Essa Academy has been using Apple devices and apps to create new content and engage students
Bett 2017 is officially underway at the ExCel Centre in London today, bringing together the best and brightest in education technology.
The likes of Intel, Google, Microsoft and Apple are all in attendance, looking to stake their claim in the ever-growing ed-tech market, with guest speakers including Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening, celebrity chef Heston Blumenhal and renowned author Sir Ken Robinson,
The event kicked off this morning with a keynote from Abdul Chohan, director of development at the Essa Academy, who spoke about how the academy has been using Apple technology to transform its teaching processes.
Teaching through tech
Back in 2009, the academy started its technology revolution by purchasing an iPod Touch for every student, which it was able to afford through a variety of cost-cutting measures. The devices quickly became the school’s “digital pencilcase” before they were upgraded to iPads in 2010.
Using the iTunes University app, Essa teachers were able to design learning platforms which included videos, Google Docs and other apps. “All our learning content moved onto this platform,” Chohan said.
The technology allowed Essa to “do things that we couldn’t do before”, such as create digital textbooks where the students can zoom in and rotate images and watch videos at their own pace, an important capability for a school that boasts 46 different languages.
Coding is also becoming a popular topic. Children as young as eight are now getting experience in building and designing app, which will be essential in narrowing the skills gap currently sweeping through the wider technology industry.
“It’s not about using millions of apps,” Chohan explained. “As far as tools are concerned, as long as we have the right belief in people, when we put these tools in the hands of teachers we can get amazing things to happen.”
The key, he said, is changing beliefs rather than behaviour: “If we can change people’s beliefs, their behaviours will automatically change” and this is something that also applies to the business environment.”
Implementing technology is all well and good, but fostering the right culture and designing the right processes behind it are both equally important in getting the most out of the tools available.