Can online textbooks really address the teacher over workload crisis?
A recent government survey carried out to by the Department for Education revealed that marking, planning and data management were the 3 biggest issues that contribute to teacher (over)workload. I know they call it workload – but I think we should call it as it is – over workload. And you don’t need me to tell you that over workload pressures continue to cause monumental issues for UK schools attracting and retaining staff. It also has a huge impact on teacher morale and job satisfaction. So while the government is looking at removing unnecessary and or unproductive tasks as well as finding strategies that work in schools to manage workload I am sure there are many things individual teachers and schools have discovered that help.
I would like to suggest, and have heard it anecdotally, that by encouraging teachers to use high-quality online textbooks instead of developing their own materials may be one solution. Online textbooks certainly help with marketing, planning and data management! Our online textbooks are from such established education publishers such as Hodder, Pearson, Cambridge University Press, Elmwood and PG Online and are all on a single platform meaning lesson planning and preparation times can be cut significantly.
Matt Britland, Director of IT and Digital Strategy at Alleyn’s School said, “Anything that can help reduce the time teachers spend planning and preparing lessons as well as making the lessons engaging for pupils has to be a good thing.”
Teachers and pupils can access their textbooks on a computer or using an app on a tablet or a smartphone, even when they are offline, so there is an immediate time-saving element here too. More significantly, however, this also allows teachers to set tasks, edit notes and give reading guidance almost instantly. They can make and share notes, add links to video, add bookmarks and highlight text to enhance learning. All without having to go online and research many different sources and references.
Yes, I am the first to acknowledge that so often there is such a daunting time-overhead in adopting new technologies that we hesitate to propose new methods or technology to overworked teachers! That’s why Classoos has made using the online textbooks as simple as possible. Teachers can keep existing usernames and passwords as the service integrates with Firefly, Office 365 and Google for Single Sign-On. So no need to issue and remember new passwords. And no need to log in and out of multiple publishers’ sites – all your books are in one place. On another positive note - there is no handing out and checking back in the textbooks at the beginning and end of each term.
And from the students’ point of view online textbooks overcome the issue of heavy school bags weighed down with large tomes, the content is always up-to-date and online books don’t get dog-eared - you they can write in the margins without being labelled a vandal!