Developments in technology hold exciting prospects for the education sector, but should not be considered a replacement for teachers, says Secretary of State for Education the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP.
In a keynote speech delivered on the opening day of the Bett 2016 education technology event in London, Morgan outlined the government’s commitment to supporting technological development in schools and ensuring that all children are given sufficient access to the technology available.
“As part of our long-term economic plan, we’re backing broadband to the tune of £1.3 billion. So that it doesn’t matter where our children are – at home or at school, inner-city academies or countryside schoolhouses – they will have that access,” she said.
However, she stressed that under no circumstances should access to the internet and search engines be considered a substitute for knowledge. “Knowledge is the key to excellence in education,” she said, stating that this could be achieved first and foremost through “a rigorous curriculum, alongside high-quality assessments.”
Technology, rather than a substitute for traditional education, should be used as an aid by teachers and students alike, she added. From the point of view of the teachers this can be in the form of programs to capture data on attendance, attainment and pupil progress.
“We see education technology as an aid to excellent schools and excellent teachers, not a replacement for them,” she said.
One area where this comes into play is with online and computerised testing, which, Morgan says, has the combined benefit of lightening teacher workloads as well as collecting important data.
“The analysis of that data can be invaluable to teachers and system leaders, informing them which parts of the curriculum they are teaching well and signalling where there is room for improvement,” she said.
From a student’s perspective, online learning and assessment also carries great benefits, with industry leaders GL Assessment and the Centre for Evaluation Monitoring offering the programs which adapt to a student’s individual needs.
“These assessments are becoming more intelligent, allowing the tests to grow with the students. This is really exciting because it means assessments can be tailored in real time to the needs of students,” Morgan told the Bett audience.