Ideas for using technology to deliver teaching and learning

Written by: Roger Broadie | Published:
Photo: iStock

The Third Millennium Learning Award from Naace recognises schools that provide an education and curriculum for the 21st century. Roger Broadie looks at what lessons we can learn from previous winners

In preparing students for 21st century life, primary schools have been very successful in encouraging their pupils to achieve more. They are able to set high expectations with no limits on the scope of the curriculum, making sure they do not limit the extent to which the children can progress.

For secondary schools, this is a far greater challenge, as the key measure of their accountability comes from GCSE exam results and their resulting league table position.

The connected world demands much more than this. Global competition and career changes through life demand that all young people should love learning, be fully capable of adapting to new technologies, and have the ability to work and collaborate with others outside their own institution.

In its 2012 education report, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) called strongly for schools to ignite children’s thirst for learning and to develop their soft skills such as team-work, personal drive, organisation, and inter-personal communication skills.

In October of this year, Ofsted’s Sir Michael Wilshaw voiced his concerns about the potential “tragedy” of transition, where a child’s spark and excitement for learning dies as they move into secondary school.

To provide a suitable progression from primary, and to equip young people for their lives beyond school, secondary schools should be creating a curriculum that encompasses far more than just exam syllabuses – and some are.

At Naace, a professional association for educators and technologists, we have seen secondary schools succeeding in this through their submissions for our Third Millennium Learning Award. Analysis of what these schools are doing shows that they offer a highly creative curriculum that provides an education which surpasses good traditional learning. They enable pupils to be successful with authentic tasks, problems and investigations, creating innovative products and solutions.

They set a global context for all learning, and use the opportunities provided by technology for pupils to connect and communicate with others. Above all, they create a culture of personal responsibility for learning.

Pupils are given the ability to take ownership of their own education, collaborating with others and engaging in moderated peer and self-assessment. By leading their learning and that of others, they can make progress unlinked from age-related considerations.

Through observing the award submissions made by these schools, we are able to develop a best practice checklist of educational entitlements that secondary school curriculums should be offering to all pupils.

These activities can be addressed in many different subject departments so that pupils can experience them in a wide variety of contexts, such as the following:

  • Researching interactively, manipulating and annotating texts and other sources to research and develop arguments, tagging sources and references, using research tools. For example, this could be done through the use of e-books and tablet software, through which sections can be highlighted for revision.
  • Presenting information and arguments to audiences on video so that pupils can self-assess and peer-assess their effectiveness in communicating what they set out to.
  • Publishing about causes pupils care about. Pupils should be able to convince others of their point of view on issues they consider important in the world and in their lives. Schools can reinforce this through publishing content on their website or creating a video on the subject.
  • Using models and simulations. Dynamically investigating systems that exist in the world around them, both physical and human, in order to develop their investigative skills and ability to reason about cause and effect. Activities that link real-world situations such as games like Stop Disasters (www.stopdisastersgame.org) or interactive projects like the Maths in Motion challenge from Jaguar, can be really effective.
  • Sensing and logging data from the world that surrounds them and from the things that happen in it, in order to gain greater information and insight, to hypothesise and to evaluate theories.
  • Engaging in dramas and presentations, to develop their empathy with situations and abilities to project themselves to others, and to understand better how others see them. These can also be filmed and shared to generate discussions between pupils, classes and schools.
  • Using creative tools to express themselves, to make artefacts of use and interest to themselves and others and to exercise and improve their talents. This could be through creating an interactive website or gallery to showcase their work digitally.
  • Communicating with others online through websites and blogs, become creators and not just receivers of information transmitted over the internet. This will help them to build and manage their online identity. The BBC School Report is an excellent example of how pupils can share information between schools, choosing their own content and producing video content.
  • Engaging in real-life projects for real purposes that have impact, in order to understand that they can have an impact on the world and to develop the skills of working with others to achieve this. For example, in 2012, a group of researchers opened their project to crowdsourcing, allowing participants to attempt a protein-folding exercise in order to find the lowest-energy configuration, which gave young students the opportunity to be involved with real science.
  • Engaging in entrepreneurial activity, in situations where the driver is profit, breaking even or achieving charitable ends. This could be through fundraising efforts, or by establishing a product and business model in the classroom.
  • Learning to learn: children should be able to use data on their own learning and progression so as to develop a clearer understanding of their strengths, weaknesses and achievements. This opens their minds to the possibilities and opportunities for further progression in their learning.
  • Supporting their community, helping others and forging community links that can help pupils develop in the ways they wish to. For example, creating resources for others in the community, such as posters or leaflets outlining certain issues or skills.
  • Communicating and working with young people in other cultures, and preferably other languages, so as to become global citizens. Many schools are now linking with places like Africa, which they can also connect with their work in geography and their fundraising efforts.
  • Collaborating socially online in developing their learning and developing their own personal learning network. Often, the term “flipped learning” is considered to be a very passive activity, where pupils simply consume content online, such as watching topic videos. For effective schools, however, pupils are able to communicate with other students online, contributing materials and ideas on a shared platform.

Conclusion

To successfully address these challenges schools need to ensure that their technology infrastructure is excellent and pupils’ access to devices and ability to choose how best to make use of them is critical.

Schools successfully providing an appropriate curriculum for the connected world also ensure that their computing curriculum is seen to be as important as that of English, maths and science – and that it is delivered in a fully cross-curricular way with subject departments taking full responsibility for teaching computing skills important to their subject.

Above all, schools should remember that children’s enthusiasm for learning is their greatest gift, and in the words of Plutarch: “The correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.”

  • Roger Broadie is the Naace lead for the Third Millennium Learning Award. He has spent more than 30 years of working at the forefront of technology in education.

Further information

The Third Millennium Learning Award celebrates schools’ achievements in creating an environment and curriculum that stimulate more and better learning, making full use of the opportunities presented by technology. Visit www.naace.co.uk/thirdmillenniumlearningaward


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