Tech companies in the UK and abroad, including Apple and Microsoft, have been urged to help foster an education revolution by putting technology at the heart of the classroom.
The education secretary, Damian Hinds, said only a minority of schools and colleges were taking advantage of opportunities to bring education to life by, for instance, enabling children to take virtual trips through the Amazon or to control robots.
Technology can also slash the time teachers spend on burdensome administrative tasks, he said on Tuesday, but Hinds implored the UK’s burgeoning tech industry, along with the Silicon Valley giants, to provide support.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to see technology being used in revolutionary ways. Students are able to explore the rainforest, steer virtual ships or program robots from their classroom, while teachers are able to access training, share best practice with colleagues and update parents on a pupil’s progress without being taken away from their main focus – teaching,” Hinds said.
“Schools, colleges and universities have the power to choose the tech tools which are best for them and their budgets. But they cannot do this alone. It’s only by forging a strong partnership between government, technology innovators and the education sector that there will be sustainable, focused solutions which will ultimately support and inspire the learners of today and tomorrow.”
He identified five key areas where the sector can provide innovative solutions: teaching practices, assessment processes, teacher training and development, administration processes and lifelong learning (helping those who have left formal education to get the best from online courses).
Hinds said he wanted the technology sector to demonstrate how innovations already successfully employed at some schools, colleges and universities can be rolled out more widely.
A positive example cited by the Department for Education is Shireland Collegiate academy in Smethwick, where the school uses apps and software packages to facilitate its day-to-day running, saving teachers “hours and hours of time”.
The DfE said it would be working closely with industry leaders as they developed online training packages and would establish an online portal providing free software trials for schools.
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