Our classrooms have changed drastically in the last ten years. The impact of technology – especially the internet – has revolutionised teaching and learning.
As we continue to utilise the opportunities that technology provides, education becomes an increasingly immersive and experiential process for both teachers and students.
The influx of technology to classrooms has been rapid, but that doesn’t mean the change has always been managed properly for the people utilising it.
Whilst some tech-savvy teachers stay far ahead of the curve, in some circumstances the onus has fallen on already time-poor teachers to learn and integrate technology into their lessons in a bid to keep up with the rapid pace of change.
The focus can shift to staying relevant, centred on the features and possibilities afforded by new technology, with less emphasis on how to maximise potential benefit for students.
Has it become a case of fixation on technology itself rather than the educational outcomes it can provide?
Sue Torr is Head Teacher of PDHPE (Personal Development, Health, Physical Education) at a school in western Sydney.
She sees teachers as being willing embracers of technology but she knows that it’s often difficult to find the time to train staff in how to use new services. She emphasises the importance of ensuring that resources are relevant and reliable.
“The question teachers ask is: How is this going to make my life easier?”
The use of audio-visual technology has been a mainstay in Australian classrooms for 30 years. From the days of wheeling in a TV/VHS combination to the modern day where the internet provides a huge wealth of content, the use of video has been a powerful tool to engage students.
Debate has swirled recently around the rate of video piracy in Australia and the introduction of streaming Video on Demand services to compete with current free-to-air and pay-TV networks.
Much of the debate has centred on the supply of high-quality content in a cost-effective, timely, and convenient format. With new models now becoming increasingly accessible, people demand content quickly and are less willing to wait to access it.
These attitudes are also mirrored in directly accessing educational content.
We are now at a point where through the use of educational streaming services, teachers can access an enormous knowledge bank direct to the classroom with just a few clicks.
A number of Educational Video on Demand services now offer safe, ad-free and copyright compliant content for use by teachers and students.
These Educational VOD services curate their content from Australian television and offer everything from documentaries to feature films. Rather than teachers having to plan and record a program from TV they can watch a program to see if it’s relevant and stream it direct to their classroom the next day.
Because of the ease of use of this sort of technology, in many cases it has been readily adopted into the classroom – it’s not a new concept, just a new format for a way of teaching that has been around for years.
New services offer added benefits such as clip-making tools and closed captions to provide equal learning opportunities for all students, while allowing teachers easy access to content that is not just relevant, but current.
According to Sue, television works in the classroom when it’s “engaging and significant to the kids. Half an hour of watching is so much more relevant than me just telling them. A visual for NESB kids is also really important, as is the currency of the program.”
As the technology continues to improve, so to will the range of options afforded to teachers in the classroom. With teachers continuing to adopt and adapt to the advances in audio-visual in the classroom, the learning outcomes that have been directly addressed and supplemented through use of video will continue to progress.