Drones, spy cameras and recording studios: what teachers really want in the classroom
Thirty two state schools across Britain have launched crowdfunding campaigns to buy the latest technology products and services in the second wave of Rocket Fund, a dedicated crowdfunding platform for schools.
To help the schools reach their goals, Nesta and five pioneering businesses (Jisc, Mint Digital, pi-top, Busuu and Croud) are providing match funding, all flagging the urgent need for more digital skills and the responsibility of businesses to help schools to keep up with technology.
Schools from Devon to Aberdeenshire are raising money to enrich lessons and enable students to access the latest technology. Campaigns range from raising funds for a set of drones to start a drone academy, a portable recording studio for a school radio show, Chromebooks to enable flipped learning and spy cameras to monitor local wildlife. Within two weeks, five of the projects have already reached at least 50 per cent of their target and one school has managed to reach its target of £1,250 to buy 4 iPads for their reception class.
This wave is open to submissions from schools until Monday 19th June 2017.
The Rocket Fund platform, built by innovation foundation Nesta, was set up in 2016 to test whether the model of crowdfunding could work to support more effective use of technology in the classroom. Previous Nesta research showed that while hundreds of millions of pounds has been spent on technology in schools, there is very little evidence that it has any impact on learning and attainment. The Rocket Fund pilot is testing how, through crowdfunding, teachers can more easily try the new things they think will benefit their pupils, whilst writing reviews and developing case studies to advise other teachers in the future.
Ben Gill, who is leading the Rocket Fund project at Nesta says, “Rocket Fund creates a space for experimentation. It allows both teachers and pupils to play with new technology, and make an assessment of its effectiveness based on real world usage. In the second phase of Rocket Fund we are asking for businesses to get involved by match funding projects to help teachers reach their goals. Once schools have had the kit for a few months, we then ask them for a review and case study to help other teachers in the future. Now they’re able to buy any tech product they want, it’s exciting to see what sort of things they’re choosing”
Quotes from Rocket Fund match funders:-
Ben Knight, COO at Croud, a global digital marketing agency, says, “Croud are delighted to be supporting Rocket Fund as we believe new technology offers an incredibly exciting future for teachers and students. The schools we are match funding are raising money to buy VR headsets. VR is at the tipping point for its role in society, and already with products like Google Expeditions the ability for teachers to take students to explore coral reefs or the surface of Mars in an afternoon offers educational possibilities like never before. Teachers can take students on immersive, virtual journeys and field trips to virtually anywhere - from Machu Picchu to Antarctica to the International Space Station - VR brings lessons to life for the classroom and giving someone else the ability to experience what we would all have loved as a child makes us very happy!"
Paul Feldman, Chief Executive at Jisc, a provider of digital solutions for UK education and research, says, “Rocket Fund gave us the opportunity to get involved in our local community in a valuable way. We can’t ignore that digital skills are becoming increasingly important and that education needs to adapt to this. Getting the right tech into schools makes a huge difference and can improve capabilities. We often find that though most students arriving at college know how to use tech recreationally, they lack the skills to use it in a meaningful and productive way. Incorporating the use of tech in the education system from a younger age can help to change this.”
Bernhard Niesner, CEO & co-founder at busuu, the global language learning community, says, “Education and technology go hand in hand not only in self-study learning like we create with busuu but also in the classroom. Teachers should have the best available tech that enables kids to learn in a practical way. We believe in building links with teachers and listening to their priorities."
Daryl Rodrigo Vice President at pi-top, creators of DIY computers says, “We agree that education in tech should be a big priority. Classrooms haven’t evolved much over the last 100 years, possibly excluding the introduction of interactive whiteboards. Schools are traditionally quite risk averse. Rocket Fund allows for experimentation, which is an important part of the process of change. There also needs to be a wealth of diversity in the people who work in tech and this should begin at school.”
Tim Morgan, CEO and co-founder of Mint Digital, a venture builder says “There is unquestionably a digital skills gap in the UK. There is an enormous demand for talent in London - from Silicon Valley tech companies to investment banks and startups. The supply of skills just isn’t keeping pace with demand. There is a gap between the real world application of skills and what they’re able to teach - which is inevitable because the industry moves so quickly. Businesses could do more to support schools with building digital skills. It’s so hard for teachers to keep up with the rapid pace of change of tech, but it’s the job of digital entrepreneurs! So they should be involved and supporting.”
For more information contact Juliet Grant in Nesta’s press office on 078 6694 9047 / 020 7438 2543 or [email protected]
Nesta is a global innovation foundation. We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of our knowledge, networks, funding and skills. We work in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities. We are a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment. Find out more about Nesta.
Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.
About Rocket Fund
Rocket Fund is an online fundraising platform for schools. Rocket Fund enables teachers to buy the tech equipment they think will have the biggest impact on their students' education, by raising money, connecting them with their community and giving them access match funding.
Full details on the projects are available at www.rocket.fund where individuals and businesses can pledge support.