How can a focus on pedagogy improve the impact of technology for Cambridge learners?

Summit of Education 2019

How can a focus on pedagogy improve the impact of technology for learners?

Video transcript

[00:00:05] How can a focus on pedagogy improve the impact of technology for Cambridge learners? I'm Andrew Field, e-learning manager for Cambridge International. Joined by my colleagues, Lynda and Liz, who'll introduce themselves further later. We'd like to explore a number of issues to do with the real impact of technology. To start with this quote from a Cambridge International principal from South America really asking one of the key questions. So what difference has technology really made? As you can see, genuinely, is it possible to identify improved learning outcomes for students? What impact has technology really made? And what we'd like to start by doing is considering what you actually think. We're going to provide for you a few examples of technology used in education and it's really important to consider what impact these examples have really had. We're going to show you those examples, and we'd like to consider for one minute, 30 seconds about the real impact each one has had. Now, some of these may be when you yourself were a learner. Some of them may be things that you've used in the classroom as a teacher. But what difference have they made to learners in your setting? To start, the microcomputer in the early 1980s, as an example here, the BBC Micro. What impact has this really had for your learning? Secondly, we'd like you to consider the interactive whiteboard so really popular in the early 2000s. What difference have these interactive whiteboards really made to classrooms around the world? And then the third example, tablets, here personified by an iPad, really popular, really interesting use of these sort of mainly from 2010 onwards. But what difference have these devices really made? So within our session at the summit of education, we gathered lots of views about this, audience participation in three sessions we ran, and hopefully you too will have considered a few ideas. Some of the examples that we did hear from were things such as this. It's really easy to be critical about technology and think, well, why do I need technology? What difference has it actually made? It's easy to criticize and say here's a solution looking for a problem. Similarly, those focused very much on budget and the impact of these things could accuse technology of being a waste of money and really genuinely a massively genuine point that if you don't spend money on teacher training or actually just give teachers the time to explore how this technology might be used, time for teachers to think about and use their ideas and consider how it could be made better, the learning discovery within the lessons, how that can be delivered more effectively. So it's about how these devices can be used and genuinely teaching and learning is complex. You're not going to be able to spend some money and transform your classroom. You really have to consider these thoughts. Think about how devices might be used. That's the real focus of what we're considering. Previously, technology used to be sold because it enthuses learners. In 2019 that cannot be a justification for the use of technology. Great lessons enthuse learners, not technology. It's not about engaging people with a quick starter activity or grabbing their attention because they're bored. This is about deep use of technology, how it can really be used to transform lessons and learning. And in 2019 we can't be talking about things like 21st century learners. Learners walk into the classroom knowing about technology. It's not special to use technology. It's about how it can actually be used. [00:08:46] So my name's Dr Liz Duncan and I work in the development division alongside Andrew and Lynda. I'm just gonna spend a bit of time getting us to think about how we can actually go away and validate some of the claims made often by the technology companies. So to do that, it can be really, really useful to identify researchers actually trying to measure the impact of technology in classrooms. And this research I've just got on screen here, published by the OECD this year is exactly looking at that. It's looking at change in classrooms across all OECD countries for the last 10 years. But before we go into that in any more detail, it's worth just thinking about a couple of points. In this research they use the term innovation, but in this context, that's reflected about how much change has gone on in classrooms. And the second is that just because there's innovation, i.e. change, doesn't necessarily mean that that's better or worse. So what does this research tell us? Well, the key element is that on average, there's only really been moderate change in OECD classes in the last decade. And what that means is that whilst classes certainly are different to what they were 10 years ago, they're still very easily recognisable. So what have been the big innovations that this research has identified? Well, there were four key areas. The largest change was in independent knowledge acquisition of students. The second largest were homework practices and how teachers were working with students with homework in the classroom. And the third and fourth, perhaps a little surprisingly, were rote learning and active learning practices. But where does technology fit into these innovations? Well, certainly the change seen in students ability to independently acquire knowledge has been supported massively by access to digital technologies. But what's surprising, though, is really of the four main innovations seen across OECD classrooms is this is the only one that's really been influenced in any way by technology. And even then, the role of the technology seems to have been facilitative rather than transformative. Where technology seems to be having the greatest impact, therefore, is where it's supporting good classroom practice. I'm now going to pass you over to Lynda who's going to talk about this in more detail. [00:11:10] So I'm Lynda Bramwell. I'm the school liaison manager for Cambridge International. And I'm lucky enough to, as part of my job, spend quite a lot of time in schools all around the world, sitting at the back of classrooms and listening and seeing and talking to teachers and just getting their experiences. There's quite a lot of pressure, as we know, on teachers around technology. And what we're gonna look at here is a video of a Cambridge International teacher talking about some really impactful use of technology. And I think one of the things that you you'll hear from the way this teacher speaks is, you know, there's this way of using technology where it's coming from the teacher and the teacher knowing the students, rather than something kind of top down where technology is kind of given to the teachers, unlike they're made to use it and it's made to make things better. Actually the technology is most impactful when it's the other way round, when you've got experienced teachers using technology as a tool alongside all the other things that they're using and then understanding their learners and understanding when