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Technologies for Learning Strategy

If you’re on twitter, you might have noticed the hastag #ediff appearing today. It was one of those sneaky little hastags which appeared unplanned this morning to coordinate the discussions surrounding a Scottish Government sponsored event at the International Futures Forum in Aberdour.

A group of Scottish education tech-types were gathered together to attend a Technologies for Learning Workshop. This workshop formed part of the initial exploration work contributing to the potential development of a Scottish Government Technologies for Learning Strategy.

Obviously, we spent a lot of today talking about Glow and all its various success and failures. For many of us, this was relatively old ground. What was more interesting was taking the opportunity to think about the bigger picture. A couple of key questions which I took from today were…

  • What do we want/need from technology to support learning?
  • What is the role of the state in technology & learning?

For the first question, I feel that we need a range of tools which reflect those tools which are available outside education. For example, we need ways to create, share and collaborate and crucially, these tools need to be easy and desirable to use. So, why don’t we just use what’s already available outside of education? I think there is an argument for having some sort of element of security which allows a degree of separation. I think we do need some private spaces which pupils and teachers can work within, and share within securely – but with the easy option of publishing online also.

And what’s the role of the state in this? I think Government can set expectations and, as much as possible, remove barriers:

  • Scottish Government could make it very clear that using technology to support & enhance learning across the curriculum is not just desirable, but essential.
  • They could then set about ensuring that barriers to access are reduced. This could take the form of encouraging innovative approaches to lack of hardware (i.e. by encouraging schools to install free wifi and allow pupils to bring in their own devices or supporting the procurement of netbooks etc.), and also ensuring an equity of access to high quality & easy to use webtools.

So, where does Glow fit into all of this? I find elements of Glow when reading back through this post actually. It aims to provide that secure online space for collaboration and sharing whilst ensuring an equity of access to a network. However, in its current form Glow is not easy to use, does not supply the high quality tools which are available online today and is probably a little too heavily weighted towards privacy and security.

Glow, or something like it, clearly has a role to play in driving the use of technology in learning in Scotland. The question is, can it continue to adapt successfully to meet the needs of our learners in the future as it currently is doing? Or do we need to relook at Glow’s antiquated and hierarchical core structure and start again?

One thing’s for sure for me. The outcomes from today’s discussion, and those at the Scottish Government Summer School on School Leadership have demonstrated that there is a real appetite for change to develop a 21st Century system for learning in Scotland…can we harness this appetite and make it happen?

With the impending financial situation, can we afford not to?

EDIT

Check out these links for more of the outcomes from the workshop: