Scotland: Getting it right for teachers and technology

In the wake of Brexit, I welcomed children back into my classroom this morning and it was as if nothing in the world was any different to last week. They have certainly been aware of it and keen to discuss it for months, but today, it was not even mentioned. Yet the walk to school, for me, felt very different. I am not trying or wanting to get political here, or share my own opinion, but many will feel sad at the fact that they are no longer European. Yet, during my walk to school today, I came across a new document released by Education Scotland and it reminded me of one of the main reasons I am proud and glad to be living north of the border. This new document gives me further confidence that educators in Scotland want to do things properly and appreciate that effective technology is a significant factor in ensuring that we are offering the best opportunities for our young people.

What Digital Literacy Might Look Like

Education Scotland has released a document called 'What Digital Literacy Might Look Like'. If you are interested enough to read my indifferent blog posts, I would certainly encourage you to look at this document, regardless of where in the world you are teaching.

The aim of the document is to provide examples of learning activities and how they can be incorporated into a range of contexts which satisfy learning objectives up to Second level (transition between Primary and Secondary education in Scotland). At first glance, it looks very similar to the Technologies outcomes which Scottish teachers will be familiar, but what they've done is added an additional column with suggested learning activities. The lesson ideas are not complicated, nor are they exhaustive, but they do offer educators with very clear suggestions of how they can incorporate digital literacy and computing science experiences and outcomes into cross-curricular contexts.

"What level of prior knowledge students are coming into a lesson or curriculum with?"

What I think is really exciting about this document though, is that it provides teachers or schools who perhaps lack the confidence to approach these areas of the curriculum a very clear road map of skills and how they should progress and be developed at different stages of education. It encourages educators to look at the experiences being provided for learners and to ask themselves what level of prior knowledge students are coming into a lesson or curriculum with; knowing the existing level of digital literacy learners come with is critical.

So what does a suggested lesson look like?

The very first key concept covered is the ability for our youngest learners to use digital products and services in a variety of contexts to achieve a purposeful outcome. So this is an outcome that should be built into the curriculum of a child in nursery or entering a formal classroom in Primary 1, however could still be appropriate in Primary 2. Some of the suggested activities are:

  • Gather examples of landmarks and people in the local community by taking screen shots from Google Earth or Apple Maps.

  • Flyover Capture photos and videos from a trip out in the local community and then collate and discuss these back at the nursery/class. Learners can then discuss what the image will be used for and if the learners have permission to use or share the image.

  • Use multimedia apps,such as Draw and Tell or Chatterpix Kids to express their thoughts and demonstrate their understanding by recording their voice and adding it to a photo to create an animation.

So, what is really pleasing to see, is that not only are educators being given lesson or activity ideas, the document also recommends how to execute these and what apps or pieces of software could be used. This means that regardless of confidence levels, teachers can look to incorporate these activities into their planning.

What I would say, is that the majority of activities are designed to suit schools who have adopted a 1:1 device policy and probably one which utilises app-based devices such as iPads. This is of course reflective of the significant investment being made in schools across Scotland to provide iPads and to encourage teachers to adopt this technology. Glasgow has already started a deployment of 70,000 iPads - the largest single deployment outside of the U.S.

So, if you want to enjoy teaching with technology, come to Scotland... or at least spend some time looking at this awesome document.

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