Technology adoption in Schools

Technology adoption in the educational environment is a challenging endeavour, especially for the teacher at the front of the classroom. The demands placed on teachers continue to grow. With each school offering a technology integration solution to the parent body and the variety of operating systems available make the choices even more difficult.DSC_0194.JPG

The adoption of technology is a long and slow process if it is to be effective. I firmly believe that if we are going to expect teachers to use devices in the classroom environment, we need to supply them with personal devices so that they can experiment and discover applications that will work for them. The provision of devices allows teachers to experiment with the devices and applications before presenting in front of the students and builds confidence in the use of the application and device.

The training of staff is another critical element in the adoption process. For training to be effective, the application of sound teaching methodology needs to be applied as would be done in a classroom. This implies that training must be differentiated, just as we find different abilities in the classroom so we find different strengths in the technology process. The big group practice only causes frustration for all staff at all ability levels, we are either waiting for a staff member or have a staff member feel they lack technical knowledge as they struggle to complete a task. Therefore, training needs to occur on a one to one basis for it to be most effective.

The development of material can then be produced specific to the teachers learning area and the time spent on training is for an actual lesson rather than based on a general task. The best scenario is then to have the trainer join the staff member in the lesson to support the technology integration during the lesson with the learners.

This allows, for the teacher to focus on the delivery and teaching of the content and the technologist to be available to support the delivery and teaching with the device of choice. Teaching can additionally be supported by an IT technician being available to support infrastructure and application issues if the technologist is not available.

Another critical element is the establishment of clear objectives with regards delivery of lessons and the expectations for the teachers. The development of a positive attitude to the integration of technology and the benefits of technology in the classroom must be clearly demonstrated during training. One of the most effective means of sharing is having teachers demonstrate their use of technology to other teachers in their learning area or phase within the school environment. This allows for other teachers to comment on the teaching and gives the teacher presenting the opportunity to reflect on their practice.
DSC_0194“New technologies are changing not only what students should learn, but also what they can learn,” this means that as teachers and leaders in schools, we need to change our thinking with regard to the adoption of technology in the classroom.


Digital Education Show

Yesterday was the opening of the Digital Education Show in Johannesburg. The Programme promised much, however, once again it highlights the haves and haves not and the product sellers and not so much about the methodology and application in the classroom.

Tablets are delivered to schools and online learning platforms are invested in, but there is not adequate infrastructure for the schools to truly embrace the digital experience.

The lack of infrastructure impacts the ability for children to get a holistic education and close the achievement gaps in our country’s school leaving examination.

The conference is a well organised and planned event, however, when are we going to realise that Digital Ed is not about devices and applications, but about how we best apply the technology in the classroom. Effective technology integration in education will only be achieved when service providers, tech companies and educators work on a solution for the South African classroom.

Holidays are so special!

Breaks from the coal face are amazing. Having time to think and ponder over where we are and what is important in our lives is invaluable. The opportunity to spend time with friends and family, without the worry of what is happening on our mobile devices is unparalleled. Being able to dedicate our time to those nearest and dearest is a special reward IMG_0980that cannot have a price.

The joys of holidays and watching our children develop into adults and making mature decisions and taking on responsibility is the most rewarding part of being a parent. The experience of watching them achieve in areas outside of their normal environment is truly heart warming. Whether it is in a physical pursuit or that of an inner battle, they grow and develop when they have our undivided attention.

We need to cherish these moments and ensure that we are committed to being there when they need us. As parents, it is in these time that we can mould and develop their thinking about issues and incidents they witness. The growth of our children is dependent on these special moments that we can share with our children when we engage with them and their choice of activity. It is in these moments when we have them to ourselves that we see their inner self coming out.

Take every opportunity you have this break to enjoy the special times with you children, wherever you may be. Always giving them your undivided attention when you are with them.

ISTE Conference

I have decided to write again, here are some reflections from the first day and a half of the ISTE conference in Philadelphia.

The adventure of my first ISTE conference has been truly amazing. The organisation and set-up of the conference are really something to behold. Everything works, and there is massive support network of volunteeIMG_0790rs to ensure that everything happens as it should.

