Digital society demands for changes in education. Policy makers publish new education blueprints and schools around the world rush to roll out new computing courses.
Consequently more and more schools are thinking about the practicalities of teaching digital skills. Many schools share the same vision on the learning goals for their digital skills program.
Teaching digital skills demands more than the actual digital skills course syllabus. Teaching digital skills demands that both the physical as well as the cultural environment supports teaching digital skills.
Regardless of the chosen syllabus there are some common denominators to successful digital skills program implementations. This article discusses few key principles every school should consider when planning to teach digital skills – and even if already doing so.
Renewing teaching methods cannot be done by teachers only
Project-based learning approach is best suited for technology projects to allow practising the 4C. Many schools move away from the traditional teacher-centred teaching methods. The new teaching culture embraces students working in groups, having responsibility, and moving the teacher from the traditional ‘know-it-all’ role to a coaching role.
Most often teachers would benefit from pedagogical training and support to adapt a new teaching style. They need to adopt it, use it, get support for it – such big changes seldom take place overnight.
How supportive is the school environment and the parents for such a change in the teacher’s role? It’s difficult enough as it is – the teachers need all the support they can get from the environment.
How well and fast teachers can adopt this change depends on many factors such as
their personal characteristics, skills, training but the acceptance of the change and support by external players like educational leaders and parents is equally important.
Suitable hardware and software – work with what you got
Depending on the desired learning goals, digital skills building will require hardware and software. Exploring and creating projects can be boosted by providing a variety of equipment, materials and different environments.
But: you can start with less. You can start with what you’ve got or what you can afford. Tablet devices which groups of 2-3 students share, efficient usage of simulators in place of physical robot kits, printed materials in case there’s no network connectivity.
In fact in many schools the situation is the other way around: someone purchased (a very expensive) set of Lego Education EV3s some years ago but they are not used because that someone left and no-one knows how to get started!
Plan your digital skills program goals first and then figure out what kind of hardware and software you need. Not the other way around.
Devil is in the (practical) details
Implementation of cross-curricular design projects that span subject areas, group boundaries, and reach out to the society outside of school may require practical changes. You must consider how well does the schools’ current environment and ways of working support such approach?
Consider at least:
Class scheduling. Project-based working methods would benefit from lessons longer than 45 minutes. Is it possible to organize theme days or even weeks? What kind of process changes and information sharing is needed to make that happen?
Classroom premises. Project-based working methods will see the students occupy with different types of work: designing, building the project and presenting it. How well does your physical school environment support it?
Teacher collaboration. To get comfortable with project-based learning approach, co-teaching and combining teacher experiences is usually a positive thing. What are the practical ways your school’s teachers can work together? Do their class schedules allow planning and executing such co-operation?
We know what it takes
Fundamentally, to instil a solid digital skills program in a school will always start with understanding the current state of pedagogy, attitudes, teachers’ skills and tools. No matter which digital skills program the school wants to offer, the implementation of it will always need to be tailored to the school’s situation.
Can we help your school?
We provide tools and training for a digital skills program
that will fit your objectives and current status.