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Q&A: Driving Improvement through Technology

In the run up to The Academies Show on April 26th 2017, we are asking a number of our speakers and sponsors for their thoughts and opinions on the academies and wider education sector, and what the future may hold for those in teaching, and other education roles.

Alan Crawford



Hear from Alan Crawford, Vice Principal of Shireland Collegiate Academy, on driving school improvement through technology:




Which are the main challenges and barriers for creating a digital vision in schools?

If you gave most schools a blank piece of paper and asked them to create a digital vision, you would get one that they wanted. The complex part comes when this vision needs to be realised within an existing infrastructure in a school. The choice of partners and software is growing quickly, what seemed right only a month ago could be completely different today.

A digital vision should be for the whole school and not just for teachers and students.

By far the biggest challenge is managing the cost of the vision in schools where finances are becoming tighter each academic year. The range of devices available makes successful BYOD hard to implement and is really only affordable for some students.

How do we empower teachers and bridge the digital skills gap?

Teachers are empowered by knowledge and skills development, knowing where each teacher is on their digital journey is necessary. Introducing wholesale change to everyone takes careful planning and training before going live. We use the Microsoft Educator Community for self-paced learning allowing staff to secure knowledge or learn something new.

There are staff that we turn to first when something new is about to be implemented and there are staff that we give a tip to about how to get the best out of a device or piece of software on a regular basis.

Everyone is different and knowing how best to approach, this is critical.

What do you think the sector will look like in 5 years’ time?

Five years from now I suspect we will be looking at a very different set up in schools, the always on, always connected world we live in will change what we have always done to this is how you do it.

Schools will be using the cloud and storing very little on premise with every student having some sort of device or even multiple devices for different subjects.  There is a lot of excitement around VR and AR as well as wearables for students and staff to help facilitate teaching and learning.

In your view, how can technology help rethinking the teachers’ role in schools?

Teachers will always be teachers and the role that they play in school is pivotal to the growth of those they teach. Technology should add to their toolkit and allow them to save time before, during and after the lesson.

Teachers have always held the knowledge and given it to students in a way that they think fits, now with technology students have the knowledge readily available and can choose to digest it in a number of ways.

Finally, what is the one message that you would want visitors to take away with them from the Academies Show London 2017?

Be brave and embrace technology, it can help reduce your workload and bring a better work life balance.


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