Review of Impact of New Technologies in English Maintained Schools

Published by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), this is a report on research undertaken to find out how schools use, and anticipate using, new technology.  It covers funding, hardware used by teachers, hardware used by pupils, software used by teachers, communicating with parents through social networking and other means, and home access.

This will be of use primarily to companies wanting to plan for selling to the education market, although I think it has enough of interest to justify purchase by Local Authorities despite its eye-watering price tag of £650 to non-members (which is pretty low in comparison with another corporate-funded piece of research which was selling for £5,000.)

It contains interesting results, such as the fact that none of the schools covered by the survey currently make extensive use of smartphones, which seems a bit of a wasted opportunity. Another interesting observation is that a much higher percentage of primary schools make extensive use of visualisers (document cameras) than secondary schools – 15% compared to 1%. Why does it often seem to be the case that primary schools are far more innovative in their use of educational technology than secondary schools?

The publication hit the educational headlines a few months ago in the form of doom and gloom reports about the anticipated decline of spending on ICT by schools. When you look at the actual figures (see above, under Food for thought/A glass half full), you can see that the negativity wasn’t justified.

I very much like the way the report is laid out. Each page consists of a central area with text and a table, and sometimes a chart, and a sidebar titled “Key facts” in which the headline statistics are printed in large bold characters. It makes it very easy to obtain an overall picture of what’s going on without having to read lots of detail (unless you want to).

As an aside, I consulted BESA’s Learning Platform Review of 2009 for a chapter I have contributed to a forthcoming book about networked schools, and that was equally easy to read. If you’re interested in reading that, it can be purchased for £350 by non-members. For details of these and other publications, as well as membership information, please visit the BESA website.

This review was originally published in Computers in Classrooms, the free e-newsletter for educational ICT professionals. Subscribe now!