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Tuesday, 15 September 2015

OECD: A Response

A global study from the OECD has gained mass media attention today, including this headline from the BBC -

BBC Education Website - 15th September, 2015
As is often the case though, it's important to look beyond the headline. Strangely, in this case, the OECD actually makes a convincing case for technology use in education.

See below for some useful quotes from the forward of the report which James Penny (@JSPenny1) has kindly pulled out and listed on his blog here-

‘Technology can amplify great teaching but technology cannot replace poor teaching’
‘If we want students to become smarter than a smartphone, we need to think harder about the pedagogies we are using to teach’
‘We need to get this right in order to provide educators with the learning environments that support 21st Century pedagogies and provide children with the 21st Century skills they need to succeed in tomorrow’s world.’
‘Why should students be limited to a textbook that was printed two years ago, maybe designed ten years ago, when they could have access to the world’s best and most up-to-date textbook.’
‘Perhaps more importantly technology can support new pedagogies and collaborative workspaces. For example, technology can support new pedagogies that focus on learners as active participants with tools for inquiry-based pedagogies and collaborative workspaces.
‘……….technology can enhance experiential learning, foster project-based and inquiry-based pedagogies, facilitate hands-on activities and cooperative learning, deliver formative real-time assessment and support learning and teaching communities, with new tools such as remote and virtual labs, highly interactive non-linear courseware based on state-of-the-art instructional design, sophisticated software for experimentation and simulation, social media and serious games.
‘To deliver on the promises technology holds, countries will need a convincing strategy to build teachers’ capacity. And policy-makers need to become better at building support for this agenda.’
‘… is vital that teachers become active agents for change, not just in implementing technological innovations, but in designing them too.’

Now, what the actual focus of the report seems to be saying is, 'When we use tech for Pisa style tests do we see improvement? Answer no...' ...but as the above illustrates that misses the point. 

This is not about a 'golden bullet' for learning but more about using technology as one of many tools to deliver change.

Here at the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy we’ve been looking at how we make learning better. Challenging ourselves to understand what makes a difference and what will give our learners the vital edge in their future lives. We always knew technology was essential but there are other things we knew we needed to look at.

Working with James Penny  (@JSPenny1) from our technology partner European Electronique we’ve come up with a new way of thinking about all the things that we think need considering when looking at creating a truly great learning environment. We’ve grouped these under the title of an Educational Digital Maturity Index – EDMI. This defines six domains where we think it is essential to think hard and ask questions about what you are doing. EDMI links well with the quotes pulled out from the above OECD report.

The six domains are:

1. Digitally Mature Leaders – How do leaders use technology? How do they encourage others to use technology? Is the use of technology fully embedded into their vision for the organisation? How does their vision for technology support enhanced outcomes?

2. Digitally Mature Teachers – Are teachers confident about using technology? Do they have technology embedded into their pedagogical practice? Do teachers share their great practice between each other? Do teachers use technology to teach and work across areas of knowledge?

3. Digitally Mature Students – We often think of students as the master of technology but often they need as much support as everyone else. Are all students confident in using technology? Are all students able to access and use technology? Does the use of technology support students to perform better?

4. Digitally Relevant Curriculum – Without a review of the curriculum technology can often not be fully exploited. Have leaders and teachers reviewed the curriculum to ensure that technology is being used effectively? Have curriculum activities been specifically designed to make effective use of what technology can offer? Will the curriculum take advantage of the opportunities for out of school learning?

5. Robust and well designed Infrastructure – Has the infrastructure been designed to support the multiple personal devices that might be deployed? Has the connectivity been checked to see if it is sufficient? Has the active network infrastructure been configured to support the data it will need to process? Has the wireless infrastructure been designed to support the device strategy?

6. An understanding of how classroom spaces, buildings and campuses support the use of technology – Traditional classroom and ICT sites support certain types of technology. What happens when you suddenly introduce mobile devices? Are traditional learning spaces suitable for mobile personal learning? Do classrooms have the spaces and facilities to make mobile learning successful?

The EDMI is underpinned by an understanding of school effectiveness and school improvement, drawing reference from research by the Institute of Education on school effectiveness, linking the use of technology to school improvement.

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