X Close

Institute of Education Blog

Home

Expert opinion from academics at the UCL Institute of Education

Menu

Archive for the 'ICT in education' Category

Universities: learning outside the lecture hall

Blog Editor, IOE Digital22 September 2021

Allison Littlejohn.

Lockdown led to the largest transformation of teaching in the history of UK higher education. In March 2020, the entire university workforce had to transition to working online. This was remarkable transformation for institutions that, founded on tradition and convention, tend to be slow to change.  As the 2021-22 academic year begins, record numbers of UK students are about to enter our universities once again.

National reports suggest that both students and staff found the lack of face-to-face learning and social interactions over the past year or so difficult. Enforced isolation during lockdown had an impact on student mental health, while students’ representatives have run campaigns questioning the value of online education under lockdown conditions and called for a refund on student fees. They have been arguing for a return to face-to-face lectures and on-campus social activities.

As for staff, our study of the experiences of university staff as they moved to online teaching during lockdown found that academics, especially those with little prior experience of digital education, had to invest considerable extra time redesigning courses, recording lectures and connecting with students to provide (more…)

Year 6’s: ‘ready, strong and brave’ for the transition to secondary in the time of Covid

Blog Editor, IOE Digital2 June 2021

Katya Saville and Sandra Leaton Gray.

Since the second lockdown lifted in March and all students were able to return to school, much attention has been placed on the need for schools to help students ‘catch up’ on lost learning. However, our research this year found that the pandemic’s impact on the learning of students in England who were moving from primary to secondary school (Year 7) varied widely.

While many teachers in our study reported that a reasonable degree of learning continued during the first lockdown, almost a third found a wide variation between students. For instance, in interview, one teacher contrasted the difficulties for students in large families with little technological access with the accelerated learning which occurred for other vulnerable students who were able to access in-school provision.

One of our key recommendations, therefore, is to invest heavily in technological infrastructure and training, particularly as our survey findings indicate that, even (more…)

Schools urgently need to tackle rape culture by educating pupils about online world

Blog Editor, IOE Digital12 April 2021

Lopolo/Shutterstock

Tanya Horeck, Jessica Ringrose, and Kaitlynn Mendes.

After weeks of national discussions about women and girls’ safety, the term “rape culture” has made headlines again. This time it relates to widespread reports of sexual violence against teenagers in secondary education, some of which include Britain’s most prestigious fee-paying schools.

The revelations came after Everyone’s Invited, a website and Instagram page dedicated to giving students a platform to report cases of sexual abuse and harassment, became inundated with testimonies in recent days.

Many girls who’ve spoken up have demanded that sexual violence and gender inequality be openly discussed and tackled by school leaders, while MPs have called for an inquiry. Yet it seems there’s an emerging argument (more…)

How can we help teachers to support their students in catching up?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital23 February 2021

Diana Laurillard.

Teaching in every education sector has changed beyond all recognition over the past year and the dramatic conversion from primarily face-to-face teaching to wholly online has been accomplished by the teaching community almost entirely without help. Some universities, colleges and schools have central technical support staff who have offered guidance and resources to teachers, but it has hardly been commensurate with the scale and difficulty of the change.

So let’s begin with a simple acknowledgement of the extraordinary work done by all those teachers who somehow discovered how to reinvent their entire way of teaching, while also managing the pressures and commitments of lockdown and home-schooling.

There is an expectation now across the teaching and education community that the new-found skills will continue to be deployed, as both students and teachers discover that there is value in mixing conventional and online methods, to achieve the optimal ‘blended learning’ mix. We may as well plan this, for two reasons: (more…)

Touched by music: a Christmas playlist with a tactile spin

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 December 2020

The In-Touch team, UCL Knowledge Lab

Music is a part of our everyday lives: many song lyrics both ‘touch’ us and tell stories of our tactile relationships with one another.

The interdisciplinary InTouch Project at UCL explores the social implications of digital technology for touch communication. As a fun side-project the team has compiled a Touch Playlist – and it seems every music genre loves a bit of touch!

This winter season, lit up by Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas and Hogmanay, heralds its own set of songs packed with tactile metaphors, invitations to touch, and felt memories. Here, we share a few thoughts on ‘touchy’ Christmas lyrics. Indeed, in the words of Queen (not The Queen), ‘it’s been a long hard year’ for many of us, in shared and different ways. How might the usual medley of (more…)

Maths anxiety: how can we overcome the ‘can’t do’ attitude?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital1 December 2020

Celia Hoyles. 

