In the fast-paced 21st-Century world that we live in, technological change is constant. As educators, being technologically capable is no longer an added advantage but a must-have skill in order to keep up with our students and to add value to learning.
Many of our schools are still grappling with the struggle between adding new technology, upskilling staff and ensuring there is a pedagogical base to support the introduction of the new tools.
I have been lucky enough to work with many schools on developing ed-tech plans, each school at very different levels. This article will focus on two of these schools, school ‘A’ and school ‘B’. School ‘A’ was very under-resourced, while School ‘B’ had every tool and device you could ever want or need to engage students in learning. Both schools were less than 10 years old and had very different curriculums to work with.
As an educational technology leader, I want the best tools possible to support student learning. However, without the ‘why’ the technology will sit stagnant, as it did in both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ school examples. No matter how much money you invest in technology, it is pointless without purposeful and meaningful pedagogy to support it. Some schools approach ed-tech change by throwing devices into the classrooms and making it look like it is successful, where deep down it is not.
Pedagogy first, technology second!
No matter where your school is in its ed-tech journey there is a moment in time where you need to stop and look at what you have in place to ensure student learning is at the heart and a clear and concise plan is in place.
I am lucky enough to work with many schools to ensure that they go about this process in a smart and well thought out manner.
The first question I always ask schools is ‘why’. Why are you introducing these devices?
Next is ‘how’. How will these devices add value to learning in your school?
Then and only then do we look at developing an ed-tech change plan that starts with the school’s mission/vision and focusses heavily on pedagogy and student learning.
In school ‘B’ (which is extremely well resourced) there was no clear pedagogical plan and they clearly had a ‘technology first’ vision. Whereas school ‘A’ was a pedagogy first, technology ‘never’ school. By this I mean, the school had strong pedagogy in place but lacked funding and a vision to bring in technology to support and extend learning in a meaningful way.
School ‘A’ continues to struggle with introducing tools to support learning. If time was given to develop a clear plan and funding was put aside to support the initiatives I am positive that school ‘A’ would thrive. On the other hand, school ‘B’ is thriving with a strong plan in place to add pedagogy to practice.
School ‘B’ has developed a strong and powerful 3-year plan focused solely on turning around their program to ensure pedagogy is at the forefront of their technology use. A coaching model has been established, mindsets are changing and teachers are beginning to understand the power of the tools that they have at their disposal to add-value to student learning. There is still a lot of work to be done but the time and effort that has gone into turning a technology first school into a pedagogy first school are evident.
Wherever your school is on their ‘ed-tech’ journey, never sit back and get comfortable. Always strive to be better, and always strive to ‘add-value’ to student learning. Always strive to place pedagogy on a pedestal. If it means locking away technology until pedagogy is in place, then do it! Don’t be afraid! If you need help or support, don’t hesitate to ask and if you have powerful stories to share, please leave them below or contact me here or via twitter here.
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