How to save time with technology
It's a challenge but there are some areas where you may be able to streamline how you work and get some time back.
Organise your resources
According to many teachers, the biggest cause of inefficiency is "hunting and gathering". It's easy to lose a lot of time searching for lost resources, such as lesson plans or student work, or chasing after equipment, like projectors, iPads and books. Getting your systems in place is worthwhile and saves a lot of time.
Technology can really help here. It's often quicker to create online records and they're searchable so you'll save time looking for things. For instance, if you store your students' work online, you can be sure it's backed up and won't go missing or be destroyed. It will also allow them to submit work online and receive feedback the same way.
It's not just physical resources that can be organised. Making a list at the end of the day gets teachers ready for tomorrow and helps to switch off from work.
Improve the efficiency of marking
We all know that marking is a time-consuming but essential element of teaching. Research by the OECD shows that secondary school teachers in the UK spend more time on marking and administration than teachers in the rest of Europe. And Sixth Form Colleges Association chief executive David Igoe has said "the issue in SFCs is...about teachers generally having larger classes with a heavy burden of marking and preparation."
Despite the time needed, the quality of marking needs to remain high. Advice from the Education Endowment Foundation says that marking should:
- Be specific, accurate and clear, giving examples and citing why things are good or need improvement
- Show where the student has made improvements
- Be encouraging and meaningful
- Give specific guidance on how to improve, instead of just saying they are wrong.
Teachers also need to give evidence in their marking and show how it is constructive. With the importance that Ofsted place on marking and traceability, it's important to show marking meets their criteria.
Marking also needs to relate to quantifiable goals and objectives. These help set expectations and allow educators and students to see improvements more easily.
Drive efficiency with technology
All of these marking requirements help students to succeed but also take time to implement effectively. The key consideration is how to make it as efficient as possible. There are several ways you can do this.
1. Make use of technology that allows online marking. You can save common marking annotations, reuse comments, automatically check grammar and originality, and even create standard or bespoke marking criteria as templates. Teachers can share marking templates with colleagues, saving each other's time, increasing consistency and providing evidence of marking criteria.
Our research shows that you could reduce grading time by 31% and increase the level of student engagement by 46%. What's more, software can track improvements, using statistics and graphs to show teachers and students clear evidence of progress.
2. Make use of student-to-student peer review. Graham Nuthall, author of the Hidden Lives of Learners and a leading expert in teaching and learning in the classroom, showed in his research that 80% of the classroom feedback comes from other students.
If educators begin to manage this process, feedback can be structured and monitored to support teachers in the review of work. Peer review feedback doesn't have to be complicated and software can help. And it has many benefits, from helping develop students' awareness of their learning processes to building responsibility for their own learning.
3. Keeping a check on the originality of your students' work is also an essential part of marking. Whether it's copying from their peers or from online and offline sources, you can use software to quickly and easily see if their work is original and has cited the appropriate sources.
As class sizes and workloads increase, it's a great time to look at new technology and how it could help your school or college. Software can save time, support the delivery of the most effective feedback to students and set them on the path to success.
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