How tech education needs to change if young people are to get the skills they need for the future – FE News

Let’s start with the facts on the ground.

Over £15 billion has been spent on educational technology over the past decade. The average educational technology budget for schools is £900m a year. And yet, while some believe there has been a reasonable improvement in basic digital skills for 15-24 year olds, when you look at the facts on the ground, it’s clear there’s a long way to go before to reach the desired destination.

Desired destination

Which one is? A place where every child in the UK is not only computer savvy, but also well equipped with the knowledge, understanding and skills to succeed in the digital world.

However, several obstacles must be overcome to reach such dizzying heights.

First and foremost is the simple fact that the style and delivery of education has not changed much since the Education Act of 1880.

Not only does the national curriculum need to be more practical and relevant to the skills our children will need when they finally enter the workspace, there needs to be a much greater focus on empowering students and teachers with the skills necessary to succeed in the digital age.

Our children are still learning like machines, with far too much reliance on mere memorization and regurgitation as opposed to more hands-on, hands-on learning. We recently surveyed people aged 25-45 asking what they would like to change about their school experience, and more than 80% identified lack of real-world readiness as the one of their biggest problems. regret; and one that schools can adequately address by offering more hands-on learning experiences and more courses with real work experience.

The majority of teachers continue to struggle to use available technology because they simply don’t have the confidence to use it. More than 67% of elementary and secondary teachers believe they cannot teach coding due to a lack of skills and technical know-how.

In fact, in a recent meeting with the ICT manager of one particular school, she informed me that there was so much unused technology in their closets because their teachers didn’t know how to use it.

As John Galloway, a consultant teacher who uses technology to teach children with special educational needs, says:

“One of the biggest barriers to technology adoption is that teachers have the time to be trained in its use.”

A study published by BESA in January 2017 found that more than 60% of teachers named technology training as one of their top goals for the year.

Technological innovation and development is moving at an alarming rate; and unfortunately, if parents and teachers are unable to teach our children how to use technology in the field, not only will they be fatally left behind, but they will also end up using the available devices in the wrong way .

The health and well-being of most of our children are, at best, in a perilous state. According to the results of a survey conducted by the NSPCC, live streaming sites with particularly dangerous and harmful content such as suicide, self-harm and bullying revealed particularly chilling statistics of 18%, 31% and 46% respectively.

Moreover, the dangers and perils of social media have become all too clear. Not only are our children’s self-esteem damaged daily, but their reliance on approval and likes from others has become a serious addiction.

The final fact on the ground that we need to pay attention to is the percentage of children who take ICT for the GCSE. Only 20% of pupils take ICT for the GCSE; and of that 20%, only 11% are girls.

In his book, The Global Achievement GapDr. Tony Wagner identifies seven key skills and attributes every child needs to survive in the workplace:

  1. Critical thinking and problem solving
  2. Collaboration through networks and leadership by influence
  3. Agility and adaptability
  4. Initiative and entrepreneurship
  5. Effective oral and written communication
  6. Access and analyze information
  7. Curiosity and imagination

Let’s focus on these three elements: Creativity, social skills and critical thinking.


We’ve viewed creativity as a skill that only a few weird, gifted, and special people have possessed for far too long. In fact, not only is it an essential component of most work roles, but it’s something our children can cultivate and develop.

Educational technology needs to develop more ways of learning that engage children’s imaginations. There are several types of technologies, such as virtual reality, videography, and writing software, that can be used to support learning to increase creativity.

But the key is to remember that technology should always be used as a support rather than a foundation.

Social abilities

One of the greatest dangers we face today is declining communication skills due to our children spending way too much time on games and apps.

According to the Guardian newspaper, “more than a quarter of children starting primary school are unable to communicate in full sentences, as concerns grow about the amount of time they spend in front of screens”.

Education technology must help meet this challenge by using more software that encourages and promotes reading. What we have witnessed over the past decade is a decline in our reading culture.

This unfortunate trend must be combated quickly. More software needs to be created so that reading can once again be seen in the sparkling light of fun, excitement and pleasure, as opposed to the dim light of school and work.

Also, there needs to be more focus on projects and tasks that require teamwork. When our children work in a team, they learn key skills such as listening, influencing and persuading, negotiating and the importance of collaboration.

In addition to encouraging children to work together, more educational games requiring interaction and teamwork should be developed.

Critical mind

In an age largely monopolized by YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, Google, and Facebook, most young people are not only thinking less, but ignoring the many dangers and pitfalls of social media.

It is absolutely vital that education technology finds more ways to empower children to think both independently and critically.

Coding is one of the most effective ways to help our children think critically. Because of its very essence of logic and identifying how to get things done to perform specific tasks, coding is the perfect skill for cultivating and developing problem-solving mindsets and thinking outside the box.

The wonderful thing about coding is that it has no boundaries; and therefore constantly encourages children to think more creatively.

Unfortunately, although the Computer Science curriculum addresses coding as part of the national curriculum, it does so in a way that is very confusing and out of reach for most teachers!

However, social enterprises such as are committed to helping schools with this by providing after-school coding clubs to schools across the UK.

Identifying solutions to overcome today’s educational technology challenges without addressing the key issue of helping teachers use technology effectively in the classroom would be a huge travesty.

As stated earlier, the majority of teachers across the country lack the skills, confidence, time, and know-how to use technology effectively in the classroom. There is only one way to solve this problem; and it is to teach our teachers.

As this is a problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, recently launched a new initiative which is helping schools in the Brent, Watford, Harrow and Ealing areas by providing free trainers to teach pupils and teachers the computer science curriculum one day a week throughout the school year. The goal is to develop everyone.

Despite huge investments in all kinds of technology, education technology is not where it should be.

However, the current shortcomings can be quickly corrected by the following measures:

  1. Educational apps, games, and blended learning methods that promote teamwork and greater social interaction
  1. Educational software, apps and games that encourage children to read and write
  1. Project-oriented activities that not only unlock hidden talents and potential, but also significantly improve social skills
  1. Coding – empower children with computational thinking that fosters creative problem-solving mindsets
  1. Invest in the resources needed to teach teachers
  1. Raising children’s awareness of the dangers and pitfalls of social networks
  1. Equip schools with the necessary hardware and software
  1. Invest in social enterprises that really make a difference on the ground

Casey Farquharson, Founder, IDEAS Bus

About The IDEAS bus: An interactive educational platform (on wheels!) designed to help educators discover the latest cutting-edge learning technologies and students gain hands-on experience with coding, technology, and digital media. The big yellow bus visits schools, carrying both technology and experts directly to teachers and students. Educators can learn about the latest innovations in Edtech, helping them deliver lessons that will inspire and inform. Students can attend a series of hands-on lessons led by IDEAS Bus technology experts using state-of-the-art technology on the bus.

The IDEAS bus aims to strengthen the connection between education and technology, enabling teachers to provide the tools and information their students will need to compete in the global job market, and to bridge the gap between industry requirements and the capacity of future employees.

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