Inspired By Gary Spracklen of Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA), United Kingdom
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conducted a study on the correlation between test performance and technology usage in the classroom. In the last quarter of 2015, they released their findings in “Students Computers and Learning: Making the Connection”. In summary, their results suggested “no noticeable improvement” in standardized test scores (PISA) for reading, mathematics, or science in countries that heavily invested in classroom technology; thus, they do not believe expanding access to high-tech devices (1:1 Chromebook programs) will abate falling test scores.
Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at OECD, warns that this analysis “should not be used as an ‘excuse’ not to use technology, but as a spur to finding a more effective approach”. Gary Spracklen and his colleagues at IPACA stand by the effectivity of technology in learning and in response have created the Educational Digital Maturity Index (EDMI) –a 6-prong guide to achieve a great technologically-integrated learning environment.
Here are the six domains for success, each accompanied by a tip to aid you in applying each to your own classroom:
1. Digitally Mature Leaders
Ask questions that assess how a leader integrates and dictates technology into his/her projects and to those he/she leads.
According to Forbes, many business leaders are “getting more involved in technology decisions than ever before”. Business and technology have become truly complementary: Forbes gives the example of engine manufacturers relying on software to push forward production. The same relationship can be envisioned for tech in the classroom, as an enhancement to traditional teaching methods – an interactive resource that broadens the mind, an unlimited wealth of information.
2. Digitally Mature Teachers
Address the ability of the teacher to instruct his/her students using technology.
The rise of technology was rapid, but teachers can gradually incorporate technology into lesson plans by using online news articles as a topic of discussion or showing videos to better illustrate a concept just learned in class. For a more exhaustive list of ideas, check out “Integrating Technology in the Classroom: It Takes More Than Just Having Computers” by Education World or Scholastic’s “Teach With Technology” page. There are a wide variety of resources available including Youtube for Schools and Google for Education.
3. Digitally Mature Students
Observe how your students interact with technology and make sure they know how to properly use their devices.
Resist the generalization that children are masters of technology. Instead, provide a foundation for your students by teaching them the best technology practices and online safety measures. This includes providing guidelines for how to advantageously conduct research on the web; students have to evaluate search results and sort for reliability, validity, and relevance. Condition students to be their own best filter! This in time can be more effective than school internet filters or even safe search.
Also remind students of what it means to be a good digital citizen and clarify proper online behavioral conduct. Being a good digital citizen not only improves the user’s experience but also foils the growing trend of cyberbullying.
4. Digitally Relevant Curriculum
Examine lesson plans to ensure appropriate and effective technology use.
Technology is helpful, but not necessary in every facet of education – make it sure it enhances your lesson plan, and does not merely serve as a distraction or time filler. Many established organizations such as Scholastic, BrainPop, PBS Kids, National Geographic Kids publish educational material online for classroom use. OER Commons provides a database of free learning materials commonly used by teachers nationwide. In addition, taking polls or mini quizzes using mobile devices before or after a lesson is a good way to assess student knowledge and retention rates.
5. Robust and well designed infrastructure
Appraise your school’s capabilities, questioning whether the framework will be enough to support the tech innovations.
Not all schools are built equally, but the coming years will see the rise of “digital classrooms” according to EdTech. Classroom make up hasn’t changed drastically in the last 50 years, but rapid growth is afoot. In order to be equipped for the revolution, digitally mature leaders are already planning and making technical adjustments to ease the transition. Schools can upgrade their Wi-Fi, double device connections per student; automate network access; and reinforce their online security systems.
6. An understanding of how classroom spaces, buildings, and campuses support the use of technology
Notice the existing classroom culture, consider how the introduction of technology will interact with already established device policies.
This parallels robust and well designed infrastructure – make sure learning spaces are able to handle the introduction of mobile devices. On a non-technical note, be sure to establish rules for device usage just like you have classroom policies that are age-appropriate. Many school systems – especially those who allow students to bring their own device (BYOD) – create a contract and have consequences based on a 3-offense system that covers device loss, Appropriate Use Policy (AUP), cyberbullying, etc. Check out this BYOD guide that a Washington Public School system provides its teachers for device management in the classroom.
See Mr. Spracklen’s original post for a list of questions that will help you to evaluate your classroom in relation to the six domains.
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