Redefining Teaching & Learning with Technology
Final Meeting: June 2019summary by Jonathan White
In late June, our Teacher Learning Community met for the final time. Our goal for the year was to examine the impact of educational technology on the classroom, specifically focusing on how it can be used to "redefine" teaching and learning. Each meeting was preceded by some assigned pre-reading. If you're not familiar with TLCs, have a look at the post from our first meeting for some more general information.
Before this meeting, members examined the recently-released report from the Education Endowment Foundation, Using Digital Technology to Improve Learning. This included a 27-page guidance document, together with an A3 "Summary of Recommendations" poster. Additionally, some members also read the digital strategy document released by the DfE earlier this year, entitled Realising the Potential of Technology in Education.
Members began by discussing their experiences trying out some of the enhanced feedback techniques demonstrated at our last meeting. Results of these early experiments were mixed, but generally it was felt that while Kaizena may not be the best tool in all circumstances, there are many ways that we can improve and enhance feedback on student work using the iPads and a combination of audio and video recording.
Moving on, we stepped through each of the columns on the guidance report's Summary of Recommendations (below), with a view to some self-evaluation. The focus on content over medium chimed with the view of many members, as well as the importance of ensuring that pedagogy drives the acquisition and implementation of technology. It was generally felt that the school was very well on track from a leadership perspective, and among many staff, but that adoption of the technology remained somewhat uneven across departments and individuals, and the temptation to be distracted by gimmickry remained an issue at times.
Items three and four in the recommendations led to a certain amount of discussion surrounding assessment tools. Members all felt that these had been well-embedded in many departments. We discussed how departments share these assessments internally, and then how resources generally are shared and ways in which that sharing can be enhanced. Many departments are embedding links to resources directly in their schemes of work as those schemes are redone. One or two departments feel they are beginning to slightly outgrow this approach as the number of resources multiplies, and are investigating other, more scale-able alternatives, such as a department database.
We also discussed support opportunities, such as G&L's iPad Links program. This program involves a single volunteer from each academic department at the school. Links meet termly with me to discuss department initiatives, training needs, etc., and gather feedback from department meetings. Additionally, I've run iPad Links Sharing Sessions several times per half-term. In these sessions, we discuss some new or new-to-us tools, and the research principles that back their successful use. A number of people have commented on how helpful this has been, by setting aside time and brain space for discussing and developing our ideas around digital learning and providing a venue for sharing good practice across the department. We agreed to continue these sessions next year, merging them with the TLC rather than continuing to run the Redefining Teaching and Learning with Technology TLC independently.
On the Apple Regional Training Centre front, we have been approved to continue in this excellent program, and several other TLCs will be running under that umbrella. While none of these will have a 100% digital focus in the same way the Redefining T&L one has, digital learning will inevitably play a roll across all aspects now that our 1:1 iPad program has become an intrinsic part of how we work and how our students learn. Activities of the iPad Link program may also be expanded into the RTC's realm over the next year.