Technology has the ability to transform how children learn, though it could be argued in many primary school settings technology is not being utilised to its full potential. Historically schools taught handwriting as it was a skill required for future employment and children were required to solve math manually as this was the only way. However, basic skills of reading, writing and mathematics are no longer enough and children do not need this out-dated system. It could be suggested the old system is struggling to engage a new generation of students for whom learning is continuously happening online, off line and in the classroom. In accord with this, educationalist and author Marc Prensky (2013) claims the curriculum and theory have changed very little since Victorian time, he goes on to say,

“We need a new curriculum (…) we are going to have to create the education of the future because it doesn’t exist anywhere today (…) a whole new core of subjects is needed, focusing on the skills that will equip today’s learners for tomorrow’s world of work” (Prensky, 2013: online).

These skills include problem-solving, creative thinking and collaboration. Similarly, Sugata Mitra (2015) a professor from Newcastle University argues, the system is producing identical people for a machine that no longer exists.  Consequently, in a technology driven society one could question how present day schooling is preparing students for the future.

The following video emphasizes the assertions of this introduction.

This interactive essay aims to analyse the use of technology in primary school classrooms.  It will first consider the recent changes to the curriculum and then it will discuss digital literacy and critical thinking in primary school settings. This will include whether Howard Rheingold’s Crap Detection would aid children with new skills such as searching for the ‘authority of the text’ thus allowing them to become critical thinkers.


 The National Curriculum

The National Curriculum (2013) states high quality computing education will ensure pupils are taught a range of computing skills that will equip them with the foundational knowledge and understanding needed to participate in this digital world. Furthermore, former education secretary Michael Gove (2014) asserts the new computing curriculum allows teachers and schools more freedom, and so teachers are not to just equip students with computer skills, but inspire them.

Despite the replacement of the old ICT teacher training schemes with the new computer science ITT courses, it has been criticised that technology is not becoming sufficiently embedded in classroom practice. According to Schleicher (2015: 150) “schools and education systems are on average, not ready to leverage the potential of technology”. Therefore teachers may not be integrating technology in their teaching as many remain uncertain about its benefits and importance. Complementary to this, Patterson (2015) reported that the majority of schools lack access to the right technology and support in order to get the best from it.  He further claims that teachers report technology is more often a disrupter then an enabler of teaching and learning in the classroom.

The National Curriculum (2013) also states children should be taught internet safety, responsibility and acceptable online behaviours , so this leads to the next part of the essay.

217f97bThe core of computing is computer science which allows children the opportunity to be taught how digital systems work and how to put this knowledge to use through programming (National Curriculum, 2013). Therefore it could be disputed the new curriculum teaches precisely the sort of skills which the jobs of the future demand. This has been criticised by Fernando (2016) – the founder of digital transformation company Freeform, as he argues that coding is a useful skill, however the emphasis is on process rather than meaning, so it is not enough to develop the minds of children. Interestingly Jones (2013) claims computing ensures that pupils become digitally literate. But how does one define digital literate? According to the National Curriculum (2013: online);

“Digitally literate is the ability to use and express themselves and develop their ideas through information and communication technology- at a level suitable for the future workplace, and as active participants in a digital world”.

Complementary to this, Hague and Payton (2010) assert that digital literacy includes critically engaging with technology and developing social awareness. In short, “digital literacy allows young people to participate meaningfully and safely as digital technology becomes ever more pervasive in society” (Hague and Payton, 2010: online). Thus, it could be suggested digital literacy is an important entitlement for all young people in an increasingly digital culture. However, the notion of digital literacy and how it may translate to teaching and learning is not always well understood. Jones (2013) claims is it a challenge to assess computing as teachers find is hard to judge pupils knowledge and understanding based on the outcome of practical tasks. Working collaboratively results in the teacher unable to identify each individual’s contribution.

