We are trying our best to get back to the normality of what is now life, still restricted, still aware that we are not yet at the end—trying to make education as normal as possible. Especially for the students in our care, who need face to face contact, need interaction and need support.
Education had a makeover during the pandemic. No longer could it be the only sector ignoring the benefits of technology to support the needs of students. I am yet to find a sector in the world who managed to shun the benefits of technology for so long, despite the benefits meaningful technology can have. We can all think of a million reasons to justify why we said no, until we need it.
Methods and practices had to be taught, supported, up-skilled and most defiantly plugged in. Hours and days of professional development went into ensuring that every child had a continuous educational experience. Educators are globally connected to share their learning, stresses and insights.
Sharing - creating - inspiring - skilled workforces educated the world.
Age, time in service, ability, tiredness. (just a few of the reasons we sometimes get for teachers not wanting to be part of professional development). All were surfing the curve of adoption to ensure that their day job continued.
However, in the aftermath of this increased need to "be normal" again, there seems to be a rush of tech companies pushing to fill skills gaps, increase the use of AI, develop more jobs. Isn't this what we always talk about in schools? And yet, it feels in some parts that education is desperate to return to its former self. I imagine the movie "Good Guy" (sorry if you haven't seen it). He walks along whilst around him people are being blown up, pushed and cars fly past. Yet, he drinks his coffee and keeps walking—education plateaus.
No matter the hardship of having to up-skill, no matter the benefit we saw from clever technology that made a difference to our student's lives. Some schools and educators are walking back in, forgetting that we can blend the reality of being back in school with the technology that can support and empower. The hard work, the uphill trek which broke us at the time, has been completed. It will never be that hard again, unless we chose to leave it behind.
Imagine if this came around again, we hope it won't, but we know it could. Do we want education to go through this all over again?
We need to acknowledge the change, evaluate what has worked and pick up the technology. Unfortunately, the phrase "we are all a bit screened out" keeps being banded around. Yes, we did have a lot, but good enriched technology is not about staring at a screen. Devices in our classrooms are not babysitters, if they are we are doing it wrong. Devices in the classroom are there to blend, enrich, stretch and challenge. Create opportunities for every learner to thrive.
With 4.66 billion people in the world using the internet, 59% of the world's population and 2.65 million people using social media (statists.com).
The average age of a child with a mobile device at 7 (Ofcom)
Skills gaps across all sectors. Literacy, Numeracy and digital literacy levels globally need support.
Should we go back? Should we ignore the simple benefit of EdTech? Now we have invested so much.
Or should we now leverage the impact of what we have been through by creating engaging ways to support student learning? To engage in the world in which they, our students, live. We do not need chalk and talk. We need learning experiences that drive challenge into the classroom, supporting our learners to thrive, not survive.
“Digital isn’t just a set of tools and services. It is a fundamental and critical part of a universities strategy, it needs to be elevated up to a level that really matters.” Jisc HE Strategy.
But let us not leave it to higher education. It should be ALL education.
Don't give up on the future now. Even just for the person, you were a year ago, spending every waking hour trying to learn how to teach online, finding resources and fun things to engage. Don't waste that time.
Pre-order Philippa Wraithmell’s book on how to develop your schools digital ecosystem at: