Review: IMPACT magazine January 2019 - Understanding the impact of technology

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Review: IMPACT magazine January 2019

Currently, news outlets are full of stories of social media influence (some positive, most negative),medical concerns regarding screen-time and fears over online safety and security. Amidst all of these news stories, the world of teaching is continuing its quest to find balance and order within the maelstrom of online resources, revision tools, games, blogs, twitter feeds and iPads that pervade modern schools. The use of technology in classrooms and at home is a topic which causes much debate across departments, schools, phases and leadership levels. With technology at the forefront of so many minds, The Chartered College of Teaching  turned over its January issue of IMPACT magazine to ‘Education Technology: Understanding the role of digital technologies in supporting effective teaching and learning’. We have read the edition closely and offer our summary of its findings from this section below:

Understanding the impact of technology

Richard E Mayer extols the virtues of "multimedia”, but is quick to remind readers that the term does not simply refer to "dynamic form (such as animation or video”) - its pure meaning in an education context refers to "a lesson containing both words and pictures”. Mayer also reminds readers that "people learn better when extraneous material is excluded”; overall he concludes that multimedia has a functional place within the classroom but must be used with caution and to optimum learning capacity. "More learning occurs when the instructional message is kept as simple as possible”. Andy Tharby is similarly interested in the use of multimedia, focussing on "improv[ing] slideshow presentations” and offers some practical advice to avoid overwhelming and unhelpful slides. His key takeaways highlight that images should be explained verbally not through lists of presented text and to "reveal processes stage by stage on the same slide” as then pupils are able to refer back to information and build upon it.

Mark Quinn warns of the dangers of presuming that technology is always the best solution and insists that "teachers still matter”. He argues that moderation is crucial as opposed to "digital dependence” as "in schools where technology is used to inform and not trap them”, improvements are vast. On a similar note, both articles by Cat Scutt and Burden, Schuck and Kearney dive into the fiery debate of mobile phones in schools. Both articles examine extensive research into the potential benefits and barriers to learning of mobile phones in schools. Scuttconcludes that "consistent expectations” are key, whatever schools decide about banning or allowing mobile phones, whilst Burden et al argue more strongly for "using mobile devices for beneficial purposes”. Both articles focus mainly on learning benefits and not the social/emotional implications of mobile phones in schools.

Richard Osborne argues a shift in thinking from digital technologies as "tools” to "places” - therefore re-imagining how useful they can be in opening up entirely new spaces to pupils using them effectively. Finally in this section, Kristin Weatheby and Alison Clark-Wilson advocate the need for "piloting and evaluating education technology in schools” and provide a sage reminder that not all technologies are created equal - schools and teachers must find which approaches work for them and their pupils and constantly evaluate impact.

All articles are available in full in IMPACT, published by The Chartered College of Teaching. Keep checking our blogs for our summary of each section.

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