to intervene with technology. So this is Lucy, she's an IGCSE art teacher. And I think what would be really nice is for you just to have a listen to what she's got to say and then we'll reflect on it. [00:12:35] Right. Okay. So I've been asked to come and talk about how I use technology in art lessons. So I have mainly used technology in the context of year 10 and 11 art lessons in school. And I've mainly used iPads and the software that you have on an iPad to enable you to draw with an i pencil on on the surface of the screen. So there are two different ways that I have used it. Mainly it's been used with students who were made maybe stuck on how to develop their work and they had produced some observational drawings or some photography or some studies, and they were really stuck on how to then develop their work. So importing their images onto the iPods and then letting them draw on top of their work, changing things, was a really fantastic way of developing work and making it go on to the next part of their project, and the other way was also to encourage less able students to actually draw. So a paper and pencil, a blank sheet of paper and a pencil is sometimes quite an intimidating thing, whereas something as familiar to students as an iPad and the tools that they use breaks down that kind of anxiety and is very familiar to them. So they were able to engage in that really, really quickly. And the act of drawing with an i pencil on top of the screen meant that they were able to access their creativity in a way that they felt very safe in. And they would they would develop their work. And it was fantastic. So the two areas that I felt that their work using the iPad was really good in, was in a design context, and then also in a fine art context. So in a design context, particularly when students were designing clothing or products, it was very quick for them to then go in and import their work and then make changes like quickly changing the colour of something or responding to feedback and very quickly making very subtle changes to their drawings and improving their design work. So, for example, in fashion design, if somebody was responding to a fashion design question and they had their preliminary sketches, they could then work on those on the iPad and very quickly put in patterns that they had designed into the context of their drawing, or change colours very quickly and then keep a record of everything. So they didn't have to laboriously redraw their whole ideas. They were able to very quickly do it and then save it and then either print it out or save it digitally. It was a fantastic fit for that. And in the design context, the other way it has been used is to create patterns. So there's always in the exam paper, in the design paper, there's always a sort of a question to design a repeat pattern. And it's been fantastic for that because it's very difficult to design a repeat pattern just using paper but to use it like this it was very quick for students to see their pattern working in a first hand way like that. And it was actually fantastic and also changing the colour very quickly, just dragging and dropping different colours in and making decisions there and then was brilliant for that. In terms of it being in an a fine art context. I found that particularly with printmaking, bizarrely, this was a really wonderful way of enabling students to develop their printmaking by using the prints that have maybe not gone so well, by taking a photograph of them, putting them on to their iPads and then directly working then on top of their prints and actually developing that print and enabling them to change it into something else, either then it becomes a standalone piece of work that was not a print anymore or it enabled them to change textures and lines and colours that they then could, for example, cut a new piece of lino that was better than the one that they'd done before because they developed that idea a little bit. So rather than trying out 10 or 20 pieces of lino, they were able to change that just drawing directly on top of one of their prints on the screen. And of course, that also was very good for paintings as well. So if somebody did a beautiful watercolour, but they were stuck on what to do with that later on, how to develop that into other ideas, they were able to put it onto the screen and then using all the different brushes and all the different techniques just to work on that a little bit more and develop it, ready to then maybe, turn that series of little watercolour studies into a bigger painting using acrylic or collage or whatever medium they wanted to change it into or even change that into a series of prints. So it was really fantastically invaluable for that. The only thing I would say is, of course it's never a replacement for core skills. So those core skills that we teach, an observational study from a first, from a primary source, which is key to everything - perspective about how to create form and shadow and lines and all of those things that we teach in art lessons. They are the core skills, and technology and in particular using this iPad is not a replacement for that. It's to go alongside as an enhancement and just the way of letting students try something different and develop their work in a way that might not have been possible if they didn't give this a whirl. [00:19:22] Okay. So what I'd like you to do now is just try and have a think about how this might resonate in your setting. Is this the way that technology is being used with your learners or is it kind of a slightly different approach? So if you just kind of have a bit of a think about what Lucy said and what you think about that. [00:20:44] So what the schools need to do. Firstly, it's important to challenge promises. We need to be careful about promises from technology companies. Technology companies are brilliant, but they are selling technology. They're not delivering education. Effective use of technology is fantastic for education. The technology cannot be separated from everything else that teachers and learners have available. Technology is a tool for learning where teachers need the time and freedom to choose, when to make best use of it, and to similarly choose when not to make use of it. Teachers and learners should actually be encouraged to quantify the impact of technology within the classroom. If technology doesn't work, it shouldn't just be seen as a failure. You should explore how it's been used, why it hasn't had an effective impact and then use that as part of the education. Technology itself needs to be part of a range of resources and support materials. We need to allow learners to lead to choose and justify their choice of technology. They need to make use of technology when there is clear added value. It's about empowering teachers and learners. Teachers need time and support for professional development, planning, preparation and opportunities to identify where technology adds value and where it detracts. In short, it's essential we focus on the learning, not the technology. A focus on pedagogy is essential for real impact. We must involve teachers and bring them on the journey using their skills, expertise and experience.

