7 Mistakes Schools Make with Technology - Part 1

The average classroom is filled with all kinds of technology, from interactive displays through to the tablets in the students’ hands. There is a computer for every 1.4 children in our schools, yet many still wrongly believe that a lack of technology is the reason we haven’t seen an impact.

Over the past 5 years, UK schools have spent over £1 billion on technology yet there has been no measurable impact that it has improved student progress. 

The reason is simple. Technology in school is complex and ineffective. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are outliers, schools who have used technology to transform their institutions. They follow two simple rules. Technology must be simple and effective. 

In this 2 part blog series you will learn the seven most common mistakes that stop schools from making technology simple and effective. 

1. Investing in technology for the school last

The biggest asset in any school is the quality of its teachers, yet teachers are often the last to benefit from advances in technology. Schools have adopted a front line first approach with technology focused on benefiting students. The average school is filled with interactive whiteboards, laptops, computer suites, tablets and much more, all with a focus on engaging students to improve progress. Yet research by the OECD has found no measurable impact on student progress despite over £1 billion being spent by UK schools in the past 5 years. 

Yet when it comes to using technology to improve student progress, schools are focused on the short-term option. Providing students with the latest resources instead of investing in the long-term infrastructure that will enable teachers to perform to a higher quality.

To get an idea of how you can better support your teachers through technology ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What are the most time consuming tasks that teachers undertake?
  • What is most stressful about using technology for teachers?
  • How do we measure the impact of technology on student progress? 

2. Doing it Yourself to Save Money

As the quotes from sales companies arrive you see big chunks for things like implementation and setup eating into the project budget. We could do that ourselves and buy more devices

with the money we save you think to yourself. This is the trap that many schools fall into, and one that costs them dear over the long term. Schools, on the whole I’ve found are adverse to spending money on intangible things like implementation and support. It’s much more attractive to maximise the number of devices you can buy with your budget and do the set up yourself. 

Cutting out experts and doing it yourself is a false economy. Technology has no value if it does not work, and schools rarely possess the technical expertise to success with the DIY approach.

By you introduce technology that doesn’t work correctly or isn’t integrated into the school’s systems you can make the lives of teachers more difficult. Instead of improving learning there’s a very real risk that you can disrupt it instead. 

3. Following the Crowd 

One of my biggest frustrations is watching schools buy technology just because they’ve seen it in another schools. Following the crowd is one of the quickest ways to minimise the impact of technology because you’re not buying it to meet your own needs. You’re copying others and one of the defining features of education is that each school is unique. What works for one is not easily transferable to another. 

Following the crowd stifles innovation. Instead of trying something new, schools cling to outdated technology even when better options come to market. 

We need new ideas and thinking in education when it comes to technology. We must foster innovation, and innovation starts by asking better questions. 

• What would happen if I did the opposite to everyone for one week?

• What would I focus on if I only worked 4 hours per week?

• What could I put in place so that I could take 4 weeks off without affecting performance? 

I'll be back next week with the final 4 common mistakes that schools make when it comes to technology. If you enjoyed this blog why not join the LearnMaker Community by entering your email address below. You'll get insights, tips and strategies on how to improve your school through the use of technology right into your inbox.

What do you think are the most common mistakes that schools make when it comes to technology? Let me know in the comments below.

Jay Ashcroft

Entrepreneur. Author. Speaker. Cofounder of LearnMaker