Education has finally taken the long overdue leap into the digital sector and is quickly changing.
Digital technology is impacting:
- What students are learning
- How they are learning
- Where they are learning
- When they are learning
- Why they are learning
- Who is teaching them
In today’s fast-paced, tech driven society, students are looking at getting their information on their tech devices as quickly and conveniently as possible, and schools have now adopted the means of supplying students with the access and tools to get their study material/projects and homework anywhere at any time.
However, the many benefits of learning with digital technologies are accompanied by some challenges and potential risks for students and schools:
- Cyber Safety: Cyberbullying, smear campaigns and accessing inappropriate content.
- Cyber Crime: Online fraud, sexual offending or accessing objectionable content.
- Cyber Security: Hacking into someone’s social media account or loading malware onto a laptop.
Ways of overcoming these digital challenges:
- Supplying students with the knowledge and skills on how to use tech devices and search engines safely and responsibly.
- Implementing firewall and security software to protect devices and users.
- Creating a tech faculty and board consisting of students and teachers to ensure that any issues and problems are handled and dealt with correctly.
- Implementing and adopting a healthy a proactive social culture around technology use between students and faculty.
- Getting the entire community involved with preventing and responding to incidents.
The goal is to ensure the online safety of all students.
Below are 10 key considerations when bringing technology into your school:
- Full Support from the Top
A technology program is only going to succeed when school boards, school superintendents, and school principals commit to it in word and deed financially, logistically and morally by supplying and maintaining an appropriate environment that will result in sound educational outcomes.
- All Aboard
Everyone needs to buy into the change that technology brings, technology should never be forced on teachers. Teachers must be given the opportunity to prepare for the kind of change that computer-based technology brings. The best leadership enables teachers to become the best that they can be through consultation, collaboration, communication, support, respect, and encouragement.
- Invest and Train
Identify a teacher/s in your school who can be given the opportunity to gain sufficient high-level expertise to qualify them to act as role models, advisors, and trouble shooters in matters having to do with computer-based educational technology. These teachers will work with other teachers, as individuals or in groups, introducing them to new systems, arranging product demonstrations, and helping them with any technical problems that might arise.
- Change is Fast
School districts must provide teachers with every opportunity to stay abreast of advances in technology and, more importantly, must give the teachers time to integrate teaching and learning technologies into the curriculum.
- Keep Learning
Teachers are the leaders in the classroom. Therefore, they need to stay on top of latest trends and advances in technology to better assist them in integrating technology into their study material and classroom presentations.
- Tech Support
Technical support should be on site and on demand. This is not always possible when it is outsourced, so the best possible option would be to have someone in-house who can handle all IT related issue’s quick and hassle free.
There's no point in providing training and technical support if the teachers are not ready and willing to apply newly acquired skills on a regular basis in their professional lives. Here it is all about using what you have learned and applying it to the curriculum and study material of the students.
- Get Involved
Parents and students must be actively involved in all aspect of the education process at school and at home. Parents should feel that their child's classroom is their classroom, too. Parents should at least be provided with feedback on the existence and effectiveness of a technology program in the child's classroom. Schools, administration and faculty must appreciate the value of getting parents directly or indirectly involved.
- Ongoing Investment
When times are tough the first area considered to trim down on is the technology budget. Commitment to funding tech teaching and learning is a necessity and not an option, so it needs to be a long term carefully planned strategy that results in money well spent.
- Never Switch Education Off
Although parents would like to see their children put down their phones, tablets and laptops when they get home, we should rather focus on what more they should be learning on these devices when they leave the classroom. Children should be encouraged to continue their education at home whenever the opportunity allows.
These ten steps were excerpted from Chapter 14 “Ten Pillars of Successful Technology Implementation of Education” for an Information Age: Teaching in the Computerized Classroom, by Bernard J. Poole with Lorrie Jackson.
To view the entire book click here.
Read more about Print vs. Digital education in schools here.
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