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Digital technology in schools

Digital technology in schools

There have been so many things happening at school recently in the realm of digital technology, it has been hard to keep track of. Here are some highlights:

• Ten teachers from all parts of the school attended the Apple Education Leadership summit in London to find out more about the transformative potential of mobile devices
• The recently formed Mental Health Society delivered an excellent Assembly talk in which issues about ‘screen time’ featured prominently
• The BTEC Business and BTEC Sport and Exercise Science Information Evening was live streamed on our website:
http://www.tauntonschool.co.uk/senior/sixth-form/academic/btec/
• Improvements have begun to our wifi
• Staff training on ‘flipped learning’ has proved popular as the functionality of our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Firefly has been ramped up in its latest version.

As always with technology, there is a healthy tension between the desire to push forward and explore new ways of doing things, and the need to move at a pace we can manage and build things that we can sustain. The world of digital learning is a dazzling place - consider the possibilities offered by the latest virtual/augmented reality devices for example - but the potential for confusion is also significant. When mobile devices first appeared, some schools rushed to roll them out without laying proper foundations of infrastructure, staff training, or device management, and therefore failed to harness their transformative potential. Other schools, fortunately, took a more considered approach, and were more successful in deploying this vastly powerful tool to improve the learning experience of their students.

Naturally, it is this second outcome we desire for our students here at Taunton School and we have agreed to focus on doing just three things well before moving onwards and upwards:

1. Full population of our VLE Firefly from September 2018
2. Greater use of interactive learning platforms
3. Better guidance for students on online reading, research and referencing.

Taken together, these three things mark a big step forward in our use of the resources we already have. The next stage is to determine what further resources we need to provide students with a learning experience which will stand them in good stead for their higher education and career.

Talking of careers, I was reminded just this week that if, just ten years ago, a school careers advisor had told a student "Your future is in app development", the student would have replied "What's an app?" because the Apple App Store is not even nine years old!

Finally, I know parents are always keen to know more about technology and how they can support their children at home. Here is a link to a recent BBC article on the subject which very much chimes with how we approach the issue here at TS: engaging our young people in open dialogue about it rather than simply clamping down with no explanation.

Damian Henderson
Deputy Head - Academic