Education & Family

New projects test how technology can boost learning

Close up tablet
Image caption Ways of using technology to boost learning in schools will be "rigorously evaluated"

An inner city primary is at the heart of a project to test how technology can be used to boost children's learning.

Rosendale Primary, in south London, won a £253,000 grant for the research which will involve 1,400 pupils in 24 schools in London, Essex and Manchester.

Rosendale pupils use tablet computers to photograph their work and tag it with notes about how well they learned.

The Lambeth school's head teacher, Kate Atkins, says the aim is to help pupils develop a range of learning strategies.

"Poor learners are often over-confident about the power of their memories and can struggle to find alternative strategies.

Emotional reaction

"We need to encourage them to think about how they learn and to try something else."

Children at the school are encouraged to reflect on every piece of work or unit of learning.

They are asked to think about which bits went well, what they struggled with and what they might need to do to improve when they next revisit the subject.

A key part of this is to ask children how they felt about each piece of work, for example many children find conducting a science experiment exciting and fun but hate having to sit down and write it up afterwards, says Ms Atkins.

"An emotional reaction is a key part of the learning process."

The research project aims to test whether the strategy actually improves pupils' attainment.

It will be tested at 24 two-form-entry schools, one form will carry on as normal, the other will record and reflect on their learning using digital note-taking.

Children will be tested at the start and finish of the project to measure their abilities and the results evaluated at Manchester University.

The project is one of seven in a £3.5m strategy by the Education Endowment Foundation and Nominet Trust to evaluate the impact of technology in schools .

The charities say the aim is to "rigorously test" new ways to use technology to improve attainment, particularly of less advantaged children.

The grants will support 18,000 pupils in 260 schools across England.

'Flipped learning'

Another project, centred on Shireland Collegiate Academy in Sandwell, West Midlands, will test the effectiveness of a "flipped learning" approach.

In effect pupils do their homework before the lesson, watching a video or web presentation on a new concept the night before.

The lesson itself then focuses on a more detailed exploration of the concept, perhaps experimentation or discussion, and on helping struggling pupils.

Dan Sutch of the Nominet Trust said: "The more we can understand where technology best supports learning and teaching the better."

The Education Endowment Foundation said the grants would help identify the most effective ways to use digital technology to improve learning for the most disadvantaged pupils.

Chairman Sir Peter Lampl said schools spent huge sums on technology but there was too little evidence of its effectiveness.

"The gap in educational outcomes between rich and poor is the biggest barrier to social mobility we face and it is essential to find out if and how technology can be used to help close it."

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