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It is no secret that the youth of today have a well-established relationship with technology.

Many would argue that secondary school students, and even younger, actually have a better understanding of how technology works in comparison to most adults in their life, including their teachers.

When it comes to technology in the learning environment there are a number of challenges that schools, colleges, and universities face to ensure they maximise investments. As smart technology continues to be promoted as advantageous to students it is budget restrictions, data security, and device usage that will be at the forefront of the minds of IT Managers, Facilities Managers, Teachers, and of course, Head Teachers all around the UK.

But aside from the challenges that new technology can be seen to introduce, it is important to remember who the main focus should be in all of this. This is, of course, students. Stephen Heppell is Professor of New Media Environments at the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice at Bournemouth University. Stephen was interviewed by #TheFeed in July about how he thinks the modern education environment is changing and this is one of the things he said. 

“There are 2.2 billion children in the world and no one is really asking them how they can make learning better. That's a waste of an opportunity."

One person that agrees with Stephen is Simon Goodall, a senior teacher at Denbigh School in Milton Keynes. Simon is passionate about the use of technology within the learning environment and is a passionate advocate of Microsoft technologies such as Office 365 and The Surface devices.

As part of his masters, Simon decided to test the real impacts that these modern technologies could have on a group of students with varied ability and engagement levels when it comes to learning. The purpose of the project was to test the perceptions of students that are encouraged to be 'Digital Pioneers' and use technology to support their development and learning progress. 

Simon has been working with five students during this project. Three of the students (Students A, B & C) were in receipt of a sixth form bursary and two of the school's high flyers were also included (Students D & E).

The table below shows the comparison between the students January 2016 pre-public exams and their AS or A2 Summer 2016 final grades. 

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After months of working alongside, and monitoring the progress of the students, Simon decided to interview student A who has seen the most transformation in grades and working attitude. Simon wanted to know the following:

  • How the student felt the Surface and Office 365 had affected their learning
  • How the student felt about using a device to support learning in and out of school 
  • How the student felt technology has shaped their engagement in and out of school

The entire interview can be found here on a Sway presentation. Office Sway is one of Microsoft's most popular tools within education. 

Here are some key benefits of the project that Student A shared with Simon: 

  • A positive change in working attitude
  • The Power of the Pen - writing things down onto the tablet helped absorb information. Being able to quickly convert handwriting into text saved time and stopped work duplication
  • Having the ability to access past papers and essay materials from wherever they were encouraged Student A to revise and complete work on time. There was no excuse for not being able to do it 
  • Having a smart device with anywhere access to learning tools has helped develop good working habits
  • Organisation skills have improved
  • Enjoys that the Surface is completely portable and that they are able to use it from anywhere

Simon and the senior leadership team at Denbigh School are continuing to expand the use of Microsoft technologies throughout the school and are now an associate showcase school for Microsoft. All of the students involved in Simon's project have seen improvements in how they work and learn and their grades have also benefitted. Engagement has improved both in and out of school and the students have become passionate advocates of the technology that they have been using. 

The attitude towards modern learning is changing within schools and Kate Robinson, Editor in Chief of HundrEd couldn't of put it better than this...

“As the world changes and changes again, it seems that one of the most valuable lessons we can instill in a student is the awareness of how he/she learns.”

This is exactly what the team at Denbigh School are doing as they encourage students of varying abilities to be champions of modern working. 

If your school, college, or university is looking at ways of improving student performance and engagement via the use of new technologies our team would be more than happy to help. Give us a call on 01604 704 014. 
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