Press release: ‘Impact of New Technologies’ research

This resarch appears to confirm what we’ve always known… many learners ‘power down’ at the school gates. The digital technologies and software they access in the rest of their learning and social lives is denied them.

Impact of New Technologies’ research

 1 April 2011: An increasing majority of schools feel they are now definitely unable, or unlikely to be able, to maintain planned new technologies  investments for 2011/12 (56 per cent primary, 65 per cent secondary schools) a recent survey has revealed.

 The British Educational Suppliers Association’s (BESA) findings come from the annual survey into the views of English Maintained Schools on a range of new technologies used by teachers and students. The highly anticipated research, ‘Impact of New Technologies’ carried out in conjunction with the National Education Research Panel (NERP) provides analysis and insight into the level of use of a variety of new hardware and software technologies in schools now, as well as anticipated use, by 2012.

 The 2011 survey of 434 UK schools (246 primary, 188 secondary) which was conducted in February 2011 found that the new financial autonomy given to schools is resulting in schools focusing on purchasing what they perceive to be value for money.

 Unsurprisingly, in a time of budget constraint, the research identified the anticipated prominence of free content across primary and secondary schools in 2012. However, unexpected findings include primary school’s positive view on the use of visualisers (75 per cent of primary schools and 68 per cent of secondary schools currently use the technology while 85 per cent and 66 per cent respectively, forecast their use by 2012). More traditional technologies such as laptops were considered to be very useful to 49 per cent of primary schools and 34 per cent of secondary schools while budgetary constraints appear to have led many schools to feel they are unable to afford innovative new products and approaches.  Fewer than 30 per cent identified a high level of usefulness of netbooks and the majority of primary schools considered smartphones to be of very little or no use at all. The report also highlighted the fact that despite approximately 75 per cent of teachers and the majority of children using social media to communicate, 88 per cent of primary schools and 79 per cent of secondary schools confirmed that they made no use of the tool in the classroom.

 The report shows that it is likely that there will be significant differences between those emerging technologies that enhance and replace technology (e.g. tablets replacing netbooks) and those technologies that are a new way to teach and learn (e.g. learning platforms), but that do not necessarily replace any existing technology (e.g. learning platforms). In addition, new technologies that replace solutions with a cost-effective alternative (e.g. cloud-computing) are likely to do well, while technologies that enhance, but do so at a higher cost (e.g. large LCD displays replacing IWBs) are more likely to struggle to compete.

 Ray Barker, director, BESA comments, ‘The challenge offered by the results of this survey is all about the continuation of innovation in ICT, both in product development and in classroom practice.

 The perception of educators that they have no money for ICT any more is obviously leading to many thinking that they cannot try innovative new products and approaches – the apparent lack of interest in smartphones is an example – which is a shame for both the industry who have always responded by creating new, innovative products – and for pupils who have always responded to these. The growth in the use of free digital content also reflects this.’

 He continues, ‘Schools do still have money for all kinds of resources but this is now in a centralised ‘pot of money’. The era of ring-fenced grants for ICT is over. Schools now have to make their own purchasing decisions based on their school development plan. What resources do they need to achieve their outcomes? If one of their challenges is to improve standards in boys’ reading, for example, what approach will they choose? They could buy a traditional reading scheme or they could invest in iPads to enthuse young people to read e-books. That is now their choice. It is really about a schools’ perception of value for money.

 The majority of schools apparently make no use of social networking sites, yet young people use these all the time – another reflection on how perceptions of ICT can create a gap between what schools teach and how the pupils actually learn now.’

 Other findings

  • Learning Platform delivered digital content

The previous government invested more than £5 billion on school’s technology infrastructure and services including funding for all schools to introduce a learning platform (an online integrated learning and management system that provides schools with internal and external access to learning resources and student data) by 2010. Today’s research identified the fact that despite this investment only 1 per cent of schools are making extensive use of their learning platform’s digital content, with 17% making extensive use by 2012.

  • Parental communication

Schools are far more likely to use email as a way of communicating with parents. While 13 per cent of primary schools indicate no use of email for this purpose, two-thirds indicate some or extensive use. The level of use is significantly higher across secondary schools. Only 3 per cent indicate no use, while 83 per cent indicate some or extensive use. The use of texting (SMS) is also used by the majority of secondary schools as a communication tool. Nearly two thirds indicate some or extensive use.


About BESA

BESA, the British Educational Suppliers Association, is the trade association representing over 300 educational suppliers in the UK, including manufacturers and distributors of equipment, materials, books, consumables, furniture, technology, ICT hardware and digital-content related services to the education market.

With over 75 years of experience, BESA offers unparalleled support, research, events and advice on both UK and International markets, and the future of the education supplies industry.  BESA is focused on promoting and providing support and advice to their members, the industry and to schools.

BESA has a Code of Practice to which all members must adhere, along with a stringent membership process, both of which assure buyers of a high standard of quality in both product and customer service.

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