A “Next Generation” Educational Technology Strategy (i)

A “Next Generation” Educational Technology Strategy (i)

Written in the spirit of sharing, this is how The British School in the Netherlands has clarified the purpose behind its use of Ed Tech. We’re not offering this post, or others, as best practice or suggesting that this is a plan that could transfer anywhere. It is simply what we are doing and why in our context; I hope it may help with others’ thinking in this popular area of educational debate.

Let’s start with a given. No technological device, regardless of price, capability or potential will have a greater impact on student learning than great teaching. However, we believe the effective use of technology has the potential to deliver genuinely transformational learning opportunities in terms of collaboration, swift easy feedback and a personalised pathway through the curriculum.

We analysed feedback and comments from surveys completed by students, staff and parents in order to develop our “Next Generation” strategy.

A bit of context. The BSN was a relatively early adopter of the iPad in its 1:1 Programme in 2012. Our vision then was to move Computing out of specialist rooms towards Ed Tech capability in every classroom. Experience, evaluation and professional research suggested that our approach needed to shift from devices being regarded as a “tech tool” to a much clearer focus on the “learning benefits”.

The strategy commencing in the 2017-2018 school year is based on the following graphic:

Our vision for Ed Tech can be summarised with three words: Pedagogy; Productivity; Security.

Pedagogy: The method and practice of using Ed Tech as a teaching tool. How will using Ed Tech help students to learn and achieve?

Productivity: Being efficient and organised. Knowing how to use the right tools for the right job. Digital Badging is an accreditation for digital skills. Badges are a transferable endorsement of your skill/credentials (several universities are recognising this now).

Security: We have a responsibility to help students manage and engage with their digital world appropriately. A crucial element of the strategy is to provide guidance about how to avoid being compromised online.

Curriculum developments and the inherent abilities of the iPad led to the decision to employ school-owned hybrid computers (tablet and laptop in one) for Senior School students.

Our Junior Schools will continue to use iPads; we found the device continues to support learning with excellent outcomes for our younger students. The only shift here is that the iPads will also become school-owned and school-based; this addressed concerns some parents expressed about distractions during family time.

We have chosen the Microsoft Surface Pro as the preferred device for Senior School students as it is linked to the development of best practice teaching and learning at the BSN (further posts from colleagues will add detail here). The Surface Pro will be introduced to students in a phased implementation starting with Years 7, 8, and 9 in January 2018.

We chose to begin the implementation at Key Stage 3 as these students do not face imminent external examination while teachers perfect their practice. All year groups will be equipped with a Surface Pro by September 2018.

Importantly, our students helped us select the device. You can read their evaluations and reviews of a range of options here.

Taking the expert view…

We rolled out the Surface Pros with senior school staff last week with a comprehensive support plan from IT colleagues:

Carefully considered and phased implementation is crucial

Colleagues will familiarise themselves with the Surface Pros over the summer in preparation for further training during the Autumn 2017 term; it’s vital to embed the device into colleagues’ professional practice.

Swapping desk-tops, lap-tops, iPads etc. for one device to rule them all is a key element in the plan.

This “Next Generation” strategy will build upon our previous experience and ensure that learning benefits are firmly in focus.

I’m looking forward to reading further posts from colleagues as we curate our journey and evaluate the impact.

Matt Bennett has a post ready to go – do read, comment, share.