Technology in the CLASSROOM – What’s the REAL impact

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Having already reached a considerable level of success with the teaching of English at our school up to until recently, we did this with only a little CD player, a great teacher and a large group of enthusiastic students. In this day and age it seems unthinkable that a school could get such a great reputation with only a limited amount of technology use. It really makes you think – what is the magic ingredient and how necessary is advanced technology in the classroom?

However, I’d like to also add that last October we did take the plunge and introduce computers and projectors in every classroom. Proudly I have to say that today, we no longer use the CD players but use the projectors for everything from the pdf of the textbooks we use and YouTube videos, as well as other pieces of information, programs and resources found on the internet that are very suitable for all our classes.

The results of the change in the use of the more advanced technology has made us wonder about the impact. Our students and teachers were already excellent in terms of their skills, so what difference has it made to the final output?

Let’s look at something we can measure.

TEST RESULTS (How many pass the course):

For the years up to September 2015 (using only CD players) – May 2016 (Using only projectors) the monthly results were as follows:

  • Average rate of pass for monthly exams up to September 2015 – 86% (Meaning that 86% of the students who sat the end of month exams achieved 65% or more)
  • Average rate of pass for monthly exams October 2015 to May 2016 – 88% (Meaning that 88% of the students who sat the end of month exams achieved 65% or more)

So as you can see, that though there was an improvement in the results generally, not particularly significant.

TEST RESULTS (Levels of achievement for the course):

For the years up to September 2015 (using only CD players) – May 2016 (Using only projectors) the monthly results were as follows:

  • Average scores for monthly exams up to September 2015 – 73% (Meaning that the average mark the students achieved in each of their courses was 73%)
  • Average scores for monthly exams October 2015 to May 2016 – 77% (Meaning that the average mark the students achieved in each of their courses was 77%)

So as you can see, there was a significant increase in the overall mark for the students during this time.

RECRUITMENT RESULTS:

For the years up to September 2015 (using only CD players) – May 2016 (Using only projectors) the recruitment results were as follows:

  • Average number of new students recruited monthly up to September 2015 = 18
  • Average number of new students recruited monthly from October 2015 – May 2016 = 40

From here we can see a very significant shift in results. However, saying this, I don’t think we could only attribute this to the use of projectors, here were many factors that came into play at this point, however projectors may have had some input.

STUDENT RENEWAL RESULTS:

Every six months our students have the chance to renew and continue their English journey with us. The average renewals per month before and after the use of projectors were as follows:

  • Average % of students seeking renewal monthly up to September 2015 = 28%
  • Average % of students seeking renewal monthly from October 2015 – May 2016 = 15%

These results show a significant decrease in students’ deciding to renew based on the number of students who registered 6 months before.

These results are very interesting. The overview is this:

  1. Slightly more students pass their course.
  2. A small but significant increase in the overall mark of each student is seen.
  3. Over double the amount of students want to study with us.
  4. A significantly decreased number of students want to renew with us.

So what does this tell us about technology use in the classroom?

Firstly, these results cannot be attributed to solely the use of projectors (as there were also a number of other factors at play that didn’t have anything to do with technology). However, one thing is clear, though there is only a slight improvement in performance, there is a small but significant increase in the overall mark. This tells us that the students obviously feel that the use of projectors in the classroom is something that can help them pass or improve their monthly results.

The increase in the number of students recruited monthly could in part be due to this too, however more in depth research needs to be conducted on this to get a more accurate observation.

So why was there a decrease in the renewal rate?

However, this increased value hasn’t corresponded to the number of students who are willing to stay on longer. In fact, the percentage of students staying on has significantly decreased. This could be alarming for most businesses, in that we all wish to retain customers, however in this case the very thing that caused an increase in customers is the very thing that caused the decreased retention rate.

But if we look at it in another way – the ultimate goal of an English course is for the student to achieve enough proficiency to move onto completing their ultimate goal e.g. going to university, getting the job they want, passing their IELTS exam etc. The strangeness of this business is that the faster and more successful you are with your product, the less the customer will continue with you, as once they have proficiency, they no longer need you.

Sounds like a business that is trying to put itself out of business! But in fact this in itself is the very reason why a business will do better than other businesses. If you can give your customer something they desire faster and better than other places, you will win the customer. If it is speed and quality they desire, the only thing the business will need to focus on is constantly satisfying their current students so that they refer others, not necessarily stay on.

Moving back to the original point now. To fully understand the impact of projectors on learning will need a far more in depth study, however what has become very clear is these things:

  • Technology is a part of life today and students expect it
  • Technology needs to be integrated into learning, not just a fancy extra
  • The integrated use of internet based programs can help students diversify their learning by practicing techniques to finding these and other English based programs that support their current course.
  • Great teachers are still great teachers, the use of technology helps to a certain extent but only augments the classroom experience, it won’t make a poor teacher great.

To add to all this, it needs to be understood that though projectors were used in this study, there were also other pieces of technology, e.g. mobile phones. Teachers (along with the use of projectors) were encouraged to get students accessing their mobile phones in the way the teacher used the internet on the projector. This was something that raised a previously unrecognized problem. Students learn English at school, but when it came to their personal life (of which the mobile phone revolved around), they were blind in terms of how to use it in English.

Therefore, the more digitalized we become in our world, the more the learning process must integrate it.

What do you think?

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