Not just the challenges around online safety and cybersecurity, but the risk of making the wrong technology choices and the subsequent waste of time and funding if that happens.
From the myriad of edtech solutions on the market, what’s the best way to select the ones your school needs? Naturally, the priority is teaching and learning, but don’t forget that technology can also help you work more efficiently, as well as contribute to saving staff time, increasing well-being and spending less money. Therefore, it’s worth considering a strategy that embraces the whole school so everyone can benefit from those gains. But how do you start and what should you think about? Let’s take a look…
At the heart of every school’s digital plans will be the need to incorporate evidence-based technology solutions that enhance classroom pedagogy and align with its objectives. But that doesn’t mean it should only be school leaders and educators around the discussion table. The best digital strategies are formed by hearing – and considering – contributions from all sides. After all, there is little point in progressing plans for a substantial edtech implementation if the infrastructure is not in place to support it – something that would have been obvious had the network manager been included from the start. Of course, curriculum content is the priority in a digitally led school. But technology aids and supports the learning process in many other ways that are well worth considering as part of your digital strategy. There’s accessibility to think about (tools to help students participate and better access learning resources) – and wellbeing, too. Saving teachers’ valuable time with quicker ways to hand out work to students and collect it afterwards, is always welcome, as well as enabling them to provide immediate feedback, so students can immediately register the improvements they need to make. Online assessment tools can provide immediacy for the teacher by offering a real-time overview of students’ progress – and auto-marking can immediately identify learning gaps, enabling educators to take timely action to close them.
Also, consider the critical role edtech can play in supporting online safety and providing a protected learning environment in which students are free to make mistakes in safety. Technology can provide teachers with an overview of the trending online safety topics in the school, the ability to identify and support vulnerable students, and even allow them to confide in trusted staff from their devices. The online world is vast, with many dark corners hidden amongst the lighter sides, and learning the skills to navigate it responsibly takes time. Choosing the right solution to support that is not only helpful, but necessary – and considering several options can help you drill down to the one that is right for your school’s context.
Set your strategy up for success
Building your strategy on solid foundations will give you the best chance of realising your goals. Here are some of the core areas to consider as you begin:
- Reflect on your current provision before you move forward and do a thorough audit to avoid duplication.
- Be clear on your objectives and what you want your technology to achieve.
- Hear views from all stakeholders across the school – and don’t forget parents, where appropriate. This way, you will also gain more support for your digital goals.
- Align your strategy with your school development plan for maximum impact.
- Consider infrastructure and its provision to support the technology you will implement now and in the future.
- Is it working? Identify the ways that you will gather the evidence you need to be able to see whether your implementation is delivering results.
Eyes on the prize
Your digital strategy will outline your school’s edtech objectives and set out the collective steps you will take to achieve them, measure their impact and move forward. My advice is that less is more. Don’t try to do everything at once. Introducing and embedding one edtech initiative at once means you can concentrate on the nuances and ensure nothing is missed. Following this kind of sustainable process, while ensuring that teachers and students have the confidence to use tools effectively, will lead to greater success over time.
Hear more from Al on this topic at GESS Dubai 2022. He’ll be speaking in the Future Transformation Zone on Tuesday, 15th November at midday.