Open Academy school in Norwich have won a £10,000 prize to kit out their IT suite with new high-spec computers, enabling their students to work on new parts of the national curriculum including coding. The Academy also runs the innovative ‘Project Refurb’ initiative which shows children how to repurpose older computers to give back to the community.
The results of BT’s Tech Factor 2017 competition revealed that schools are increasingly looking to bring new, sophisticated technology products into the classroom, in particular Virtual Reality headsets, robotics and coding tools, and sound recording equipment. Schools requesting these forms of technology were up from 2016, which saw a focus on products like cameras, fitness trackers, and drones. This year, the majority of schools asked for tablets or laptops, while over a third asked for products associated with robotics, coding and drones. The number of schools asking for virtual reality technologies increased threefold from 2016, as a clear trend for using VR headsets to enhance learning emerged over the last twelve months.
BT’s CEO of the BT Shop, Helen Slinger, said: “The number of schools requesting more powerful desktop computers is consistently high, as schools look to run more advanced art and design programmes, animation software, and provide support for virtual reality – with all of these requiring increased processing power. It’s particularly fascinating to see that the interest in virtual reality has grown significantly since last year’s competition. Helping school children to build the digital skills they need for the future and introducing these kinds of technologies to the classroom is a core part of our ambition to reach five million children with our Tech Literacy programme by 2020.”
The two runners up, who will each receive £5,000 to spend on technology equipment, will purchase virtual reality headsets and interactive whiteboards (Tottington Primary in Greater Manchester), and a suite of Apple Mac computers for use in creative media and design classes (Brownedge St Mary’s Catholic High School in Lancashire). The winners of the competition will be able to spend their prize money in the BT Shop. The competition will also award further schools with a series of partner-sponsored prizes from Microsoft, HP, Kyocera, Epson, Fujitsu, Kensington and Brother who are adding their support by donating prizes and giving more schools the chance to win tech.
The Tech Factor 2017 competition invited schools to demonstrate how they can use technology to enhance learning and ensure students are armed with the digital skills they need for the future. The competition is part of BT’s wider Tech Literacy initiative to inspire young people in the UK to embrace the role technology plays in their lives. Also, with its Barefoot Computing Project, BT is currently offering free teaching-resources and volunteer-led training workshops, designed to help primary school teachers become more confident when teaching computer science and computing skills.