More relevant than ever before, our State of Technology in Education Report 2021 revealed how educators in Australia used technology to support their classrooms over the last year. We also asked how they felt about the rise in edtech, and their predictions about technology’s role in teaching going forward.

As part of our Resource Hub blog series on the State of Technology in Education Report 2021, we try and answer the question: what does the future hold for technology in Australian classrooms?

 

A divided country

A big year for edtech, 2020 saw a huge upsurge in remote teaching strategies globally. But depending on where you are in Australia, you may not have seen much shift into remote learning at all.

Most students in Perth, for example, saw little change to their daily lives bar a few weeks of online learning in April 2020, and a week or so of extra holiday earlier this year. Of course, in Victoria and other eastern states the situation was very different.

So not everyone got a taste of the “new normal” that gripped the rest of the world. But for some rural communities there is nothing new, remote learning has long been the norm. That said, how can we take advantage of this global spotlight that has been shone on digital learning strategies?

 

High(brid) expectations

While 99% of educators responded that the use of technology in education will continue to be important, only 15% of respondents believe technology-aided teaching will become the only way in which lessons are taught.

The hybrid model of teaching has been in place in much of the world over the last year and is expected to stay for the foreseeable future.

  • 84% of educators anticipated a future in which technology will combine with traditional teaching methods.

For some states, you may be wondering why you would need to embrace this strategy that you may not have needed in 2020-21. After all, it’s widely accepted that students learn best in class, as supported by the 60% of teachers who responded this way in the report. However, as the rapidly changing realities of COVID don’t seem to be forgotten worldwide any time soon, we should all be preparing to move curriculums to the cloud at a moment’s notice.

More than just following COVID guidelines, embracing hybrid teaching and actively trying to improve upon this strategy would mean greater options for rural students currently engaged in remote learning, and for other students for whom this strategy may facilitate learning, as while we know many students benefit from social learning, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to education.

 

Heads in the cloud

While cloud-based lesson delivery already saw a huge increase in 2020 (from 37% to 63%), a continuance of this trend with a mass software shift to the cloud seems inevitable as hybrid learning grows in popularity.

Universities nation-wide have already wholeheartedly embraced cloud-based lesson delivery, giving access to international students who may have otherwise been prohibited, so why shouldn’t primary and secondary schools apply the same principles to help remote students have a greater choice in where they can enrol?

A significant shift towards cloud-based software would give students and schools greater access to technology and features that may have been previously out of reach. For example, applications such as the ActivPanel’s Screen Share can be used to connect student devices and share lesson content – whether learning is taking place in class or at home – which would mean more equitable access to education for all.

 

Getting the most from edtech

Underpinning any type of edtech innovation, should of course be sufficiently upskilled teachers that can take full advantage of said technology. In the report, only 2% of staff agreed they receive full training and support for edtech

Free online courses such as those provided by Promethean for upskilling teachers are a good start, but the worldwide edtech boom means that Australia must consider some widespread, paid professional development programs for our teachers, of whom 35% said that they don’t have the time to learn how to get the most from technology.

Access to technology is another barrier that must be addressed as a nation going forward. Laptops for students initiatives, such as the now-defunct Digital Education Revolution program, should be looked at as not a failure, but a prototype for a new national scheme. State-run programs differ in terms of what they provide and are often not known to families who need them.

 

Preparing for the future, embracing the present

If Australia wants to improve its education reputation on the World stage, we’re going to have to start seriously considering the benefits that innovation in edtech can bring to our students, especially those who may be unfairly lagging behind due to demographic circumstances.