Since the pandemic, the world of education and the way in which we use technology to communicate learning and information has changed radically. For many years, Apple has been at the forefront of creating and facilitating apps and tech which enable children to learn in new and innovative ways.
Their regional training centres (RTCs) act as local hubs for schools and teachers to gain useful tips and tricks to communicating complex tasks and strategies for learning which overcome the traditional barriers of literacy; maintaining the attention of your class.
The battle in literacy is in getting children engaged. Tech overcomes that barrier by enabling students to explore, express and demonstrate their learning. Jigsaw24 work with schools to support, train and inform teachers of some great ways to get their classes engaged with learning. We attended an RTC in Nottingham to see this training in practice and to speak with some of our professionals on the ground to gain a real insight into the power of tech to equip teachers to teach in more accessible ways.
A Regional Training Centre is a hub of learning for Apple for Education. There’s usually no more than one per county. Jigsaw24 are based in Nottingham and our nearest RTC is based at Burton Joyce Primary School, seven miles east of the city centre. The RTC plays host to teachers from within the academy and outside to give teachers a better understanding as to how tech can aid them in teaching their classes.
RTCs work with schools across the country to support and stimulate learning by plugging teachers into the power of tech.
“Being an Apple Distinguished Educator means that I have access to the latest resources like software, apps and updates.
I know I've got my finger on the pulse and that what I’m saying is current.”
Marc trained as a teacher some 15 years ago. As a new arrival, he was encouraged by his head to explore and understand iPad and to discover how this new technology could be used to better engage student’s learning.
“Back then iPad didn’t have a camera with it, there was no Education App Store, so it was very much find your own way.... It wasn’t ‘til 2 years later when the iPad 2 was released that things started to take off in education and that’s when I really saw a difference in the things you could do with this mobile device.”
We asked Marc what application iPad has across younger age group children.
“I teach four and five year olds. I was always seeing nine to eleven year olds animating with digital cameras ... transferring data onto desktops, using mice and keyboards. My pupils couldn’t do that at 4 years old. They didn’t have the physical skills needed [but with iPad] they were able to take a photo, cut it out, put it into an app, and record their voice and make the image move. All within 10-15 minutes!”
Marc uses the benefit of his insight from his time working with the local authority and in an independent trust, combined with the networking he gains from being plugged into a global network of other teachers, to hone his skills and pass on his knowledge to inspire teachers with new ways to teach their children.
The training event we attended in Burton Joyce was designed to equip history and geography leaders from the academy and beyond with some ‘quick-wins’ for engaging children using iPad. Presented as a tag-team, Marc and Richard took turns demonstrating how new releases could inform children. We were shown everything from a simple 3D look at the school we were sat in, to a 3 minute Google Earth presentation created by Richard’s daughter. Zooming in on some of the exotic places she has lived and complete with voiceover, accompanying slides with stats and images of each location, it was an impressive presentation for a seven-year old!
As observers, we felt genuinely privileged to see the ‘lightbulbs’ registering across the room as teachers saw immediately how the application of iPad could be applied to their current curriculum and class learning. Richard showed us how Augmented Reality, a technology which superimposes images through the device’s camera onto a screen, makes artefacts and locations such as the British Museum into a real, living experience for children to enjoy, experience and explore.
Teaching is famous for being demanding upon personal time in preparing lesson plans and marking work. This can mean that it seems easier to stick with known routes to learning than to spend extra time exploring new options. Technology, we learned, unlocks free time by enabling simple impartation of knowledge and understanding, overcoming barriers of literacy and writing skills to short-cut the route to understanding.
“Today’s technology removes the need for literacy levels so children with initial difficulty with language, reading or writing English, don’t need to depend on those skills to become geographers or historians.
The accessibility features in iPad can remove that literacy need so that the geography lessons can take place. Children can now show you what they have learned through sound recordings or video presentations. That's a real game-changer when it comes to other subjects [like humanities and science].”
