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Twenty-first century education for secondary school teachers: Technology’s impact on education


Technology permeates nearly every corner of modern lifestyles, from the device you use to check emails in the morning and the GPS that maps your journey into work to the smart TV that helps you wind down at the end of the day. For many of us, the electronic pull of a new gadget is inescapable – but what about in the classroom?

While there is a school of thought that technology can distract students from learning, many teachers are crying out for more devices and systems in their classrooms. In fact, just 33% of secondary schools and 60% of primary schools feel they are adequately equipped with ICT infrastructure and devices, according to the British Educational Suppliers Association. And with today’s children born into a more digitally immersive world than ever, it’s clear future education systems will need to embrace technology trends and incorporate them into everyday lessons. Here’s what you need to watch out for:

Augmented reality

Virtual and augmented reality have gained momentum in recent years, with education attracting the second-highest level of virtual reality investment in 2018, behind gaming. This has naturally created new resources for teachers, such as education-based games, textbooks and worksheets that students can interact with. Interesting examples of AR in the classroom include the Cyberchase Shape Quest, a geometry board game that blends maths with animation, and Human Anatomy Atlas, an app that students can use to visualise and interact with the human body. For restless students, visual learners and anyone who benefits from seeing the context around ideas, the stimulation and interactivity that AR provides holds enormous potential for students and teachers alike. Best of all, AR technology is becoming much cheaper and more accessible, meaning many apps and games require little more than a smartphone and headset.

Videos and podcasts

The use of videos in the classroom is not a new concept, but the YouTube generation has ramped things up a notch and given teachers a new world of educational resources – all at the touch of a button.

In an ideal world, teachers at every level would have a broad subject knowledge and feel confident teaching everything from European geography through to human biology. However, all teachers experience knowledge gaps at times, which is when external resources can prove to be particularly helpful. Sites like WatchKnowLearn, Twig and TeacherTube are great starting points for primary and secondary school teachers looking to diversify their classroom resources. Teachers can use video to support their lesson plans, go into more detail with a subject-matter expert and provide visual context to their teaching, helping visual and auditory learners to engage more with the material. Similarly, podcasts can be a great way to capture students’ attention and help them dive deeper into subjects that interest them. From StarTalk for the budding scientist through to Myths and Legends for those curious about world cultures, there’s a podcast to suit every learning requirement.

Teachers interested in using technology in the classroom can check out the TechTalk4Teachers podcast. Recent topics include getting students accustomed to using OneNote, using Microsoft Whiteboard and how to handle fake news.

Get inspired

Classroom innovation can take on many forms, and educators around the world are constantly finding new ways to inspire students and convey messages. New technology is just one way of bringing your classroom into the 21st century. Take inspiration from what other schools are doing around the world, such as Summit Sierra’s ‘personalised learning’ approach that sees students empowered to guide their own learning through technology. Another approach is that of Amsterdam’s Steve Jobs school, which is a personalised approach to education where children are given an Individual Development Plan and their own iPad loaded with apps to guide their individualised learning. Elsewhere, Brightworks encourages hands-on learning from early childhood onwards, allowing pupils to learn in flexible, diverse environments full of creativity and problem-solving.

While the prescribed curriculum and your school’s policies may limit the types of technology and teaching styles you can bring into your classroom, there’s plenty to be gained from learning about how other educators are doing things. Creative, outside-the-box ideas like these may just give you the inspiration you need to teach your subjects with a fresh pair of eyes and new passion.

Take your teaching career further

Regardless of whether you’re a technology expert or a complete novice, your role as a teacher within the UK’s classrooms is more important than ever. Help develop 21st-century students with a new teaching job. We’d love to hear from you.

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