UK schools connectivity barriers ‘disappointing’ but tablets on the rise in the classroom

Tech-aided classrooms are on the rise with increased tablet and device adoption but the connectivity and WiFi postcode lottery is still ‘disappointing’, a study shows.

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Tech-aided classrooms are on the rise with increased tablet and device adoption but the connectivity and WiFi postcode lottery is still ‘disappointing’, a study shows.

Almost two thirds of primary (71 percent) and secondary (76 percent) schools in the UK are making use of tablets in the classroom, the annual survey from educational suppliers’ trade body, BESA, found. There is an estimated 721,000 tablets for use by pupils in classrooms across UK schools and academies and it is predicted to ride to 846,000 by 2016.

Just under half (44 percent) of these schools hope to offer one tablet per child by 2020, it found.

Poor connectivity in rural areas

Despite this, it appears a lack of bandwidth is a barrier to adoption of mobile technologies.

Just half of primary schools said they had the ideal bandwidth and 65 percent of secondary schools agreed.

A similar survey in 2014 found that schools in rural areas where at a disadvantage to bring devices to aid learning in the classroom as they were ill-served by telecommunication firms.

Other barriers to technology-aided learning include management and security of devices. In secondary schools the barriers to adoption, in order of significance, were training and support (91 per cent), funding (83 per cent) and management and security (83 per cent). 

'Failing to equip our young people with essential digital skills for future careers'

Caroline Wright, director, BESA said; “Today’s research shows there is an opportunity for teaching schools, school leadership organisations and industry to work with schools to help them understand how they can utilise tablet technology to its full potential, and integrate tablets as learning tools into the classroom. 

“It is disappointing to see so many schools still struggling with Wi-Fi and broadband connectivity issues. With nearly half of schools reporting poor connectivity we run the risk of failing to equip our young people with the essential digital skills that they need for their future careers. More needs to be done to improve Wi-Fi and broadband connectivity in our schools.”

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