Richard Poth is one of Jigsaw24’s in-house consultants. Describing himself as ‘once a teacher, always a teacher’, Richard brings the breadth of his 15 years’ experience in teaching, both in the UK and south-east Asia, to identify simple but effective ways to equip teachers with the confidence to approach their lesson plans from a different angle.
“I moved back to the UK in 2017 and set up my own consultancy business before joining Jigsaw24. Having been abroad for six years, the move back was a culture shock. Seeing how behind the UK education system was in comparison to international schools was scary.
“Schools didn’t have the technology or the knowledge, the curriculum was restrictive. Few schools saw EdTech as a priority. What they didn’t realise was that it could all come crashing down. With the Pandemic, schools in the UK weren’t prepared. In locations such as South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, they were prepared because technology was embedded into what they do. [Over there] education technology is part of the culture of the schools.
“However, in the UK schools struggled initially. The UK education system prevents using technology because there are so many targets to hit. Schools tend to teach towards an exam so not enough focus was put on the journey of learning, it was focused on the end result.”
Inspired by this challenge, Richard draws from experience teaching abroad and the lessons he learns daily from his own seven-year old daughter to educate teachers to teach in ways which excite and inspire wonder. Transporting children from the confines of a classroom to the tombs of ancient Egypt.
RTCs are for every school, not just the privileged few. Whether a private academy, or a local authority school, every teacher and student can benefit from the introduction of technology to aid literacy, learning and understanding. For Marc and the team at Equals Trust, the journey to embracing iPad across their academy started several years ago.
“In our academy we have a device strategy that’s been carefully planned to work out the minimum amount needed to make sure we have access to devices on a one device to three pupils ratio and that has been carefully planned with the headteachers and the board to make sure that it is sustainable. Jigsaw24 started that conversation with us five or six years ago.
“These aren’t quick fixes. Budget planning takes a lot of time, and you need to work out priorities and schedules, you need to know what your current infrastructure is, and what you need to change before the devices can be bought. It takes a long time to plan, it’s been a long journey of 4 or 5 years to get to this point. But we’re here now and we’ve got a sustainable plan that’s costing the minimum amount for each school involved.”
Parents have embraced the technology seeing the difference that time spent on education apps has on standard screen time and seeing aptitude for times tables and spelling improving as children learn through play in the home and the classroom.
These results support the learning in other areas such as humanities and sciences which, unfettered by the limitations of language, can blossom giving children a strong foundation as they graduate to secondary school, equipping them for fast-paced learning and the challenges of tomorrow.
Richard and his team are all teachers turned Apple educators who are passionate about teaching and engaging children in ways which spark their synapses and switch them onto learning, embracing the content by bypassing the method. Our team are gifted educators who are there to advise and support you however far you are in your journey.
We asked Richard what he and his team does to support teachers:
“Well, we take a rounded approach that allows teachers to explore their own creative ways of using the tools. I can tell a teacher how to use an app but it’s always better to explain why. Why are you using this app, what’s the purpose?
“It’s not about using just one app, it’s about talking to the teacher and finding out what the teacher wants to achieve. We work with them on a solution that will enhance the learning experience for the students so they can produce something that shows their understanding.
“Now that could be anything, it could be a movie, a website, it could be a computer game or an infographic. It could even be a presentation or an Augmented Reality presentation. There are a vast number of things that the students can use to show what they’ve learned.
“I always say that teachers don’t know, what they don’t know! So, my role is to open up the potential so they can then blossom for themselves.”
The art of teaching has evolved constantly over the years with new technologies enabling subjects to be conveyed in different ways. Irrespective of the method and the medium, the true impartation of knowledge comes when students are engaged and teachers are confident in the value of their message.
iPad and the Apple estate enables teachers to buy into the joy of teaching passionately and enthusiastically as they inspire students to learn in new and exciting ways.
At Jigsaw24 we’re keen to speak to schools who want to diversify their teaching methods and discuss ways of incorporating Apple tech.
To begin your journey towards a more engaging classroom experience for all please send your enquiries to our education team by filling in the form.
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