![alt text](/filestore/BlogImage/44880144-b82f-4da4-8b31-e029608b9b4d/15d4e315-76d2-4001-acbe-0ae9c2b384cdAspacetoteach.jpg "A Space to Teach") **"As external pressures on educators continue to rise, why not use technology to take back time for doing what you do best,"** suggests Tony Cann. With my 80th birthday on the horizon, I’ve possibly spent more years in education technology than most. For me, it all started more than two decades ago when I launched the Promethean interactive whiteboard; by 1995 we had installed the first 50 boards into schools. Today, millions of teachers across the world use the technology. It should be something to celebrate but as I now have time to stand back and look at our school system, in many ways it has actually been a disappointment. By looking at how teaching has changed over these years, there are many lessons to be learned. In summary, we are yet to realise that technology in schools is simply a tool for change, it’s up to us to use it effectively to enable that change. Let’s go back to the start. ### Technology vs Pedagogy As technology started to trickle into schools, the ‘early adopters’ used it with pride and to a certain extent, children were engaged simply because it was new and exciting. But there was very little understanding of how to use it effectively in terms of both functionality and pedagogy. Looking at technology’s functionality first, the issue is that in most schools 80 per cent of the benefit comes from 20 percent of the features. I liken this to my use of Microsoft’s Word software; I know how to create new documents, type content and save them but that is possibly my limit. People who use it daily will have developed a much deeper understanding of the full functionality: creating tables and graphics, mailings and links. In the same way, if we go back to when we installed the first Promethean interactive whiteboard into schools, most teachers didn’t have any understanding of how to use them well. But it’s not about simply learning the functionality. Of course, knowing all the features to create dynamic visual learning opportunities provides a step towards good teaching, but I have seen so many teachers who have had in-depth training, standing at the front of the class, using the full functionality of an interactive whiteboard, presenting to 30 children who are totally disengaged. There is a difference between simply having the technology and embedding that technology into the teaching pedagogy. It is about engaging the children in their learning: getting them up to the front of the class, debating their actions with their peers and discussing alternatives. In this situation the teacher should be walking around the class as the catalyst for learning. However, teachers are becoming more fluent with technologies and there are great examples where I’ve seen technology used effectively, but sadly this may only be for one part of the school day. The best way for teachers to understand new technologies and the optimum pedagogy is to share experiences with their colleagues, but this is very much time dependant, which brings me on to my next point. ### Technology and Time Headteachers today have become business managers with budgets to balance, marketing requirements to attract pupils and Academy Trusts to join. At the same time, teachers are crowded by assessments, reports, data input and of course marking, to the extent where they have no space for ‘real’ teaching. With less space to move, I actually see the adoption of technology getting slower. ![alt text](/filestore/BlogImage/44880144-b82f-4da4-8b31-e029608b9b4d/d7ec8077-f07b-4f28-8f0c-f438e2c27820Tony'sTeachwirepicture2.jpg "Quote") At Learning by Questions, which I set up to help schools use technology to save themselves time, I meet teachers struggling to find the time to implement the same technology they know will make their working day more effective and their teaching more impactful. Private schools are possibly able to achieve better results purely because there are more teachers teaching fewer students with potentially less compliance boxes to tick; quite simply, they have more time to teach. So, what can teachers do to give themselves more time to focus on the learning? The first thing to remember is that the biggest underutilised resource in education are the students themselves. Thankfully today’s technology innovation has brought a new level of intelligence to software which puts the child back in the learning seat. Systems can set questions for students to investigate and solve. Depending on their response, the system ‘recognises’ if they have got it right or wrong and is able to provide them with clues to learn from and another question to give them a second chance; after all you only really learn when you get a question wrong. For a teacher with a class of 30 students, a truly personalised education for each child has been virtually impossible, but today, technology is starting to truly enable this. With Learning by Questions, each child can be working on the same area of the curriculum but each at their own level of development. If necessary, the system flags to the teacher when a student is struggling and lets them see in real time what errors the student is making so they can intervene appropriately and immediately without marking. Technology isn’t yet at the stage where it can work out why the student got the question wrong, therefore teachers are still a central part of each child’s learning. However, while the students are completely engaged with their own, virtually autonomous learning, the teacher is free to ‘teach’ and support students. My privileged position has allowed me to see the mistakes that have been made over the past few years and hopefully demonstrate the direction that I feel schools need to take. As a charity, we hope that others will follow us. I call on all technology developers to consider the data burden on teachers and the need to give them the space to teach. This article was previously published by [teachwire.net](http://teachwire.net).