It’s interesting to take a closer look at the selection of technology in support of a school’s curriculum and learning outcomes.
Technology in education is a means to an end, not the end in itself. Technology is not a tick in a box – we’re using computers in education so that’s done. Using computers and other technology to be a digital version of what we have always done doesn’t achieve much. Technology can and should enable teachers to create instructional strategies that make better use of the technology for vastly improved teaching and learning outcomes.
Technology in education can play a vital role in preparing students for success in a rapidly-changing world. New entrants to the workforce should possess essential capabilities such as oral and written communications skills and critical thinking and problem solving skills. The research on how to achieve this often includes a reference to “deeper learning.” These skills are foundational to any intent to prepare students for university and/or a career.
Deeper learning should include actual academic skills and content, but what about the ability of students to communicate effectively, to work well in teams, to overcome challenges? These are the kinds of knowledge and skills that are collectively referred to when discussing deeper learning.
Deep learning competencies
These are often referred to as “the 6 Cs,” and are as follows:
- Creativity – having an entrepreneurial eye for economic and social opportunities, asking the right inquiry questions to generate novel ideas, and leadership to pursue those ideas and turn them into action.
- Communication – communicating effectively with a variety of styles, modes, and tools (including digital tools), tailored for a range of audiences.
- Citizenship – thinking like global citizens, considering global issues based on a deep understanding of diverse value and worldviews, and with a genuine interest and ability to solve ambiguous and complex real-world problems that impact human and environmental sustainability.
- Critical thinking – critically evaluating information and arguments, seeing patterns and connections, constructing meaningful knowledge, and applying it in the real world.
- Character – learning to deep learn, armed with the essential character traits of grit, tenacity, perseverance, and resilience; and the ability to make learning an integral part of living.
- Collaboration – work interdependently and synergistically in teams with strong interpersonal and team-related skills including effective management of team dynamics and challenges, making substantive decisions together, and learning from and contributing to the learning of others.
These are quoted from a white paper authored by Michael Fullan and Geoff Scott in 2014. http://www.michaelfullan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Education-Plus-A-Whitepaper-July-2014-1.pdf
Now think about a curriculum that focuses on developing these competencies in the context of a broader curriculum that includes traditional academic skills and content. Then think about the technology that might be compatible with such a curriculum. Minimally spec’d or low-cost devices might fit well within a modest budget, but may compromise and have limited capability to support deep learning.
Solving real-world problems such as generating power from a wind turbine built by secondary school students from scrap metal might require more powerful laptop devices capable of modelling engineering issues and documenting collaborative results and editing video.
Deep Learning competencies are best developed by studying rich content is such disciplines as mathematics, literature, the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the arts.
Broader selection criteria
As important as it is to consider which technologies best support teaching and learning outcomes, there are also other factors to consider.
- Budget considerations – cost is never irrelevant however there is a middle ground between minimally spec’d, low-cost and prohibitively expensive.
- Classroom conditions – technology compatible with cabling, power, and real-estate limitations of the classrooms.
- Sustainability – equipment should be robust and able to withstand the intended school environment and student handling.
- Serviceability – a crucial element in selecting not only technology, but in selecting a provider. Your provider must be able to guarantee service turnaround and repair times so as not to disadvantage students and other users of the technology.
Selecting a provider and partner
The requirements of educational institutions and their communities are highly specialised. We have discussed how vital it is that technology is able to support not only the teaching of academic subjects and skills, but also the development of the competencies that lie at the heart of deeper learning, and their massive impact on the preparation of students for universities and working careers. It is therefore vital that schools work with providers who have strong experience in the education market.
Somerville has specialised in education for all of its 35 years. Almost 50% of its staff work in support of schools. From a service perspective, Somerville guarantees that more than 90% of devices are back in the hands of students within 24 hours. We negotiate the best deals and warranties with top tier technology brands. Our Education Director, David La Bozzetta has been working with schools since 1998, and has a wealth of experience leading highly respected education technology companies to support the transformation of learning. David and our team of experts enjoy engaging closely with schools to help drive change to make learning more effective and enjoyable for kids and equip schools to meet the challenges of 21st Century learning. If you have questions or concerns about selecting the right technology for your school, we are here and are more than happy to help. Don’t hesitate to reach out today. (hyperlink ‘reach out’ to our contact form on the website.