Teacher workload – Will technology help?
Teacher workload is now high on the agenda of every school leader. The impact it has on recruitment, retention and teacher well-being and the inextricable link to student progress, is quickly becoming the hot topic, along with the funding crisis, the impact of exclusions and of course outcomes. It’s not at all surprising this topic is appearing more and more in the press and that the government has created a whole section on its website with new strategies to help reduce workload. With the new Ofsted framework being tested in trial inspections around the country, schools will have to be seen to be addressing workload reductions. Many are looking for innovative solutions, including what part technology can play.
Damian Hind’s speech at the Association of School and College Leaders’ annual conference this year, also highlighted the seriousness of the situation and outlined a wide range of strategies the government is employing to address the numbers of teachers leaving the profession and the growing shortage.
A Climate for Change
One of the government’s strategies is the utilisation of technology and development of new innovative solutions to support workload reduction and working patterns. Creating a climate for change will require collaboration from all involved in education and with those outside of it; from the government and Ofsted, to school leaders and governors, EdTech companies, tech companies and developers and those involved in teacher training, teachers themselves and of course students and parents.
The increasing role that technology plays in the way we live our lives outside of the classroom, clearly points the way forward to how education will eventually catch up. Rather than wait to see what this looks like in other areas of our lives, education should be at the forefront of new and exciting solutions that reduce workload, enrich all aspects of teaching and learning and better prepare young people for the future.
Regardless of whether you embrace these changes or not, they’re coming and they’ll undoubtedly change education forever, hopefully retaining the best and most effective aspects of existing practise and offering new and unimagined possibilities. We can’t avoid them, so it would be better to be part of the movement that drives them. Teachers and school leaders are in the very best place to do this in collaboration with the organisations and businesses that have the expertise to develop the technologies being exploited in so many other areas of society.
This isn’t just about innovative apps and software or new, faster devices. We need EdTech companies to collaborate with other leading experts to create richer solutions which perhaps utilise artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual realities. Both of which play a huge part in our daily lives, saving time, completing time consuming tasks quickly and more effectively delivering speed and depth, information and analysis and feedback, let alone experiences that wouldn’t be possible any other way.
Imagine a classroom where desks with microphones and cameras capture the conversations, body language, students’ engagement and the individual progress of your students as they take part in a group-work task activity. Your AI assistant would provide comprehensive data as to how individual students are using vocabulary, demonstrating understanding, explaining and exploring or what team working skills they have or need to develop. It would also guide you towards how you might best intervene with every one of them, in real time!
How would this enhance your ability to engage appropriately and at the right time with each of your students? Removing the need for you to collect, collate and mark completed work sheets and provide feedback after the event. This would be done automatically opening up amazing opportunities to stretch and challenge your students.
Virtual Reality Stations
Imagine augmented and virtual reality stations that allow your students to travel through the human body or a volcano or another period in time, conduct experiments and analysis or see famous figures in history deliver their speech, negotiate treaties or make world changing discoveries. The potential is endless. Whilst some of this is beginning to be developed and experienced, in no way is education keeping up with other areas of society, probably because it doesn’t deliver a financial profit for those companies who’re extensively investing in, developing and exploiting this technology already.
We believe our online homework planner products deliver savings in terms of workload that all schools could benefit from. Homework4 does streamline workload around all aspects of homework and communication. The analysis is live and up to date and does support teachers in their busy schedules. We’re also working on other ways to utilise student responses about their own learning and progress and school values.
It’s an exciting time for school leaders, educators and students. We should be working together with developers of new technologies and help create and develop solutions which truly bring about time saving, add new dimensions to how learning takes place and bring excellent teachers back into education where their expertise as educators can be utilised.