Don't Ban the Smartphone from Class, Work It Instead; Could Wales' Problems with Basic Numeracy and Literacy Skills Be Improved with Better Integration of Technology in the Classroom? in the Week That Cardiff Council Announced a Plan to Provide Every School with Tablet Computers for Pupils, Brynley Davies, Principal of Ystrad Mynach College, Argues That Teaching Methods Need to Evolve If We Are to Tackle the Skills Challenges We Face
WALK down any high street and it seems that everyone has technology at their fingertips.
Smartphones, tablets and MP3 players are ubiquitous - in fact more than half of the UK population owns a smartphone, with this number rising in younger age groups.
At the same time, there is a persistent issue with basic skills in Wales. Half of the working-age population lacks basic numeracy skills, and a quarter lack basic literacy skills.
Last month, Welsh Government Education minister Leighton Andrews said: "Nothing is more important than ensuring all of our young people have the skills they need to read, write and communicate.
"The challenges ahead of us are very clear. It is vital that we see a step change in literacy and numeracy standards."
I believe one of the answers to this educational challenge lies in the very technology that young people enjoy in almost all other areas of their lives.
By embracing more imaginative deployment of technology in - and outside - the classroom, we can improve engagement by delivering education in a more modern, relevant and engaging way to young learners.
Over the past few decades we have witnessed a digital revolution, with increasingly fast and powerful technology enhancing and revolutionising every aspect of our lives.
From social interaction to shopping, from dating to banking - more and more everyday activities are now carried out online.
However, with an abundance of technology readily available, we have yet to see it being utilised to its full potential in the learning environment.
The vast majority of students in colleges now have access to smartphone technology. I believe educational institutions are missing a trick in not encouraging students to use these devices as part of the learning experience, choosing instead to blanket ban the use of personal technology in the classroom.
It is time that learning providers changed their approach to teaching to allow more independent learning and encourage "connected learners" to make the most of the vast range of information and tools available to them on the internet.
More effective use of ICT has the ability to empower learners and teachers, moving away from passive learning to more student-centric, independent learning.
This has been proven to enable students to develop and improve their basic skills - including literacy and numeracy, and also to develop valuable self-regulatory characteristics, such as resilience, emotional intelligence, courage and self-belief. This enables pupils to continue to develop as successful learners and as skilled and committed workers in later life.
Businesses continue to express concern at the lack of not just basic literacy skills in the emerging workforce, but also of the lack of individuals' abilities in areas such as communication, problemsolving, self-motivation and time management. …