Elliot Gowans, senior VP International, D2L

Technology has a pivotal role to play in helping teachers and other educators deliver learning that gets results, while managing workload. Many educational institutions are at a turning point, implementing new technological solutions or evaluating the many options available to them. At this crucial point, robust training and support must form part of implementation programmes if digital transformations are to have the fullest effect.

Recent news that teachers’ working hours have fallen by five hours a week compared to 2016 are welcome, but there is still much, much more to do to relieve administrative and other burdens on teaching staff.

Repetitive tasks, such as setting and marking assessments, providing updates to students and giving feedback, are often fully manual and incredibly time-consuming. They’re essential to the teaching process – that much goes without saying - but if the way they’re done can be streamlined, the time that’s freed up can be banked for other activities. It’s here where technology can help through the use of effective and efficient tools that support teachers and help them in their roles.

Alleviating administrative pressure

Government-backed initiatives aim to get underneath this issue and provide practical means for institutions to self-help. The DfE’s education technology strategy, released earlier this year, recognizes that EdTech can make a difference. At a time when educators are striving to deliver excellent results with finite time and resources there is a need to overcome barriers and tackle the challenges of the sector, including teacher workloads.

It is precisely in this way that modern learning platforms can help. Indeed, in a recent D2L survey, which sought to examine the impact of EdTech on teaching staff in higher education institutions, half the surveyed 500+ UK-based lecturers said that technology could alleviate administrative pressure.

Keeping all plates spinning

In the face of change, life doesn’t stand still, and teachers and lecturers are under constant pressure. They must continually support students, raise standards, meet administrative demands and forge ahead with their own continuing professional development.

It is within this environment that technology must work to aid and further the evolution of teaching and learning models. In the medium and long-term, technology-enabled learning stands to save teaching staff time. In order for that to happen, teachers are being asked to adapt, while keeping the plates spinning. After all, change is not always easy and likely to be met with some resistance.

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Our survey found that, despite 91 per cent of lecturers believing that adding more learning technology could increase student engagement, nearly half (47 per cent) said more support and training for educators could get them to embrace technology in the classroom.

Building skills and capabilities

It’s important that digital transformation programmes acknowledge the full range of reactions they will encounter, across all stakeholders – teachers, students, administrative staff and even parents. Upfront commitment to training and support is also essential.

People who feel that change is being ‘done to’ them are more likely to resist it. Working with all stakeholders to encourage them to be part of the change and air their concerns so that they can be addressed will help ease the transition.

Digital learning platforms, which provide a diverse range of tools and applications in support of an engaging, interactive and ‘always-on’ learning experience, can help students and teachers attain the right learning outcomes. They also have the means to help reduce the time that teaching staff and administrators spend delivering and monitoring learning.

For these benefits to come to fruition, lecturers and teachers need to feel confident in the EdTech they’re asked to use. Implementations should be carefully thought through, involve all stakeholders and be supported by robust training of educators and teaching staff. With the skills and capabilities – maintained and built upon through effective continuing professional development - to make best use of technology, staff can hope to gain the most from the potential that EdTech has to alleviate growing workloads whilst providing a modern, flexible learning experience.

Elliot Gowans, Senior VP International, D2L

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