The Covid-19 pandemic is raising public anxiety not just about the virus but about the maths being used to explain how it spreads and how it can be controlled. What is the so-called R value? What do we mean by “flattening the curve”?

And if people were not confused enough, what are we to make of a slide like this, shown by the Prime Minister last Spring, which presents us with an equation that makes no mathematical sense? How did you react to it I wonder? I remember thinking I must have heard it wrongly, provoking me to consider the ‘equation’ more carefully. For many it might have been just one more instance of confirming ‘I cannot understand mathematics’.

If the pandemic brings no other benefits, it will surely answer the question: “Why is maths relevant to my life?” But this won’t necessarily help people to process the meaning behind large numbers and complicated graphs presented (more…)

A few words in the OFSTED framework could help boost the digital skills children need for learning outside of school

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 November 2020

Sara Hawley.

While the pandemic continues and individual pupils, groups or classes stay home self-isolating, the DFE has made remote learning part of schools’ legal duty for now. OFSTED has suspended routine inspections but is carrying out interim visits (without grading schools) to understand the lay of the land.  Yesterday, Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman published a report detailing the skills many children had lost during months of absence from school and acknowledging that home learning remains ‘patchy’.

For those of us working in and around schools in England over the last decade, it comes as no surprise to read of the huge variation in online learning provision across the state sector now and during the spring lockdown. Funding and policy choices made over recent years have in many ways taken things backwards. The abolition of BECTA (British Educational Communications Technology Agency) in 2010 meant the end of a coherent national strategy for online learning resources and infrastructure.

Since then, schools have been left to their own devices, navigating a baffling range of commercial options, often relying on any expertise held by enthusiasts among their staff. Compounding the difficulty has been (more…)

Education and Covid-19: five needs that must be met to provide vital learning lifelines for children and teachers

Blog Editor, IOE Digital14 October 2020

Vagner-Xaruto / Pixabay

Rose Luckin.

The latest reports from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) have some interesting lessons for the UK as we all try to ensure that pandemic compliant teaching and learning are effective wherever they happen: at home, at school on the bus or in the park.

Yes, the data is from 2018, but the dramatic changes we are going through are unlikely to invalidate the learning we can and must glean. Critical links in our education ecosystem are missing and that breaks what could be a learning lifeline for students, but it’s not just the technology that learners lack, it’s the human touch too.

We already know that the pandemic has highlighted discrepancies in access to technology. However, the PISA data shine a light on ways in which we are not meeting some of the basic student needs that must be met for effective remote learning.

There is general agreement that learners need four key things in order to stand a chance of learning remotely if and when they are unable to attend school, and the PISA data provides some support for a fifth (more…)

How the COVID-19 home-schooling experience can boost creativity and enhance teacher feedback

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 October 2020

Sara Bubb.

You might expect that the lockdown imposed by Covid-19 last spring would undermine schools’ progress in engaging pupils with more creative teaching and learning. But in the Norwegian municipality where I am involved in school improvement, this has not been the case at all.

Much has been written about the negative impact of the pandemic on pupils’ education but research that I conducted with Mari-Ana Jones has found much to celebrate about remote teaching and learning.

When the Covid-19 lockdown hit, it looked like a severe obstacle to the gains in creative teaching made between September and March, but surveys in April 2020 of teachers, parents and carers and pupils aged 6-9 and 10-16 showed that was far from the case. There was more creative learning, better progress, more useful feedback and greater student independence. School leaders (more…)

Covid-19 and EdTech: a chance for HE to rethink quality of provision and equality of access

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 June 2020

Diana Laurillard.

COVID-19 has radically changed the way we do higher education in the space of a few months. The pandemic should surely change the way we plan the future of HE across the world, in terms of both quality of provision and equality of access.

Education acts as a force for good when the decision-makers are committed to the values of a socially just and progressive future for all. A simple expression of this is to be ‘committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals’ – all 17 of them. They  are remarkably robust and appropriate for the world’s needs in the current crisis.

To name just three:

  • SDG3 is to ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’;
  • SDG11 says ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’;
  • SDG17 aims to ‘Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development’.

Had we carried these through more assiduously over the last five years HE in the UK would be better equipped (more…)