9 Digital technologies
9.1 This chapter looks at the impact of the use of digital technologies in the classroom on pupil behaviour. Questions about digital technologies were included for the first time in the 2016 wave of the survey. The issue was also explored in the qualitative research with teachers and with P5 pupils.
9.2 The following positive behaviours were perceived to be more common when digital technologies were used for learning and teaching: 'pupils keenly engaging with tasks'; 'attentive, interested pupils'; and 'pupils enthusiastically participating in classroom activities'.
9.3 Digital technologies were thought to help increase engagement in part because they are often highly visual, they enable the 'gamification' of learning, and they can increase pupils' ownership of their learning.
9.4 Staff felt that the use of digital technologies had very little or no impact on the likelihood of serious disruptive behaviours occuring in the classroom.
9.5 Apps designed for school reward systems were seen as effective and engaging.
Impact on positive behaviours
9.6 In the survey, staff were given the same list of 13 positive and 35  negative behaviours discussed in Chapter 4 above, and asked which were more or less likely to occur in the classroom when digital technologies were being used for learning and teaching purposes  . Charts in this chapter show the net percentages of behaviours perceived as more likely or less likely to occur (the percentage of staff saying that the behaviour was more likely to occur minus the percentage of staff saying the behaviour was less likely to occur).
9.7 In both primary and secondary schools, the following positive behaviours were perceived by headteachers and teachers to be more likely to occur when digital technologies were used:
- Pupils keenly engaging with tasks
- Attentive, interested pupils
- Pupils enthusiastically participating in classroom activities.
9.8 Headteachers and teachers in both sectors thought that pupils listening to each other respectfully was slightly less likely to occur when digital technologies were used. Secondary headteachers thought that pupils contributing to class discusssions was less likely (Figure 9.1 – for clarity, and because the views of teachers and headteachers were similar, only the results for teachers are shown).
Figure 9.1: Impact of digital technologies on positive
Bases: secondary teacher 869, primary teacher 366
Reasons for increased engagement
9.9 The qualitative research  with teachers and P5 pupils identified some reasons for increased engagement. The use of digital technologies was one way in which teachers could introduce variety to lessons (see paragraphs 7.15 to 7.16 on variety). However, it was commonly felt that digital technologies – if used appropriately – could help increase engagement, on their own merit, regardless of the variety introduced. The increased engagement stems, in part, from the visual aspect of digital technologies e.g. watching video clips and (pupils) using PowerPoint in lessons. Indeed, teachers in both sectors felt that there was increasing demand for visual stimulus by pupils.
9.10 It was also widely thought that the 'gamification' of learning which digital technologies helped facilitate increased pupil enjoyment and engagement – 'it doesn't feel like hard work' – which in turn led to positive behaviour.
Using a sort of game as a framework for a project…we were doing an under the sea project, it was sort of a virtual reality game where they could catch fish and things like that with deep sea diving. It did really help to engage them.
I think there should be more learning using the computers […] Because it is really fun and then everyone would be happy, then we don't always have to write stuff down.
9.11 Pupils themselves suggested online games as an alternative approach to learning which might work 'if you were not getting something' through another method.
9.12 A related view was that the use of digital technologies led to pupils having more ownership of their learning. For instance, apps allowing pupils to have their own portfolio of work where they can add photos and examples of their classwork. For others, ownership stemmed simply from pupils having more choice ( e.g. selecting games or video clips).
9.13 Where digital technologies involved the use of headphones, it was pointed out that this could minimise the distraction of other pupils being disruptive.
Impact on negative behaviours
9.14 The survey results show that digital technologies were felt to have little or no impact on serious disruptive behaviours  . A small net proportion of secondary headteachers (13%) and teachers (7%) thought that using digital technology abusively ( e.g. malicious posting of comments, photos, videos)' was more likely to occur. Very little difference was reported in primary schools, with headteachers (1%) thinking that it was less likely to occur and no difference reported by teachers.
9.15 Digital technologies were also perceived to have very little impact on most low-level disruptive behaviours. However, in both sectors there was a perception that pupils talking out of turn and hindering other pupils were more likely. Secondary headteachers (net 45%) and teachers (net 40%) also thought that pupils were more likely to use/look at mobile phones and tablets when they shouldn't, while very few of those in the primary sector thought this was the case. A small net proportion of primary headteachers and teachers reported work avoidance to be less likely, while secondary headteachers and teachers reported this to be more likely when digital technologies were being used (Figure 9.2 – for clarity, and because the views of teachers and headteachers were similar, only the results for teachers are shown) .
Figure 9.2: Impact of digital technologies on negative
Bases: secondary teacher 907, primary teacher 334
9.16 In the quantitative survey, pupils using mobile phones when they shouldn't was an increasing area of low-level disruptive behaviour in the secondary sector. In the qualitatiave research, there was the view among secondary teachers that it was difficult to have a clear-cut policy on mobile phone use in the classroom: they can be useful for teaching and learning but it is difficult to monitor whether they are being used for work or personal use.
Digital reward systems for good behaviour
9.17 In the qualitative research, teachers, particularly in the primary sector, frequently mentioned using digital technologies as a way of recording behaviour. Specific apps were cited as being effective and engaging for some pupils. The tools had the further advantage of enabling teachers track individual pupils' behaviour and link parents in to the system.
9.18 One of the other advantages identfied in the qualitative research was that digital technologies could help 'level the playing field' on certain types of task. For example, pupils who struggled with handwriting or spelling could work on a PowerPoint presentation and produce something that looked as good as their classmates' work.
9.19 Levels of engagement and confidence in the use of digital technologies were seen to vary by levels of familiarity – how much the pupil used digital technologies at home – and there was a concern that this might disproportionately affect pupils from the most deprived families. Having said that, it was also felt that using digital technologies in the classroom helped to ensure that those who do not have access at home could do so at school.