Tom Starkey's world of ed tech

9th January 2015 at 00:00

I've said it before and I'll say it again: one of the most important roles that technology can play in education is freeing up time for teachers to do that thing.what do you call it? You know, that thing that gets in the way of the admin. That's it, teach!

The advancement of pedagogy through technology is a noble endeavour, but until that seismic shift occurs, what I really, really want are tools that cut down on admin and streamline repetitive tasks, as well as a big red button I can press that will do all my exam entries for me. Do you hear me, ed-tech companies? A big red button. Get on it.

Time is a great luxury when you're a teacher. It's in short supply owing to the heavy demands of the job, which is a real shame, because more time would allow us to think about what we're doing and improve our practice. So I've been scouring the internet for apps and programs that will help you to claw back some time.

Quick Key was developed and co-founded by a teacher. It allows you to instantly mark multiple-choice tests (which are designed by you, so a little work is involved) by turning your phone into a scanner. Yes, I know that in some quarters multiple choice is held in as high a regard as nose-picking but, if you do want to use it to consolidate learning, this tool turns the repetitive and monotonous task of marking into the mere click of a button. You can do the same thing with Google Forms, which will transfer your data into a nice shiny spreadsheet, like magic. It might actually be magic, for all I know. Spreadsheets. Ugh.

A lot of time is wasted trying to find and organise materials from one year to the next. Cloud-based storage allows you to collate and coordinate your ideas, lesson plans, resources and other gubbins easily and efficiently, although you will need to take a little time at the start to work out the most efficient way to go about it. Storing things digitally also saves on frantic file-flicking (which in turn reduces the likelihood of paper cuts).

Finally, the production of original resources can suck away the hours like a peckish vampire. But why reinvent the wheel when a wealth of resources is out there created by teachers for teachers? Certain people may frown on sharing but I say to hell with it - some of us have a full timetable to teach. We're also smart enough to adapt the things we find. Loads of sites are out there, the TES website being foremost among them.

Hopefully this will be enough to get you started - if you have a favourite time-saver, drop me a line.

And if you're an ed-tech company, remember: a big red button. You'll make a fortune.

Tom Starkey is a teacher based in Leeds. Email or find him on Twitter at @tstarkey1212


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