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19 November 2012 | Anna Reynolds
UK schools need better information when buying IT and more training for teachers, according to a report which found £1.4 billion has been spent on digital technology which is not being used properly.
The report Decoding Learning by charity Nesta found in the past three years schools have spent millions of pounds on interactive whiteboards, tablets and GPS-enabled phones, with little evidence of improved educational outcomes.
Tom Kenyon, education programme director at Nesta, told SM: “There is a need to support teachers and schools to use the technology they already have – and any new kit they procure – in the most effective way.
“The imperative is to put learning first; if the supply and procurement sector can work together with technologists and practitioners to support this, then we will see a greater impact on student attainment.”
Research carried out by the London Knowledge Lab and the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Nottingham looked at education systems used in America, Europe, Asia and the UK and found evidence of technology supporting learning and the potential for effective education.
Technology-supported activities such as video lessons and interactive games proved beneficial, but the report highlighted gaps in teaching and misdirected commercial activity where unchallenging apps and games were purchased. Nesta warned digital products are currently sitting unused in school cupboards across the country and educators need to work with designers before they invest.
The report also called for teachers to be fully engaged and confident users of digital technology which requires additional training. Rather than supporting existing teaching practices, the report said technology needs to transform learning which means significant changes to teacher practice.