Saturday, 8 February 2014

Are you ready for the next generation of students?

Are you ready to harness and enhance the skills that these new students are bringing to your school?

Traditionally we ask students when entering the classroom, to switch off their phones and put to one side all their skills in the use of new technology. Obviously we cannot continue to let this happen. Schools have a large proportion of teaching staff who do not understand or widely use this new technology. So how do we address this problem?
  • Staff CPD? - anyone who has tried to deliver new technologies CPD to their teaching staff will understand what a thankless task it is. Some staff love it and can't wait to run off and try it. Some staff see you as an 'expert' and they could never hope to replicate  what they see. The vast majority of staff though tend to be apathetic and believe that they have been teaching successfully (or not) for a number of years without the need for technology.
  • Invest in iPads? - it would be naive to believe that by merely purchasing a class set of iPads will give them the tools to succeed. Ultimately it will need an investment in the network infrastructure - wireless, security, MDM solution, filtering, expertise and time to implement and manage the infrastructure and devices.
  • Bring your own device? - pretty much every student has a mobile phone in their pocket that is charged and ready for use. Again we need to invest in the infrastructure to ensure it is capable of dealing with all the extra network traffic that every student with a phone will generate. It also creates a problem of the 'haves and have nots'. Are we going to discriminate against those with no phone or who do not have the latest smart phone? Obviously we can't leave behind those who will probably be our Pupil Premium students. We are supposed to be closing the gaps, not creating a digital divide.
Ultimately the best solution includes all of these. We need an infrastructure that is robust, manageable and adaptable. Who knows which devices we will be using in 5 years time? Therefore, we need to ensure that our infrastructure is capable of adapting quickly without the need for a large capital investment. Students should be encouraged to use their own devices. Parents should be able to purchase iPads through a scheme that the school has arranged in conjunction with a reputable supplier. The school will then be able to provide a device in lessons to those who still 'have not'. Staff CPD now can take place in the classroom. Students will be teaching the teachers how to use the technology and then they need to be encouraged to share their good practice of what worked well in lessons.
Hopefully with all this in place, the technology becomes embedded. Students have access to everything that the technology brings, meaning that the level of work produced is not just a regurgitation of the text books, but also a classroom environment where they can produce blogs, videos, animations, websites, ebooks and anything else their imagination can create.

Flipped Classroom

Flipped Classroom?