Lynda Bramwell, Liz Duncombe and Andrew Field of Cambridge Assessment International Education provide an overview of their summit session on how a focus on teaching can improve the impact of technology for learners.

About the presenters

Lynda Bramwell

Lynda Bramwell has been School Liaison Manager at Cambridge International since 2014. Previously she worked for Cambridge Assessment, in educational publishing, and as an EFL teacher. She is passionate about listening to teachers and feeding their requirements into product and qualification development.

Andrew Field

Andrew Field has been e-Learning Manager at Cambridge Assessment International Education since 2015. He has 15 years’ teaching experience, originally as a history teacher then as Head of Faculty for computing and IT. He was an Adobe Educational Leader for 10 years, developing a range of e-Learning materials and resources. His focus is on the added value of technology – making positive use of digital to have clear impact for teaching and learning.

Liz Duncombe

Liz Duncombe joined Cambridge International in 2015 and works in curriculum support, producing materials to help teachers effectively deliver our programmes. She was a teacher for 11 years in UK secondary schools, and has recently completed her doctoral research into student experience of transition into the sixth form.

A focus on technology has driven the use of edtech in the classroom, but there has been an insufficient concentration on teaching. In the last 30 years we have seen a range of technological innovations offering huge potential, but nothing has sufficiently delivered transformational impact.

Why is this? Is the edtech fit for purpose? How can schools move forward effectively?