Rachel Iles is a Learning Technology Manager at The British School in the Netherlands.An experienced...
Learning technology: Developing professionals of the future11 April 2017, by Rachel Iles
The British School in the Netherlands (BSN) places learning technology at the heart of its provision.
Rachel Iles, Learning Technology Manager (LTM) at The BSN’s Junior School Leidschenveen, shares why this is important for all schools to adopt in preparing professionals of the future.
Technology use in the education of 3 to 18 year olds is a vibrant and continually evolving story. All the LTM’s across the four campuses promote how technology, when used effectively, offers an exciting wealth of possibilities to support, enhance, and expand meaningful learning opportunities.
That said, it is important to note that technology alone, or access to it, does not automatically engender great learning. So how do we do it and what does it look like?
Students engage best when technology activities are linked to topics and open-ended, providing an extra dimension in bringing learning alive. Let’s start with story building as an example.
In Year 2, students (5 to 6 year olds) explore "Favourite & Traditional Tales", e.g. Robin Hood. As part of the English curriculum, they learn about story settings, structure, vocabulary and they engage in role-play to understand how characters and story elements connect.
Once familiar with writing stories, they then create their own alternative digital versions. Via iPads and PCs, they learn how to combine digital tools such as pen, text, image, video and sound recording. Combining original ideas and media brings a magical dimension.
The use of a mobile device allows them to record their own voice or sound effects, to insert film clips of their teams acting out the plot, to design artwork linked to the story and ultimately, to become a published author!
Alongside this, being able to export files in a variety of formats provides the means to share their work with a wider audience.
Technology topics for 7 to 11 year olds increase in complexity using real-life experiences to promote understanding.
The BSN’s India project, a topic that is covered as part of the Geography curriculum, enables students to become virtual travel agents; Google mapping travel routes and distances, budgeting transport via key websites, culminating in students capturing their learning to teach their peers.
The tricky translation of Shakespeare in English classes is assisted by collaborating in teams to design backdrops, clay characters and staging to animate scenes from famous plays.
Other projects include movie trailers to explain science topics, virtual game design, and being transported into character in a historical setting through the use of a green-screen.
There is no boundary to the creative means by which students can exceed expectations and author ideas to show us what they think and feel.
In our international setting, technology supports students’ personal learning preferences by allowing them to select their own choice of tools to create a range of media, record different language versions, or express ideas visually.
Continually evolving technology
Children’s experience of technology outside of school is continually changing; within school, for a curriculum to remain exciting and challenging it needs regular refreshing.
The future is bright
Today’s learners will become the professionals of the future, and in recent years we have begun to focus on the projected skills required for the 2020 to 2030 workplace.
In January 2016, The World Forum published the Top 10 Skills for 2020 which featured problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity in the top three, swiftly followed by emotional intelligence, negotiation and cognitive flexibility.
In an increasingly connected world, awareness of digital intelligence, i.e. the choices we make when engaging with technology, is of growing importance (see DQ - Developing Next Generation Digital Skill Sets).
As educators, we have a crucial role to play in modelling behaviours and attitudes that underpin positive behaviours alongside helping young people develop as people.
By learning to make good choices, build social skills and develop personal and social capital, they will be well equipped to play key roles in designing the digital landscape of the future.
The British School in the Netherlands is located in The Hague and is convenient to travel to whether you’re in Amsterdam, Rotterdam or just around the corner. We’re closer than you think.