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Teachers call for more training and time on digital learning

In a candid survey of over 360 teachers in 21 schools employing regular use of 1:1 devices in teaching and learning, the majority have called for more digital training and more time to get to grips with it.

We have been exploring and documenting 1:1 tablet and mobile device-use in schools since 2011. Today we release the latest phase of our rolling Transforming Learning research.

Examining attitudes and challenges facing mainly secondary schools teachers who teach with tablets and other mobile devices daily or weekly, it found that even the most confident ‘digital educators’ want more space in their week for technical training, support and above all, familiarisation with all that mobile devices have to offer in teaching and learning.

In this UK-wide survey of the most tech-savvy schools (many have worked with the charity for up to three or four years to capture the realities of digital teaching), 38% use 1:1 devices across all years groups and 50% in some year groups. The vast majority (85%) of teachers personally use 1:1 mobile technology regularly in their teaching.

Of those, most (85%) do so every week, and 58% use them on a daily basis; 15% in every lesson, a third (34%) more than once a day and one in ten (9%) once a day.  Three-quarters of teachers say they feel positive about using 1:1 and say they are confident about it (a third feel ‘very confident’), and over half even say they’d like to use 1:1 more.

But the most pressing barrier to more widespread, integral use in the curriculum (even in the most advanced users of 1:1) is lack of time for familiarisation and lack of access to the necessary levels of digital learning support.

Charity director Mary Palmer, said:

Although most of the schools in the research appear to have a clear training structure in place and almost 9 out of 10 teachers have access to an expert or ‘digital champion’ (not necessarily a technology teacher) on using mobile technology in teaching and learning, as many as 60% want more support and training on how to integrate using devices into their teaching, including technical training on how to use specific apps.”

The most common uses currently are flipped learning, project-based learning, challenge-based learning and blended learning.  As well as accessing online resources and teacher-prepared content and using email to submit work and access feedback, devices are used by pupils to summarise information, create presentations and movie trailers, upload video content and take educational quizzes.

The research showed a clear opportunity to increase the use of 1:1 devices for creating and uploading content; presently they are less likely to be used for this purpose than for summarising information and creating presentations (52%). Only two in five (41%) teachers say pupils had used their devices for other creative activities such as producing films. Almost two in five (37%) say that pupils had uploaded information to an information platform such as a school VLE or Showbie.

More than two in five teachers (43%) say they ‘would like to use mobile technology more, but simply have not had enough time to learn how to do so’ and half (52%) say they ‘would like to use mobile technology more but there are other tasks that take priority over learning how to do this’.

Students enjoy using technology, but I don’t have the time to set up the work on the iPads” Secondary School Maths Teacher

Concerns about self-regulation, distraction and classroom management have been raised in our previous research and continue to be a theme in this research. Fears about losing control of the class due to technical problems (33%) or due to students becoming distracted by their devices (29%) are raised by around a third of teachers.

But the vast majority of the teachers surveyed believe technology can have a positive impact on the development of a range of attributes in students, in particular attributes that enable them to be more ‘determined’ and optimistic’. When used in the right way, many teachers believe the devices can help students to become more curious, creative and enthusiastic and that many students engage more with the subject if they are asked to research it themselves.

Respondents also said that the use of mobile technology allows students to connect with the world, remain current and relevant and keep up with technology use trends globally. The majority believe that using mobile tech in class prepares students for their future and for employment.

Teachers also pointed out the need for balance, emphasising that students are required to learn a range of skills that cannot be learned through mobile technology, such as practical or physical skills. In particular, because examinations are handwritten, clear handwriting was often cited as important.

I think I use mobile tech in almost every lesson, but that is also sometimes in conjunction with pen and paper. This is especially for the children who will be sitting exams, where they have to write – we need to prepare them for that also. There is a clash of priority at the moment between preparing children for exams, and preparing them for life outside of school.”Primary/Secondary School Languages Teacher

1:1 technology has its place but it can only supplement good teaching. It is simply an additional tool.”Secondary School English Teacher

Download the management summary and full report.

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