This has been a very busy week in the world of educational technology!
Apple’s Educational Leadership Summit brought leaders in education from around the world to north London. I was fortunate enough to discuss iPad/technology deployment with staff and speakers from Apple Education, as well as leaders who are leveraging the use of technology in schools from Cornwall to South Africa. My networking with these individuals was fuelled by one thing; to figure out the difference between highly successful organisations currently using technology and my own. The below points are highlights of my discussions with these leaders:
- The vision and purpose for a school’s use of technology must be created by the school. It must be definitive, well understood by all parties and it must be meaningful.
- The most successful schools that invest in technology are those who have a member of staff dedicated to the deployment of the devices within the curriculum, this person shouldn’t be class-based.
- The first few years of a deployment are tricky for everyone.
This was reassuring to see that others in schools from around the world were currently experiencing or at least had experienced the same difficulties that I am.
The next highlight of the summit was the workshops that showcased how technology is being used by current practitioners. Below are brief summaries and the knowledge I took away from the sessions.
Session 1- A woodland walk
This session demonstrated how to create an iTunesU course around a given topic in the curriculum and how to set activities in the course for pupils. This opened my eyes to the idea that even in a primary school, an entire term topic for history or geography could be based on the children progressing through a managed iTunesU course and hand in ‘assignments’ at the end of every lesson.
This would require someone within the school to create content around each of the topics, but could none-the-less be a valuable learning opportunity to engage more pupils. Our future scientists will be using technology every single day, will they need an education that revolves around traditional experiment write ups?
Session 2- Think like a coder
While this session wasn’t cross curricular, it was very useful in pointing out the link between mathematical thinking and the logic behind building code. We used the EV3 Brick from Lego Education to build and program a robot to take a penguin from one area to another. Once the coding was built and we got the hang of how the motors work, we were allowed to experiment with the sensors. Using even more complex coding, we were able to use colour sensors to allow the robot to move along a coloured line to complete the same task in a more efficient manner. Which has given me the idea to implement robotics in year six!
The session leader, the director for technology at Parklands College in South Africa (@parklandsTweet), pointed out that this kind of logical thinking, decomposition (breaking a task into smaller, more manageable parts) is a not only a very important life skill, but it is also present in the computing and mathematics curriculum.
Session 3- A Peak inside Apple
This session was lead by an executive at Apple from California. While I struggled in the beginning to understand the educational relevance of learning about Apple’s mentality when it creates products, one of his main points really stuck with me.
Apple wants the end user to feel good about themselves when they use Apple technology.
Which links back to the idea of a digital natives/ immigrants and many of the members of staff in a school that would be classified as digital immigrants. This got me thinking, teachers using technology at my school will undoubtedly experience some sort of feelings about themselves and their pedagogy while using technology. Those who are successful in implementing the technology will feel good about themselves and perhaps feel successful. Those who struggle to use technology will see technology that I place in the classroom as a reflection of negative feelings about themselves; if even only temporary, I don’t want that.
Overall, the Apple Leadership Summit was an unimaginably useful experience to develop the use of technology both in my classroom and across my school.
Thank you Apple,