If you know a teacher, then you also know how many hours they spend outside of the classroom planning and preparing for their lessons.
The workload seems to grow continuously, heaping more and more pressure on those educating our children.
But in the digital age it doesn’t have to be like this.
In France, teachers are embracing technology that not only reduces the amount of time they spend on lesson plans, but helps to improve their lesson content too.
They are using a social media channel that allows them to set up discussion groups, swap lesson plans and share resources.
But this isn’t Facebook, it is France’s teachers-only answer to it, called Viaeduc.
Created in 2015, Viaeduc is now used by more than 70,000 teachers across France to connect with each other and share lesson plans. Resources can easily be found and shared thanks to Viaeduc’s integration with another online service, Myriaé, a dedicated education search engine.
Everything from textbooks to educational games and videos can be found on Myriaé, with comments and ratings helping teachers decide what to use.
Both Myriaé and Viaeduc are backed by the French government, and they reflect the ever-increasing role that technology plays in delivering a first-class education.
Much has been made of the potential ways that digital tools could be used to transform the traditional delivery of education.
For example, some educators champion the idea of the “flipped classroom”, where the “teaching” element of the lesson takes place outside of school. These lessons are delivered by video or other interactive content for students to engage with at home before class.
This frees up class time for activities that dive deeper into the learning and reinforce the students’ earlier lessons – the traditional role of homework.
Others, like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, are calling for a far more radical vision of “personalised education”.
Systems such as the Summit Learning Platform, backed by Zuckerberg’s philanthropic organisation, help each student to work through lessons at their own pace and to take tests when they are ready. Students can even begin to specialise in areas that they are interested in.
And teachers can analyse data from students’ online learning in real time, helping them to respond quickly with tailored help for each student.
However, while these technologies are at early stages, tools like Myriaé and Viaeduc that help make teachers lives easier are finding mass appeal.
Together with [email protected], an online training tool for teachers, there are now 744,000 teachers in France using the online resources backed by the French government.
[email protected], Myriaé and Viaeduc are all underpinned by Tata Consultancy Services technology.
Launched in 2013, [email protected] is the oldest of the platforms. It combines interactive and video face-to-face training sessions, and allows teachers to create their own bespoke training plans for their continuous professional development.
Teachers are not simply using digital tools to make their lives easier: they are also using them to raise standards and provide a more consistent level of education.
For example, subject specific groups called “ateliers”, French for workshops, are being set up on Viaeduc at both regional and national level. These allow best practice to be shared help ensure a much more consistent level of delivery across all schools.
For example, history teacher Sarah Lachise says she is coordinating 30 teachers from schools from eight counties around Paris and its surrounding areas. She says it helps them all share the latest and best of technology use in delivering history lessons.
That teachers are embracing digital technology shouldn’t come as a surprise. Research in the US shows that the average age of a teacher is 41.
This means many grew up during the explosion of home computers and game consoles in the 1990s. Most were still at school when dial-up internet services began.
For this reason, today’s teachers can arguably be described as digital natives.
This means that digital technology is now the go-to tool for teachers when they are looking for resources, lesson plans and better ways to teach in the classroom.