The sessions have been truly informative with the amazing demonstration of teaching practice and the use of device and technology in the classroom. The integration of technology into teaching and learning is a game changer for education, just as many technologies before IT.

A number of factors that come through in the first couple of days include, the standards of delivery in the classroom need to be set and the support structures need to be in place to support the teachers and children. Professional development for teaching staff forms a critical element in the success of any IT integration strategy. Skilled, tech-savvy teachers are a huge resource. Quality of the use is another issue. Throwing tech into an inferior lesson plan doesn’t transform the lesson; it will still be inferior.

The creation of shared vision is critical to the development of an effective IT integration programme. Communication with all the stakeholders in the programme will lead to success. Be transparent, address the concerns of each particular group. Share what learning will look like within the vision.

TSSA Roadshow

This morning I am presenting at the Thinking Skills South Africa Roadshow to be held at Durban Girls High and tomorrow at Roedean School, Johannesburg.

I have included some of presentation notes and presentation.

  • The following features critical to create powerful learning environments.
    • Learners need an explicit explanation of the cognitive components of the task (a “thinking” vocabulary)
    • learners need to observe an expert performing the task (modelling)
    • learners needs to be given hints and feedback on the own performance (coaching) (formative assessment) learners need to be given direct support in the early stages of the learning task (scaffolding) and to move gradually toward self-regulation and autonomy (learner centred)
    • learners need the opportunity to articulate their cognitive and metacognitive strategies and to make comparisons with other learners (reflection)
    • learners need to explore, identify and define new problems in a domain and be shown strategies acquired in one domain can be used to solve problems in another domain (transfer)
  •   There are several simple ways of designing software to support collaboration.
    • Challenges and problems which have meaning for the learner, and which provide a range of alternative choices that are worth discussing. Such challenges should engage the learners with the content provided rather than the collaboration interface
    • a clear purpose or task which is made evident to the group and which is kept in focus throughout
    • on-screen talk prompts which ask the pay or group to talk together, remind them to reach agreement and ask for opinions and reasons
    • resources for discussion, including information on which decisions can be based and opportunities to review decisions in the light of new information
    • no features which encourage individuals to take turns, beat the clock or establish a competitive way of working
    • clicking, multiple-choice answers or  audio input to minimise typing.
  •  Principles underlying the multimedia learning design:
    • multimedia principle: students learn better from words and pictures than from words alone
    • spatial contiguity principle: students learn better when corresponding words and  pictures are presented near, rather than far from each other on the page or screen
    • Temporal  contiguity principle: students learn better when corresponding words and  pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively
    • coherence principle students learn better when extraneous words pictures and sounds are excluded
    • modality principle: students learn better from animation and narration than from animation and on screen text
    • redundancy principle: students learn better from animation and narration than from animation narration and on-screen text
    • individual differences principle: design effects stronger for low knowledge learners than for high knowledge learners and high spatial learners than for low special learners
  •  interactivity in the use of multimedia learning adds benefits to the learning process, including:
    • dialoguing (Learner receives questions and answers or feedback)
    •  control (the learner controls the pace of learning)
    • manipulating (control over aspects of the presentation)
    • searching (entering queries and selecting options)
    • navigation (selecting information sources)

TSSA Presentation

Thinking Skills

The current focus on many educational reform initiatives includes that of thinking skills, often highlighted as critical and creative thinking. In a modern society mastery of the basics illiteracy and numeracy is no longer sufficient. A much broader range of skills is required of young people, if they are to meet the demands modern society places on them, especially with regards to the labour market. The teaching of thinking is another way of helping students improve their learning. It gives a framework for the mental “scaffolding” that pupils need to improve and enables them to operate as independent thinkers. The need to raise achievement for all pupils to think, reason and solve problems is a critical function of modern educational practice. Pupils learn more effectively when they have an awareness of their own thinking processes. This awareness of our thinking and learning normally takes the form of an internal conversation. Although it is easy to assume that individuals develop these on their own, evidence suggests that these strategies and procedures have to be taught explicitly for the best results. In the classroom students play an active role in learning and teachers guide the learning process with the application of thinking strategies. They assist students think critically and learn by doing and act as a resource while the students discover and master new concepts.