Another September, another school year.... But 2014 brought something new: coding as part of the school curriculum in the UK. This is great news for students, of course - but should we do even more to encourage the use of technology in schools?
These days, UK classrooms are pretty well equipped: with technology ranging from interactive whiteboards to tablets to special computer programmes. However, Virgin Media Business conducted a study of UK classrooms and discovered something surprising: only 15% of teachers consider themselves 'totally computer savvy'. This means that although many schools are well equipped, students will be missing out - unless teachers start to integrate digital skills into their teaching.
Coding is just the start of a more technology-driven school experience - and one that does not need to be limited to IT classes. English assignments can be posted on blogs, maths problems worked through via interactive tutorials and science experiments posted online. So if schools are well equipped, what's missing in getting teachers up to speed? The answer is unorthodox: learning from the students themselves.
Classrooms are full of tech experts, with the new generation growing up on Samsung Galaxies, YouTube, Facebook, iPads, Snapchat, WhatsApp... using technology comes as a natural instinct to them. But the fact is, digital is not just limited to leisure - it is becoming a critical part of every single aspect of our lives. We know that students will have a thing or two to say about how to integrate technology into learning, which is why we launched Generation Tech - the first state-of-the nation review into digital in education.
If both teachers and students are keen to include digital into learning, we need to encourage more of these discussions so they can interact and learn via technology together. It is not about learning new, complex systems - it is about finding what's already at hand and integrating the tools that students are already excellent at using. The benefits will be felt by students not only in the future - but also immediately, as a quarter of teachers we surveyed said that technology improved exam results by at least one grade.
This is a brilliant opportunity for students as well as teachers. If the new generation is learning how to make loom bands on YouTube, who says they can't learn about atoms on tablets, or use translation apps in their language classes?
Innovation is what has always made the UK stand out - and teaching students nimbly and creatively will empower the next generation. It is in their teachers' hands - and the smartboards are there to help them.