Addressing digital citizenship

Surjit Uppal from Activate Learning discusses virtual learning environments

Q: Technology in education is constantly evolving, what do you think was the most significant edtech development in 2015?

A: One of the significant developments is the use of collaborative software that supports peer-to-peer learning, greater communication and real-time learning. Using Google+, Google Glass and 3D printing is making the learning environment more responsive and life-like to capture, explore and share learning as it happens. Capturing the environment allows greater communication, and students supporting each other builds team work skills.   

Q: Were we successful in reducing the digital divide this year? How do you think we can improve on this in 2016?

A: I do feel that there is still a digital divide, and although necessary and needed, BYOD highlights this in a learning environment.  Students who do not have access to their own devices become more noticeable.  However, I do feel that the support mechanisms to borrow/loan a device help these students to still be included.  Also, the development of Learning Zones/spaces, with drop-in accessibility to learning technologies encourages a more innovative approach to learning/sharing/support.

In 2016, I think we should continue to develop learning spaces that support learning with technology and allowing the sharing of knowledge in these areas, that actually create an environment that is needed to still develop communicational skills in the real world. 

Q: The computing curriculum has now been in place for over a year, has it proved to be a success so far, and how do you think we will we see this evolve in 2016?

A: Being a college this doesn’t affect us but I believe it has been a required development to encourage the knowledge and skills of the world of technology that we live in.  Encouraging programming skills a part of the curriculum will only help to develop the programmers to deal with the future developments for all technology, including learning technologies. 

Digital citizenship skills and how to behave online needs to be addressed at an earlier age

Q: E-safety is still a key issue in schools, with cyberbullying presenting a huge problem. What steps can we take to tackle this?

A: e-Safety needs to be a part of curriculum, and everyone needs to understand being respectful still applies online.  Digital citizenship skills and how to behave online needs to be addressed at an earlier age and rather than discouraging social media, if children are taught early by experts they may respect the technology.  If they build their own profiles without the knowledge of the systems, that’s when the bullying develops as they don’t see it as a ‘real’ environment so it can’t be as harmful as real life.  

Q: BYOD adoption continues to rise in our schools and universities. How can we ensure we further reduce the data security risks associated with this next year?

A: Security will always be an issue but being more aware of the dangers & knowing how to keep you secure may actually be taken on as serious if it is taught in a way that makes children aware of the risks they are placing themselves in when engaged with technology. I feel that the problem is that the virtual world to many feels like another existence and not related to the real world. The security of using these devices at home, feels secure but the nature of the interaction may not be secure. The best approach is to make people aware that online is like conducting your business in public – would you carry out that transaction without checking the security of the environment? 

Q: MOOCs, BYOD, WYOD, gamification, are all popular terms and trends seen and used throughout the education sector. What trends will emerge over the coming months?

A: Virtual classrooms, flipped learning moving towards flipped environment!  The classroom is outside and you connect in via web facilities with a community online.

Having just completed a Masters in Usability for MOOCs and online learning, I also feel that learning online will be more interactive and community online focused, not just a content repository but a whole real life classroom environment that provides the supportive nature of being face-to-face.

Surjit Uppal is the Learning Technologies Manager at Activate Learning W: