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Key to Advancing Education Lies in Effective Application of Technology – by CIE’s Michael O’Sullivan

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During my first six months as chief executive at Cambridge International Examinations I have learnt about the challenges and opportunities we face as we continue to support excellence in education in schools around the world.

At our annual Cambridge Schools Conference in Singapore this year, which was attended by over 370 teachers from around the world, we focused on how to prepare our learner’s for the modern world. We looked at the impact of new digital devices on learning; the latest technologies in the work place; the emergence of new categories of jobs driven by technological innovation and how technology can be best integrated into the classroom to benefit learners.

The resounding message from our teachers and the renowned speakers at our conference including Ayesha Khana, chief executive at Urban Intel and John G. Hedberg, professor of ICT and Education at Macquarie University, is that learners will succeed in the modern world by the effective application of technologies. Ayesha Khana rightly commented, “To prepare our students for these changes it’s important to use technology not only as a tool but as a partner.”

We received similar messages in a survey we sent to over 500 of our teachers around the world, asking how they are using technology in the classroom. The results show clearly how important this area is for schools, teachers and learners, signaling a global understanding of the importance of building technology into teaching practice.

Many teachers are starting to employ the newest technology to transform their lessons, with over a third of teachers using the latest smartphones and tablets in the classes, and the same number using apps or social networks in the classroom for educational purposes. While more traditional technology such as TV, radio and CD players are falling out of favor, over 80 percent of teachers now use laptops in the classroom to support their teaching. Over two-thirds of students have individual access to laptops and PCs in their lessons, while many schools are addressing the access issue by enabling students to use their own technology. BOYD “Bring Your Own Device” is also on the rise in schools, with over 60 percent of teachers confirming their students are allowed to bring their own devices for use in the classroom.

Over 50 percent of teachers have a strategy for using technology in the classroom, 80 percent expect their IT budget to increase over the next five years and 90 percent believe all lessons will be supported by some form of technology 10 years from now.

Interestingly our technology survey revealed that the technology application with the greatest appeal for teachers is the ability to connect classrooms around the world. We are pleased to be supporting our teachers in this area through a new online learning space, which we have developed, for our Cambridge IGCSE Global Perspectives students. This virtual learning platform provides media-rich learning resources, enables students and teachers to build online communities and share their work with other schools around the world.

Within perhaps 20 years I believe we shall have seen the end of paper and pen examinations, and already the ways in which we use technology to support our assessment and curricula are crucial. The value and usability of e-assessment will, of course, depend not just on technology solutions but on many other factors including the readiness of schools’ infrastructure, recognition by universities and governments, and the willingness of parents and leaners to accept these modes of assessment. Even though the long-term destination seems clear, the journey for us as a global assessment provider will be interesting, and we look forward to it.

Michael O’Sullivan is chief executive of Cambridge International Examinations. He was previously director of the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust and Cambridge Overseas Trust. He was also secretary general of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China.

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Written by Cambridge English Southern Europe

December 13, 2013 at 10:00 am

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