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The new hybrid approach to teaching relies on access to tech

Laptops and Chromebooks have become an essential part of the school day – and the need to source them quickly and at an affordable cost is unlikely to go away!

Nick Rawkins
23/04/2021

Laptops and Chromebooks have become an essential part of the school day – and the need to source them quickly and at an affordable cost is unlikely to go away!

Who would have considered 18 months ago that the classroom experience would be so very different today? Many decisions have had to be made at a breakneck speed, and many changes can be seen—especially the use of tech as an essential part of a ‘normal’ school day.

But, taking Covid-19 from the equation momentarily, our grandparents and great grandparents before them no doubt felt the same about changes. Most of you reading this article remembers the school environment as entirely different from that of the generation before. (Although certainly not at the pace forced by the pandemic!)

How we embrace change matters

It would be easy to feel melancholy and nostalgic that so many changes are taking place. But maybe these changes are for the better?

This topic has held the Reconome team’s attention for many months; of course, it would – we work in the world of IT.

Our collective opinion is that despite the world enduring what has been for many, hardship and trauma during the pandemic situation, the new hybrid blended approach to teaching and tech use in the classroom could be an extremely positive move into a future of opportunity.

Nothing ever stays the same. One look through the history books (okay, Google!) demonstrates that. It’s a fact that unexpected situations and events influence and change our future; it’s how we all react to and learn from those events that matter.

Although this radical adjustment to the way we educate the next generation has been forced, and it’s doubtful things will ever go back to how they were, finding the most sensible, positive road through it was essential. To their credit, those working in education have.

The Digital Divide is still real, but positive actions are helping

We are not ignoring the fact that there is still not enough money, not nearly enough resources, and too few IT devices reaching those who need them. The Digital Divide is still very real.

This has no doubt led to the occasional meltdown in resilience for many headteachers. As suppliers of high-quality refurbished IT devices, we have seen first-hand the enormous struggles, logistical nightmares and financial challenges most schools have faced when adapting to this new way of teaching and learning.

But daily conversations with those in the education sector have allowed us to understand their situation better and find ways to help.

In a case study interview with us (to be published soon), Rob Barraclough, Executive Head at St Austin’s RC School, part of the Bishop Konstant Catholic Academy Trust, explained that once they had found a company they could trust to support them in sourcing their much-needed tech devices (Reconome!), they saw very encouraging learning changes within the academy.

We suspect that despite news bulletins and scaremongering articles to the contrary, this could be how most schools have faced these challenges – with positivity, initiative, and creativity.

Embracing tech in schools began before Covid-19

Tech was finding its place in our classroom long before the pandemic took hold and turned us all upside down! What has had to bend and adapt is the way it’s used.

Before, tech was almost a luxury and for occasional use only in schools. Now, tech is used more for communication (facilitating Zoom calls and sending copious amounts of emails) and has been the only way for teachers to stay connected to pupils through the lockdowns. And of course, tech is an invaluable learning tool in more ways than anyone had considered pre Covid-19.

For many kids, particularly those joining Reception classes in 2020/21, a world dominated by tech and online communication is ‘the norm’, they have no other reference point for comparison. Yes, it’s essential to pace their development and learning – but through unprecedented circumstances, those youngsters will be growing up with a somewhat improved understanding of technology: which could pave the way for an increased demand for even further technology advancements as they grow into adulthood.

Could this generation be the one to develop the technology we thought only possible in fiction? Who knows, but that’s an exciting thought!

Teachers are proving their resilience and adaptability under pressure

As mentioned at the start, everything changes and evolves in time. What you and I remember from school makes us appear as alien beings to our kids. Teachers throughout history have had to adapt, so the move from blackboards to whiteboards to smartboards is a natural progression. It’s just happened a little sooner than expected possibly.

Parent-teacher meetings are now via Zoom, and assignment submissions from students are via email. Another adaptation has been necessary here as written communication can be considerably harder, take longer and requires a particular skill to execute well and without misinterpretation. And PowerPoint presentations, once considered ‘old news’, are holding the front page again.

A new hybrid, blended approach to teaching

The changes in tech use go beyond communication, though. And this is where the new hybrid teaching methods are coming to the fore. It’s referred to as blended learning. Our interpretation (which is guided by our conversations with customers working in education) is that this new learning style uses technology to enhance pupil’s learning alongside teacher interaction. The students can learn at their own pace, guided by the teacher collectively at the start (when setting the assignment), then reconnecting with them occasionally throughout. Meanwhile, the teacher can work with a group at another level, knowing all students are getting a comprehensive mix of teacher taught, online modules, group discussions and independent learning. It reminds us of a conductor orchestrating a symphony!

An additional benefit to this approach is that when the students can complete work autonomously,  outside the classroom, it gives them the independence to grow and be accountable. It also frees up time that can be used for group discussion, feeding the essential need to interact with their peers.

Tech donations from big corporations can have a hugely positive impact on education

Blended learning is a new, hybrid way of learning that is likely to continue.

Cloud sharing in business has been possible, essential even, in business for years. Now, the forced lockdowns have seen it grow in schools and universities too. It allows teachers and students to work alongside each other virtually while sharing and feeding back in ‘real time’.

It does, however, mean that budgets, resources, accessibility – and the Digital Divide – are impacting progress for many schools. Access to affordable IT and cloud technology is still a major problem.

Numerous charities and initiatives are adding their support to this dilemma, and we’re proudly working with several to share our expertise and tech skills.

But to help more schools, we need large corporations like yours to donate their end of life IT. When you do, you become part of a circular economy that ensures your IT does not end in a landfill. It is remanufactured, recycled, and sold to schools at prices they can readily afford.

Contact us now and see how you can make a BIG difference to schools with one simple call.