Over the past 18 months, teachers and students alike have had to get to grips with a whole host of new technologies.
Research has found that the school closures in 2020 led to an explosive 71.5 per cent growth in the UK education technology sector, putting the value of the market at almost £3.5 billion.
Now schools have mastered once-unfamiliar technologies, many are embracing the benefits of edtech and are planning to adopt even more unusual technologies this September.
The rise of edtech during Covid: Innovations in schools
We’ve rounded up some of the most interesting below:
1. Virtual parents' evenings
Like many schools, KORU Independent AP Academy, in East London, an alternative provision school, has reaped the benefits of parents' evenings moving online, explains headteacher Shona Anderson.
“Cameras and headsets provide crystal clear audio and video quality," Anderson explains. "The technology has played a particularly key role in delivering virtual parents evenings, providing a secure and seamless experience to ensure that parents are able to stay connected."
West Bridgford School also plans to continue offering parents evenings virtually.
Mark Deans, deputy headteacher at West Bridgford School, says: “All parents' evenings will be bookable video conferences, and all of our transition lessons from Year 11 to 12 are taking place as online lessons.”
Using tailor-made software that schedules and hosts these virtual sessions, schools are able to provide more flexibility to teachers and parents.
2. Play-based learning made interactive
One school in Scotland is adopting projection technology in order to bring classes to life, using an interactive and mobile floor/wall projector.
Amanda Pickard, primary school teacher and digital learning officer for South Ayrshire Council, explains: “Last year South Ayrshire Council was offered a two-week loan of a Duo Flip, which uses Epson ultra-short-throw, interactive projection technology.
“The first morning of installation I’d put a video of fish swimming in the sea up on our flat panel on the wall and the same video projecting on to the floor. Within seconds, bags and jackets were dropped in a heap on the floor.
“Now, we’re pushing towards play-based learning in Scotland and that’s definitely part of my practice in Primary 1. We played with it, and every day we did something new, a little bit more exciting."
3. Lessons go fully immersive
At Holy Family Catholic Primary School in Coventry, staff have created a bespoke immersion suite, which contains all the technology teachers need to create any environment, place or event from anywhere in the world during any period past, present or future.
It comprises a 180-degree wraparound screen, LED lighting, sound system, scent box, interactive floor and temperature control to work with, as well as traditional props and costumes so the room can be a Second World War bomb shelter, a Victorian hospital, an enchanted forest, a BA flight to Barcelona, Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory or a space station.
Headteacher Steve Tindall says: “Our vision with The Space was that it would provide us with the opportunity to immerse children in a full experience. How can you expect a 10-year-old to write with emotion, clarity and vivid description about being in a cave if they've never actually been in one? So, we create the cave, the sounds, sights, smells and temperature then the children can feel it all and express themselves.”
Read more: Pupils dive into 5G immersive classroom
4. PE gets a reboot
Digital connectivity is also having an impact on PE lessons, such as at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School. It has adopted the app Myphizz, which uses a live leaderboard to enable children to set challenges in the classroom.
Teacher Siobhan Roe says: “Myphizz has been a huge hit amongst our Year 3 pupils. There’s been such a buzz in the classroom, with every single pupil involved in creating, sharing and accomplishing activities. The children have rushed home to tell their parents all about their ‘Phizzes’ and we can’t wait to see the rest of school enjoy it."
Other things to keep an eye on…
VR work experience
Getting young people engaged with the world of work isn’t always easy. With more companies adopting remote-working policies and still implementing Covid regulations, traditional work experience might not be a viable option.
Technology can now offer students a virtual view of what a potential future career might look like, and UK-based company Launch Your Career is doing just that.
No longer a one-size-fits-all bolt-on, teacher CPD has evolved to reach the digital age. Staff can now access on-demand, bite-size courses that address specific gaps in knowledge or skills.
Read more: Why the Netflix approach to CPD is trending
A focus on data
An increased use in technology has one notable downside. Using cloud storage and third-party software can present a serious data security risk.