The role of ICT in improving learning outcomes
As well as delivering teaching resources at greater speed, with more ease, ICT also improves long-term learning outcomes. When students use ICT resources, they are not just completing tasks and crossing off curriculum checklists, they are gaining transferrable digital skills that can be used not only in further education, but in the future professional careers they pursue.
How does ICT set up students for a better future?
ICT bolsters the curriculum and can be specifically tailored to a range of difficulties or learning impairments. Physical texts and notebooks are limiting because they cannot be customised. When the curriculum is digital, it can be delivered in picture, video, or audio format. Some students will respond better to colourful images, whilst some might prefer to listen to audio recordings. With ICT, there is far more variety to choose from.
Improvements to the quality of audio-visual technology in interactive whiteboards, laptops and tablets creates improved opportunities for those students that have visual or auditory impairments too. If a hard of hearing student relies on sign language or subtitles for their lessons, a high-quality, low-latency device will enhance their experience entirely. If the internet lags or the quality of the screen is poor, and the student cannot decipher the text, they miss out on crucial lessons, which is why strong ICT infrastructure is so critical.
By introducing them to technology in their formative years, they will also develop better skills, gain more confidence, and feel more empowered when they leave the school environment.
What does ICT require to be most effective?
The most effective ICT systems are tailored exactly to the needs of the people using it, and this can only be achieved with excellent communication from the very beginning.
Once software and hardware are installed, the journey shouldn’t stop. What can help with a smooth ICT journey after implementation, is a dedicated ICT coordinator in the establishment. A coordinator can be the first port of call for anything that goes awry and can be the person to provide feedback to digital enablement teams. They can also help to gather information about what teacher and student training is needed and what additional support can be implemented.
ICT efficiency comes from how well software and hardware tools run, and how they provide the necessary support to teachers and students, so feedback and testing throughout the year will always be necessary.
This is also a great way for digital enablement teams to create case studies on ICT systems in schools, so the most successful implementations can be duplicated in future.
What’s on the horizon?
Soon, we will start to see learning environments benefit from Artificial Intelligence. AI by nature can interact, respond to, and learn from the person using it. There is the potential for AI and education to work together symbiotically – if the AI can learn from each student, it will be able to respond in a way that is proven to be most effective for them.
AI technology gathers data and can report back to educators and facilitate systems that make a more enriched learning environment. Although there is still some work to be done getting this into mainstream education, the potential is huge.
Further into the future we could also see Augmented Reality enter the classroom. We have already seen this become a reality in gaming, and we can expect to see a more education-focused version of this becoming available for students. With an AR headset, students can immerse themselves in entirely new environments, experience other countries and even interact with wildlife, all while in the safety of a classroom.
What will always hold educational establishments back from adopting new technology straight away is a lack of budget. ICT infrastructure and the critical software and hardware should always be the first step, and additional technology can come later.
Over time this technology will become more readily available, and thus more cost-effective, so schools should keep this in mind for improving learning in the future.