Perhaps digital literacy in the classroom could provide pupils with the opportunity to become more involved in their learning. For instance, peer assessment and evaluation could be helpful in assessing digital literacy as this allows learners to participate in their own assessment, thus creating an effective way to encourage reflection. Furthermore, digital literacy allows learners to become active constructors of knowledge in the classroom which suggest a different role for the teacher, that of a facilitator.  Similar to the constructivist theory in which a teacher becomes a facilitator and cognitive guide, promoting the use of group discussion and collaboration. Working collaboratively in small groups is an obvious constructive approach to learning and the advantage of group discussion is highlighted by Piaget and Vygotsky (1978: cited in Galloway, 2001) who placed emphasis on the social nature of learning. As students engage with others they construct new knowledge and develop critical thinking skills to seek answers. The following video highlights the importance of Digital Literacy

Subsequently, a digital literate student is not just passively receiving information but also contributing to its analysis of it. Hague and Payton (2010) pointed out that this requires critical thinking.

“If we teach children to read and write, provide them with factual information, but do not equip them with the cognitive skills to understand, appreciate, transfer or connect ideas, then the information they have may be meaningless in the future” (Hague and Payton, 2010: 38)

However, encouraging and developing critical thinking requires time for thoughts and questions, something that maybe difficult due to the constraints of the overwhelming curriculum. Yet Paulo Freire strongly argued children should be learning critically, continuously reflecting with an open mind-set and a sense of mission. It could be suggested detached coding lessons cannot create this enthusiasm. Fernando (2016) asserts that schools should give children the critical thinking skillset that will allow them to become future engineers.

If a child is not taught to think critically then how can they be expected to use the internet safely? Perhaps the use of Howard Rheingold’s Crap Detection 101 could be of great use to children and further develop their critical thinking skills.


Crap Detection

Interestingly, in ‘How to thrive online’ Rheingold (2012) wrote that teaching children to evaluate creditability and information will result in them being more cautious about trusting strangers. Rheingold (2012) criticises current curriculum and questions how classrooms and schools can be reformed enough so that critical and lively people can be nurtured there? It is apparent there is an inconsistency of teaching approaches and strategies regarding online safety and so schools need to ensure children from a young age are given the opportunity to develop appropriate technical and social skills. Complementary to this Henderson (2013) claims ensuring young people have the knowledge to operate safely online will develop their critical understanding of the online environment.

A simple acronym for children to follow is an effective way for schools and teachers to develop children’s critical thinking skills, thus improving their internet safety awareness knowledge.





Many children are surrounded by technology from a young age, so is it fair to expect children to engage in a lesson with such a lack of technology when in their everyday life’s they Care constantly surrounded by digital technologies? Technology today can provide a great quantity of information for children, yet it is important that schools allow children to develop their critical thinking skills from a young age so children can determine the good information and the poor information. It is apparent that allowing teachers to become facilitators in the process could result in children generating their own knowledge. Through analysing, questioning and evaluating information children can find answers and make an informed opinion. As identified by Rheingold (2012), if schools taught children a literacy skill to determine the creditability of information found on the internet then the more successful they will likely be. Perhaps increasing the number of people who can distinguish bad information from good information could result in an improved internet experience for everyone.

Plagiarism & Copyright

With any academic work it is essential to consider plagiarism. However, because this is an interactive essay which incorporates digital technologies it is also important to consider copyright issues. Plagiarism is defined as “passing off” someone else’s work as one’s own whereas copyright is a legal concept, providing the creator of the original work exclusive rights to it. In both cases the creator has the right to be credited or recognised for their work.

In this essay the authors have been cited and listed in the reference list. According to Bielefeld and Cheesemen (2007) citing sources and engaging in conversation adds strength to an essay and demonstrates the student’s awareness of plagiarism. It is important to note in this interactive essay, videos such as Marc Prensky and Sugata Mitra are hyperlinked to reference these sources. Information from videos should be considered the same as any other sources which are used for academic purposes. As discussed previously, this relates back to Howard Rheingold’s Crap Detection where the acronym ‘CRAP’ can be applied, enabling students to detect credible sources.

Similarly, the videos in the essay have also been listed in a reference list. However, when people publish their videos on YouTube they are given the option to enable or disable the share button for their video. Therefore if they choose to share their video they provide the HTML code, thus allowing others to use their video. Yet, it could be disputed not everyone is ‘knowledgeable’ regarding copyright issues.


Bielefeld, A and Cheesemen, L. (2007). Technology and Copyright Law: a guidebook for the library. research and teaching professions. New York. Schumann Publishers.


Fernando, G. (2016). Coding lessons are good, but not enough. We need the next generation of Brunels, too. Available Online at:


Galloway, C, M. (2001). Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching and Technology. Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology Teaching. University of Georgia.


Gove. M. (2014) Michael Gove Speaks about Computing and Education Technology. Available Online at:


Hague, C, and Payton, S. (2010). Digital Literacy Across The Curriculum. Futurelab. Bristol.


Henderson-Martin, H. (2013) Experiences of e-safety within primary school education. In: ICERI2013 Proceedings. Seville, Spain: International Academy of Technology, Education and Development (IATED). 9788461638475 / ISSN: 2340-1095. pp. 4202-4207.


Jones, P, S (2013). Computing in the National Curriculum: a guide for primary teachers. Computing at School Educate. Engage. Encourage. In collaboration with BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT COMPUTING AT SCHOOL EDUCATE • ENGAGE • ENCOURAGE In collaboration with BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.


National Curriciulum. (2013). National Curriculum in England, Computing Programs of Study. Available Online at:


Patterson, G. (2015). Cracking the tech literacy challenge: crowdsourcing ideas to help build a culture of tech literacy for the nation. British Tele Communication Plc. Available Online at:


Rheingold, H. (2012). How to Thrive Online. The MIT Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England. Available Online at:


Schleicher, A. (2015). Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection. PISA, OECD Publishing. Available Online at:


Digital Video References

EF Explore America. (2012). What is 21st Century Education?. [Online Video]. 15/03/2012. Available from: [Accessed: 11 March 2016].


Howard Rheingold. (2011). Crap Detection 101. [Online Video]. 17/02/2011. Available from: [Accessed: 01 March 2016].


Learning for the 21st Century. (2012). Use a Learning Theory: Constructivism. [Online Video]. 30/12/2012. Available from: [Accessed: 07 March 2016].


Marc Prensky. (2014). The World Needs a New Curriculum. [Online Video]. 23 October. Available from: [Accessed: 22 March 2016].


Mark Heninger. (2013). Why Our Kids Must Learn to Code. [Online Video]. 01/03/2013. Available from: [Accessed: 02 March 2016].


Sugata Mitra. (2013). TED 2013 Winning Talk. [Online Video]. 28/02/2013. Available from: [Accessed: 15 March 2016].


TED Talks Joe Ruhl. (2015). [Online Video]. 27/05/2015. Available from: [Accessed: 11 March 2016].


University of Derby. (2014). Digital Literacy and Why it Matters. [Online Video]. 05/11/2014. Available from: [Accessed: 09 March 2016].


8 thoughts on “Technology in the Primary School Classroom: The ability to transform how children learn restricted by an out-dated system

  1. I think this essay makes some very valid points. From the point of view of a teacher we are often encouraged to incorporate interactive technology into our teaching methods, but not necessarily into the learning of the students. Schools simply don’t have the budgets for children to have tablet computers or laptops in every classroom and the technology that they do have is often out of date.

    As a mother whose child has problems with motor skills and other as yet undiagnosed additional learning needs, I am screaming out for my son to have access to better technology so that he can try less traditional methods for recording his learning. Intelligent children shouldn’t be left behind just because handwriting isn’t their strongest skill. My son is very tech savvy and could really thrive if the learning was adapted. Very few of us can work now without constant access to technology, why are our children expected to learn with very little access to it?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When technology works it works well but given that it invariably fails when you most need it as a teacher it can hinder as much as help.
    Children need to be taught the value of technology certainly but it is not the be all and end all as living in the world requires much more than than the ability to use technology. Sadly, increasingly children start school with a lower vocabulary than ever before; they struggle with basic turn taking and attention. I believe, as do many of my colleagues, that this stems from an over reliance on technology at home, in some homes children are clearly given tablet devices etc as a way of child minding- keeping children quiet and out of the way.
    It is vital to teach children e-safety but also their parents too. The speed at which technology develops often leaves parents behind.
    Overall, my personal opinion is that whilst technology is important and has a place in the classroom it is no greater than the need to be taught to read, use maths or interact appropriately.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the essay makes good valid points.

    Technology does come at a cost but this does not mean that each student need to have tablets.

    This can be more interactive with the teacher leading the technology from the front of the class and encouraging feedback which can help in learning children about using technology safely.

    I think it is good for children to work together to share feedback and for the teacher to facilitate.

    Literacy and communication is also a big part of technology so that they have confidence in what they are saying and who their audience may be, for example when communicating through email or providing guidance.

    Although the future is technology it needs to be balanced. We shouldn’t forget the basics such as grammar, handwriting skills and numeracy.

    From an employer point of view it is very important that children are taught technology in schools as this will form part of their roles, from applying for jobs and accepting offers and for their day to day work and communication or for accessing documents.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a very interesting piece of research and a highly innovative approach to seeking feedback.

    There are some very valid points raised both in relation to the learning styles of primary children here and the importance of the early development of digital skills but one or two aspects perhaps could perhaps be explored further….

    There is little doubt that the wider skills set that confidence in using technology brings to young people of all ages is a good thing but the learning is dependent on the confidence of the teacher in deploying the technologies. Whilst ITT may factor in here there are certainly many teachers of long standing in the primary sector who may lack the confidence in their own abilities to deliver lessons using digital technology and therefore an underlying resistance to change may continue to impede this development in primary education.

    In addition are there any further opportunities to look at the political climate here? You rightly discuss the national curriculum which is prescriptive but the current government approach to education is also very traditionalist in relation to, for example, what used to be referred to as the Three Rs of Reading, wRiting and aRithmatic…….politicians do not use the language of digital skills development often in relation to primary education and it suggests this is something that government potentially believes is more appropriate for secondary age pupils and beyond, as they get closer to the workplace? Is the question then not just about how technology development can support primary age pupils but how you drive the cultural change in those who fund it and those who deliver it to create a space in primary classrooms where it would thrive?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Perhaps providing feedback on an interactive essay requires interactive elements itself?! What is interesting about being asked to provide feedback on your essay is that it becomes more than just about the content of what you write and also goes beyond a critique on academic writing style, so my feedback will be about the method of presenting your content, the type of feedback it encourages as well as the content itself.

    Receiving feedback from a network initially relies on being part of a network to begin with so I am interested in how you have gone about this (my invitation was from your tutor) perhaps you have shared a link to this essay more widely using different forums and social media tools. The format of a blog post and comments box for feedback perhaps changes what you receive as feedback as well as how it is fed back to you. For me proving feedback in this way is much more conversational, I might get a response back from you and it might become a discussion. Often when providing feedback to students it is as their tutor and the work is graded at the same time so the focus (in my experience) is on the grade and not the critique or potential discussion. This is also a very rich source of feedback for you, potentially far reaching in its scope as well as scale.

    I am very interested in the focus of your essay, its content and you bring together several points that are relevant in relation to the technology enhanced learning/use of digital technologies in the classroom for Primary school children. For me the interactive sources although relevant do seem to hold you back from writing in more depth at times – I want to know what you think about the argument and content within these sources more rather than just letting them speak for themselves. Perhaps alerting the reader/listener to a particular moment in the resource that is pertinent to your point for example – I say this because one of the sources is over 30 minutes long. As a resource for learning about this topic area perhaps this is less of an issue. So what is an interactive essay? Is it a curated collection of thoughts, insights and media to be approached like a blog post or should it be as formal as an academic essay enhanced by technology? – These questions are for me as well! A couple of the links require additional separate logins so I was not able to access them – easily missed when proof-reading yourself.

