This afternoon, I sat in with the newly formed Digital Technology Committee. Gaps had been evidenced last year (including the area of digital citizenship arising from research for my Master’s coursework during Concepts and Practices (INF530) and a teacher survey on digital citizenship that I had conducted). We now look forward to consider the myriad issues of technology within the school. This was one of our first meetings where we raised concerns, our thoughts and reflections about where to next. There is a strategic 2016- 2018 ICT plan.  It considers integration and provision (infrastructure and devices). The former consider professional development and learning and pedagogy:

  • digital literacy
  • digital citizenship
  • student led ICT
  • learning analytics (ILP dashboards)
  • personal learning environments
  • gamification and game-based learning

One of the strategic intents that is forward looking is that “teachers integrate ICT into teaching and learning practices where appropriate, and in ways that are transformative for student learning experiences and outcomes” (my bold type). Surprisingly, however, throughout the document, there was no mention of global, collaborative, participatory, and connected  learning. Student voice beyond the above dot point was not considered, nor was how gamification and learning was to be explored, promoted and implemented within teaching practice. Digital literacy needed to be expanded upon to include the new media literacies. This also brings to mind, Doug Belshaw’s 8 Elements of Digital Literacies.

Doug Belshaw
Doug Belshaw

During our meeting, conversation ranged from bringing about transformative practice by using an eLearning planning framework as an umbrella to look at the ‘big picture’ of what is happening within the school, and to provide direction to move forward. This would see the above ICT strategic plan as only one element of how technology is being driven within the school.  Using Google for Education; and providing students with access to global networks and projects as transformative student learning experiences, such as Flat Connections was also raised by myself and another colleague. It was acknowledged that our students will need the skills to work collaboratively, globally and across time distances as they move into their working life (as evidenced in Future Work Skills 2020). However, for these global projects to go ahead in 2017, as teachers we need to be thinking now about implementing them.

I queried how social media as transformative tools for teaching and learning are being incorporated (is it happening in the school, where, what, who or not?) This is another issue in itself, the sharing of best practice across the school community, rather than our immediate colleagues only being aware of innovative learning occurring. While the ‘age appropriate’ aspect and safety issues of social media was discussed for personal student accounts, many of these tools now provide safe “in the classroom” accounts e.g. Skype in the classroom, Using Diigo in the classroom. It reminded me of a digital citizenship workshop that I attended last year where the facilitator stated how we need to be proactive rather than reactionary:

Focus on the “opportunity for learning”  rather than focusing on the “bad stuff” and “putting out the fires”.

It is interesting that many schools adopt social media for marketing purposes, but will not consider them as learning tools. I tweeted a similar reflection in response to a tweet by Eric Sheniger – one of the thought leaders I follow:

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I must agree, especially when I read of social media being used to transform teaching and learning, such as in this article by Beth Holland. The author concludes with:

It is “important is that we introduce all children to social media in appropriate and meaningful ways, regardless of their age, such that they can connect to a global audience and develop as empowered, networked learners.”

However, we do need to look at the ‘big picture’ especially with ethical issues such as data ownership and openness, student identity, access and privacy especially as teachers and schools are increasingly relying on cloud and web 2.0 tools (Rodriquiez-Triana, Martiniz-Mones & Villagra-Sobrino, 2016, p.60.). The authors consider learning analytics within educational settings, yet these same issues have implications for using social media too.  Another discussion that arose, was the amount of ‘screen time’ that our very young students should be allowed. It has implications for whether mobile digital devices will be introduced to our early years students (2 – 4 years of age). One colleague has done extensive reading on current research, and the answer is a resounding ‘NO’.

One issue that did not arise, and yet upon reflection, we do need to discuss, is how to include student voice within our Committee and as the school moves forward on this journey. Perhaps at our next meeting!

Reference:

Rodriquiez-Triana, M.J., Martiniz-Mones, A., & Villagra-Sobrino, S. (2016). Learning analytics in small-scale teacher-led innovations: Ethical and data privacy issues. Journal of Learning Analytics, pp. 43-65. Retrieved from: http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/index.php/JLA/article/view/4581/5428

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