About the site
Technology for Learners is designed to support teachers’ knowledge, skills and understanding about how different technologies can maximise student learning.
Drawing on the latest in educational theory and practice, the aim of Technology for Learners is to help teachers develop confident, creative and competent learners for the digital age. Accordingly, all the content is intended to provide information about educational technology, which is easy to access, easy to understand and easy to implement.
New technologies and practices are continually evolving. Our pedagogical responsibility as teachers then is to keep pace with these changes, using appropriate technologies to enhance our teaching and children’s learning.
Built on the principle that teaching is a design science, Technology for Learners provides guidance for teachers on how to get the most out of technology through the use of lesson exemplars, training materials and curriculum documents.
The site is divided into two sections:
- Learn About Technology – This section focusses on Computer Science, Digital Literacy & Information Technology – the three core elements of the new English computing curriculum for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3.
- Learn Through Technology – This section looks at both digital and non-digital technologies, which permeate all curriculum subjects. Particularly useful technologies are showcased as examples that can be effectively used in the classroom to facilitate student learning.
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About the author
Several years before I trained to become a teacher, I undertook a summer volunteer placement in rural China, teaching English to middle school students. I was only 20 with no prior teaching experience, I didn’t speak Mandarin and I had no “technology” to speak of aside from a blackboard and some chalk. The class sizes were huge (between 60 to 80 students), and I had to create a curriculum from scratch. The experience impressed upon me just how much can be achieved with so little. Educational technology is any tool that facilitates learning. For my Chinese students, their tools consisted of simply paper and pencils. And this was enough for them to make progress.
I started my teaching career working in an inner city school in London. In stark contrast to my earlier experience, I had a plethora of technologies to choose from. We had interactive whiteboards, a Virtual Learning Environment and a netbook for every student. What struck me during this year as a newly qualified teacher was that these new technologies themselves did not necessarily add any value to student learning. At best they made a lesson more interesting, and at worst they were perilous distractions. As my teaching practice improved, I learned that for any technology to be effective in education, it needs to be well understood first by the teacher and then integrated meaningfully into the curriculum.
Fast forward a few years and I was on a sabbatical in Guatemala City, working for the non-profit organisation, Safe Passage. The program provides education and support to children and families living in extreme poverty around the city’s garbage dump. In my role as a Health Educator, I saw both how appropriate technologies were changing lives in the third world and how digital technologies could be used to raise public awareness of the issues facing the most vulnerable. Donated computer equipment is used to teach children core IT skills, mothers use everyday tools to recycle garbage into jewellery and the Internet connects the organisation to the rest of the world. I came to realise firsthand that, if used well, technology not only improves educational outcomes, but it can also improve the quality of lives in the process.
Between 2011 to 2015, I worked as an ICT coordinator and primary teacher in a British overseas school in El Salvador. During this time, I completed a Masters in Digital Technologies, Communication and Education (DTCE), which I had been studying part-time by distance with the University of Manchester. The course gave me a better understanding about how digital technologies can and should be integrated in education. This knowledge and experience has been particularly useful in my current role, where I work as an Upper Primary Coordinator and ICT specialist for an international school in Rio de Janeiro.
The insights that I gleaned from studying my MA and living internationally have led me to become particularly interested in how we can improve students’ news literacy, critical thinking skills and international-mindedness using technology. Working with a programmer from El Salvador, Daniel Rivas, I have been designing and developing the educational web application, News on Atlas, to do just that.
I consider myself to be a learner first and a teacher second simply because I spend more time learning than teaching. Technology for Learners is therefore my space to reflect on experiences and observations of educational technology, and, where possible, to contribute useful resources to the teaching community. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy and be able to make use of this website. It comes from an educator who is passionate about using technology to enrich the learning of students.