Forging closer links
The continuation of the professional development available through edtech is a high in itself. The rise of educational blogs and the use of Twitter also allow teachers and managers to be more closely linked than previously; and the opportunity to share ideas and resources as a professional community has exploded.
At Edge Grove we regularly share new apps, blogs and hashtags with our staff to help keep them up to date. Alongside this has been the development of teachmeets all over the country where teachers can present for 10 minutes or simply come and listen to other people sharing best practice and ideas. The network for heads and SMTs is also particularly useful, not to mention the chance to chat in real time via Twitter using hashtags such as #sltchat on a Sunday evening at 8pm. Following on from this #mathchat or #engchat also follow the same approach.
The digital pencil case
At Edge Grove our highlight over the last year has been the successful but gradual roll out of one to one iPads to our Year 8 pupils following on from a very successful gradual three-year implementation of iPads at the school. We are looking forward to rolling this out to 40 year 7 pupils in January 2016.
Having witnessed the success in the classroom at Edge Grove, and the ease with which the pupils and staff have grasped and used Google docs as a cloud platform on their iPads, my prediction is that the one to one device or indeed the ‘digital pencil case’ will become mainstream across schools far more quickly than we might have anticipated.
Real time intervention
Our implementation has been based on two elements of focus. The purpose is for an increase in collaboration and creativity. Apps such as Google Docs, Kahoot and Socrative explain everything and allow work to be interactive, shared, commented on and created individually, in pairs or in groups in real time whether in the same room or sitting down for homework. Just recently our Head of English, at home with her sick child was able to comment on the writing on Google Docs in her Year 8 English class in real time as it was happening.
Looking towards the year ahead, I look forward to working closely with other schools locally and abroad via a shared blog and live classroom experience made possible through the use of technology. We intend to write interviews for schools in other countries, which we can conduct through Skype to share classroom-to-classroom experience in real time. I also predict an increased classroom use and development of augmented reality apps for interactive exciting classroom experiences – for instance, manipulation of a 3D virtual beating heart or a revolving solar system in the classroom.
Retaining the power of ‘the teacher in the room’
Challenges arising in 2016 will be the evolving need to keep up to date with e-safety issues for pupils and to educate them and their parents. The term digital native and digital immigrants will become even more relevant to describe to both teachers and parents as this generation, raised on the edtech devices truly do have a different relationship with the world than we do.
Ensuring that staff are up to date will be essential. Parental advice on safety and screen time will also become vital. I question if there will be an increased backlash and understanding of the power and importance of the teacher in the room to convey ideas and help children learn – so much more powerful than looking it up on Google. The challenge will continue to be the need to retain a combination of the two.
Charlotte Johnston is Deputy Head Teacher at Edge Grove Prep School in Hertfordshire.