Friday, 6 September 2013

Thinking iPads - what guides your decision making?

Many schools are now considering the introduction of iPads to assist and promote student learning. As schools plan to select, introduce and implement the use of iPads they need to consider a multitude of elements directed by the overriding question - ‘What difference is this going to make to student learning and achievement.’ This process needs to be carefully considered and strategically planned. Key questions arise:

  • What resources are available to assist schools in the strategic planning process?
  • What needs to be considered?
  • What guides this process?

    The Educational Positioning System (EPS) developed by CORE Education in conjunction with Dr Julia Atkin provides a comprehensive process for future focussed school review. The EPS provides a framework to the  guide the decision making and strategic planning process required for the selection, introduction and  implementation of new technology.

    Philosophical Framework

    This dimension looks to explore the fundamental essence of learning within the school.
    As you look to select and introduce new technologies use these questions to guide the  process.
    • What is your ‘educative purpose?’Is this clearly understood and shared by all? What are the key values, beliefs and principles that guide learning in your school?
    • Have these been explored, discussed, debated and developed to ensure that these are indeed meeting the needs of learners?
    • Have you identified what you consider constitutes powerful learning? Is there shared understanding and commitment to the development of a culture that promotes powerful learning?
    • Do these shared values and beliefs guide decision-making?

    • Have your clearly identified your overriding educative purpose and are you using this to guide the selection process?
    • Do you know what type of technology you want and why? Which type of technology will best support and promote your school beliefs about learning?
    • Are new technologies explored in terms of their potential to transform learning? Have you had the opportunity to explore the potential of these technologies to see which one best aligns with your schools philosophical framework for learning? Which technologies will best meet the needs of your students / teachers?
    • Which technology will best promote ‘powerful learning’ empowering students to be confident connected learners?
    • How will this technology support your school’s metacognitive approach for learning?
    • Does your philosophical framework refer to the potential and use of ICTs? Is this a shared understanding and belief across the school. If not, do you need to provide opportunities to update this?

    Community and Culture

    This dimension looks at the school as a learning organisation.
    As you look to select and introduce new technologies use these questions to guide the  process.
    • Does the school culture reflect the school’s philosophical beliefs about learning?
    • Is the school informed and up to date with latest research and initiatives. It is ‘open’ to developing new opportunities and initiatives that would enhance learning opportunities for students? Does it consider new possibilities? How does it reflect, review select and identify areas for change?
    • Are the dispositions required for learning in the 21st century modelled and fostered? For example are collaboration, open-mindedness, informed risk taking, critical reflection evident?

    • Will this technology enhance the learning culture at your school?
    • Does this technology align with the vision and values of your school. For example if your school vision is to create confident, connected, communicators who are life long learners  - how will this technology enact this? Are all members of the community aware of the vision? Do they have ownership of and commitment to this vision?
    • Does this technology foster opportunities for collaboration, informed risk taking and critical reflection?
    • Are you prepared to take risks, be open-minded and  receptive to the change that may be required? What is required to ensure that you teachers are empowered to be confident users of ICTs? What needs to be considered, planned for,  to ensure that teachers are encouraged but not overwhelmed with the new technology?
    • Will this technology strengthen your learning culture? How can it be used to strengthen home school partnerships?

    Strategies and Structures

    This dimension looks at how the school fosters and develops the learning culture and enacts it’s philosophical framework.
    As you look to select and introduce new technologies use these questions to guide the  process.
    • Do the strategies for school curriculum design, assessment, reporting, teaching and learning align with the school values and beliefs about learning?
    • Are ICTs being used to translate your school philosophy into practice?
    • Are ICTs used discerningly and integrated seamlessly into learning programmes?
    • Is the organisational, technical and physical infrastructure developed to support and promote learning in the 21st century?
    • Are learning, thinking and teaching strategies current? What systems and processes are in placed to review what is working well and what requires further development?
    • Is curriculum design personalised to meet the needs of learners?
    • How will this particular technology enhance teaching and learning in your school?
    • Can this technology be integrated seamlessly and used discerningly in learning programmes?
      • what is required for teachers? How can your professional learning programme strengthen teacher capability?
      • what is required for students?
    • Have you fully explored the capability of this technology - do you know what could be possible? it’s limitations?
    • Will the school’s current infrastructure sustain the introduction of this new technology?
    • Is this technology fit for purpose?
      • durable?
      • child friendly
    • How can you ensure maximum use of this technology
      • allocation?
      • access for all students?
      • storage?
      • charging?
      • security?
      • maintenance?
      • monitoring?

    Selecting and purchasing new technology can be a difficult process for schools. Many school leaders feel  pressured into purchasing technology by suppliers or groups within their schools. It is important to keep the focus on learning, not the device, by clearly identifying what you want the device to do. 

    The framework of the EPS provides a valuable reference and guide for this decision making - ensuring that the technology selected will best meet the needs of the students by keeping the focus on the learner and the learning.

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