From education to employment

Better learning through technology – sharing perspectives across education sectors

Maren Deepwell is chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology

The power of technology to support and extend good learning in the schools sector is explored in a new report based on a conversation initiated by Michael Gove.

Sharing such perspectives across sectors on technology and learning has gained momentum of late in the context of government policy and educational practice. What lessons can be learnt from a conversation about ICT in schools by those working in FE, skills, adult learning and HE? The new report published jointly by ALT and Naace provides insight.

In February ALT and Naace called for participation in the conversation about ICT in the curriculum at www.schoolstech.org.uk following pronouncements from the Education Secretary Michael Gove at the annual BETT conference on the need to rethink the role of ICT in the school curriculum. The conversation received over 150 contributions to discussions on issues such as:

  • Coping with the pace of technological change;

 

  • New models of teaching and education supported by technology;

 

  • How technology changing is young people’s expectations of teaching and education;

 

  • What ICT skills pupils need in order to prepare themselves for further learning and for the workplace?

Most contributions were from people active in learning technology, but the discussion was open to parents, teachers, researchers and others. Better Learning through Technology – a report from the SchoolsTech Conversation has now been published and brings out many important points that are relevant beyond the schools context, for example:

  • Understanding technology as an accelerator not a driver of educational change;

 

  • Ideas about how teachers can be supported in their approach to using technology when facilitating learning and the challenges they face from rapid change and technological developments;

 

  • Considering what role learner expectations, skills and engagement play in technology-enhanced learning and how this impacts on independent learning;

 

  • Emphasising the importance of life-long learning and transferable skills, particularly digital skills and critical/reflective approaches to data.

The report also reflects on topics such as ‘Bring your Own Device’, Technology-supported learning methods, as well as on more general technological trends which are significant for teaching and learning practices, including cloud computing, social media and the Open Access movement.

The need to equip learners across all sectors to negotiate their way through an increasingly data-rich environment has been brought into sharper relief with the recent government announcement that publicly funded research – and the data upon which it is based – will be openly accessible. The announcement came in response to recommendations from the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, chaired by Dame Janet Finch.

The Finch Report recommended a balanced programme of action to enable more people to read and use the publications arising from research, and to accelerate the progress towards a fully Open Access environment.

Similarly, in our own learning and that of our colleagues we will likely encounter challenges as more barriers are removed, more data and a wider range of learning resource become available and we operate in an increasingly global context. This report provides a good starting point for delivering better learning through technology.

Better Learning through Technology – a report from the SchoolsTech Conversation run by Naace and ALT between January and March 2012 is now available online http://repository.alt.ac.uk/2219.

Maren Deepwell is chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), an independent membership charity whose mission is to ensure that use of learning technology is effective and efficient, informed by research and practice, and grounded in an understanding of the underlying technologies and their capabilities, and the situations into which they are placed

 

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