it might be worth revisiting the topic.
As the chat quickly revealed, the cost of buying a bunch of apps for students to use in the classroom is the smallest item on the ICT budget of a school. (Indeed, the apps themselves range in price, but it’s rarely enough to break bank.) Nor is the cost of acquiring hardware necessarily the biggest barrier to implementing #EdTech, although not all schools can necessarily take part in volume purchase programmes like those on offer by Apple. Aside from capital expenditure, the two biggest items on the ICT budget of a school are maintenance and training costs.
While we agree that EdTech can be financially demanding, though, we strongly believe it’s a profitable long-term investment, for schools and teachers alike. These are our top reasons why:
- Technology, especially interactive apps, can cater to a variety of learning styles.
- Big data (like the performance of a student over time) can be harnessed to create individualised work programmes at minimum cost for the teacher, as it saves them time and effort.
- Interactive apps increase student engagement and encourage them to take ownership of their learning.
- Technology is an integral part of students’ lives – it makes sense to bring it into the classroom as well.
- Teachers get the most out of their face-to-face interactions with students when the software helps them target and address the most important areas of weakness.
- Teachers become more confident in the classroom.
- Teachers also become more tech-savvy the more they use EdTech, so they are able to identify the kinds of apps that would be most effective in the classroom.
- Student performance improves.
None of these changes can happen overnight – both students and teachers need time to learn how to use a piece of technology and integrate it in lessons. All of it requires time and patience, which can be difficult if a school needs to meet criteria or is preparing for nation-wide exams. But as educators we need to consider the long-term effects of our policies. Learning more about EdTech and giving teachers time to get comfortable with using it can well prove to be the winning factor for a school.