    The critique of the computing curriculum for Primary schools is interesting and I personally think it is a positive step even if it is process focused. It is understanding the processes that empower learners and makes that learning transferable to other contexts. It goes beyond just inspiring learners it is helping them to think about how they might use technology in the future, not just be users of it now.

    The content and design of your essay have prompted thought and interest and I have enjoyed providing feedback in this way. I would be interested to read about your experience of this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would like to start by saying how much I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and provide feedback.

      Sharing the blog- I do plan to use social media to share my blog, after the submission deadline.

      I was not aware of the additional logins to see the moovlys so I thank you for bringing this to my attention. It has now been updated.

      My experience of the interactive essay has been quite an interesting learning journey. Up until five weeks ago I didn’t know what a hyperlink was, I was an avid reader of books and my attitude was very much ‘out- dated’ regarding technology. This is no longer the case, which my tutor will be very pleased to hear. Getting to grips with Moovly, YouTube and blogs was somewhat of a challenge for me. As you mention interactive sources although relevant do seem to hold me back from writing in more depth at times and I would have preferred to write more. Maybe the question here is what other links I could have used other than videos or maybe the essay did not need to be enhanced with videos? Would the use of the blog being shared to gain feedback be enough to make it interactive?

      Other students are creating a video/ podcast/ sway as a way to present their essay. However my decision for using a blog was so I could gain further feedback and knowledge. Something I have discovered whilst doing my degree is that knowledge ends once an assignment has been submitted. Why? I find it frustrating, especially when it is a topic that I find interesting. During the research process of an assignment I discover new ideas and theories, yet once submitted and graded it ends there. What I have discovered through my interactive essay is that knowledge doesn’t have to end here. People have commented and prompted further questions, some I have thought of myself whilst writing the essay, unfortunately as with most essays I was restricted by the word count and learning outcomes.

      The blog is allowing me to gain opinions from primary school teachers themselves, who have the experience of what is happening in primary schools now. It has also allowed me to gain the view of a parent who mentions the issue of children with additional learning needs and the benefit of technology in this case, yet the primary school doesn’t have access to the correct technology. Someone also mentions the idea to further look at those who deliver technology creating a space in primary schools where it would thrive. All these ideas could be explored further and develop even more knowledge. For me I am excited to see what other ideas this blog can produce.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My comments are mostly on the presentation format of the essay. I really like the inclusion of multi media links/inserted videos and a format that invites a richer engagement and interactivity than a conventional essay. I would think that this assignment brief is much more appealing as an option for students who are skilled in the application of technology and find it a creative medium of communication. The availability of technology for me offers, rich, creative forms of expression that are not yet exploited and employed effectively in our education system. Your work represents an adventurous foray into trying something new. We are curious and creative creatures ever looking for more interesting ways to communicate and express our unique view of the world. I have some thoughts for those teachers who sit frustratingly on the fringe of technology. Not quite able to immerse themselves in the emerging culture. I encounter many talented teachers who can see the huge potential of technology in learning but are not adequately supported in their own learning journey around its application to the work they do with their students. Consequently, they remain interested but not quite engaged in the opportunities that are on offer.


  7. This is such an interesting subject that can spark so much discussion. However, having read through your essay blog and the comments made so far, what really stands out to me is the massive divide between incorporating technology (that, as a side point, is developing at a rate far quicker than any budget or funding could keep up with) into education and the current ways in which pupils/students are familiar with or are asked to evidence their learning and furthermore, the way that it is graded. Using your own project as an example, although enhanced with technology, is a traditional essay format with a restricted word count, that is graded on your content and not that of the feedback included ie there is no option for you to develop your project as you discover more from these comments. It feels as though schools and other educational establishments are trying to shoehorn technology into their current curriculum’s, lesson plans and classroom spaces. Surely it would make more sense to develop these aspects of teaching into a more modern format that goes beyond making use of the physical technology, but embraces the way that technology has changed the way all of us learn and interact with each other on an everyday level.


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