The AI revolution is not coming; it is already here, but what place does it have in education?

The thought of Artificial Intelligence, for most people, immediately brings with it the image of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator or C3P0 from Star Wars. However, the reality of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is very different; comparing AI to human intelligence is the first mistake people tend to make.

Research into AI began over 60 years ago and until fairly recently, the most common forms of AI consisted of nothing more than extremely quick information processing systems that completed specific functions reliably and accurately. A well known example is ‘Deep Blue’, the chess computer that beat the reigning world chess champion, Gary Kasparov, in 1997 and subsequently became the first computer system to do so.

The advantages that Deep Blue had over Kasparov did not lie in its ability to learn, moreover they lay in memory and computation. However, ‘Machine Learning‘ is a subset of AI that has flourished since the 1990s due to the explosion of available data, and is the AI that is most commonly found today. Machine Learning involves the creation of artificial ‘neural networks’ which simulate the way the human brain learns. Machine-learning applications build models based on data-sets that engineers use to train the system, and with each new data set, it updates its model and the way it interprets the world. A seminal moment came in 2016; Google’s ‘AlphaGo’ demonstrated a significant machine-learning advance, beating the reigning human champion of ‘Go’, a game more complex than chess or checkers. To win, AlphaGo used deep learning to evaluate the strength of different board positions having been previously trained by matching the moves of expert players from recorded historical games. AlphaGo then used this knowledge to continually play against itself, learning to improve after every single move it made.

However, despite the incredible human-beating performance of both ‘Deep Blue’ and ‘AlphaGo’, ask either of them to complete a much more routine task, like mowing the lawn, they would be of no use whatsoever. AI, therefore should normally be regarded as ‘domain-specific’. Indeed, when you consider the amount of routine tasks an average human completes every day, (physically, emotionally, academically, subconsciously etc.) you realise that although AI may well be able to match (or even beat) humans at the specific task for which they have been trained, otherwise they are simply not as intelligent as humans and shouldn’t be considered as such. In fairness, domain-specific AI developers do not claim to have matched holistic human intelligence. Such a feat is known as ‘The Singularity’ and is something we are still pretty far from achieving. However, renowned physicist, Professor Max Tegmark, argues that there is no fundamental reason why AI will not continue to progress until this is the case.

Right now though, in the early 21st Century, AI is rapidly becoming part of our everyday lives. All new Apple computers, phones and tablets come with the virtual assistant, Siri, whilst smart-speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa are becoming evermore popular. Each piece of software adapts to users individual language usages, searches and preferences. Sound waves are converted into text which allows the AI to gather information from a variety of sources from which the AI is able to answer the questions, or complete the task set, using the data as required. There are also plenty of other areas in which AI has permeated everyday life:

  • Finance: banks routinely use machine learning for fraud detection whilst most stock market trading decisions are made by computers.
  • Manufacturing: AI controls robots that enhance proficiency and precision in the construction of cars, airplanes etc. it has also decreased the number of industrial accidents
  • Transportation: cars such as the Audi A8 already have automated AI functionality whilst some airlines use AI to identify potential flight glitches. The potential for AI to save lives on roads, in the air and on water is huge.
  • Energy: AI helps to balance production and consumption across the world’s electrical grids whilst helping to keep power stations operating efficiently and safely.
  • Healthcare: machine learning is helping to reveal relationships between genes, diseases and treatment responses. Moreover, in 2016 a Stanford study showed that AI could diagnose lung cancer better than human pathologists.
  • Communication: most modern smart phones come with in-built AI which can also connect to the ‘internet of things’; providing improved efficiency, accuracy, convenience when controlling items such as lamps, thermostats, freezers etc.
  • Marketing: companies such as the disgraced Cambridge Analytica have made the headlines by using machine learning to predict who will respond favourably to targeted adverts.
  • Retail: Amazon, Ocado and L’Oreal  all use AI to navigate their warehouses and to lift and stack products, fulfil customer orders and pack materials whilst preventing accidents respectively.

AI In Education

However, despite these in-roads, AI has yet to have a major impact on mainstream education. Most schools are still getting to grips with the remarkable opportunities afforded by WiFi, digital learning and mobile technology. Nevertheless, there are some examples of how AI is having an impact on learning and indeed, business functionality in education. For example, UK based educational AI company, Century Tech, has developed a learning platform alongside neuroscientists that tracks student interactions, including every mouse and keyboard movement. Century Tech’s AI monitors patterns and correlations in student, year group and school data and provides a personalised learning journey for each student, whilst giving teachers a real-time snapshot of the status of all children in their classes. At RGS Worcester we are planning to visit to a number of UK schools, such as Bolton School, that are already utilising the Century Tech AI.

With this machine learning opportunity already available, it is only a matter of time before other possibilities afforded by AI are realised; here are a few examples ascertained from my research:

  • Disruption of the ‘Industrial’ model of education and personalised learning
    • It is often argued that today’s classrooms have barely changed since education became available to the masses during the Industrial Revolution. Artificial Intelligence has the potential to completely change this model. Rather than having 1/2 teacher(s) per 30 children, each child could have a personalised assistant with an individually tailored learning programme. Taking the next step from the existing Century Tech software, future AI could actually co-deliver lessons to pupils at an optimal pace, understanding exactly what motivates, stimulates and select activities that best challenges them. Furthermore, AI could monitor tiredness, learning difficulties and psychological well-being, continually accumulating more information to optimise the learning programme alongside their human teacher.
  • Reduce Teacher Workload
    • The human aspect of teaching, in my opinion, should never be replaced. However, AI can remove many of the routine burdens that prevent teachers from being able to devote their energy to their students and indeed, teaching itself. AI could select the appropriate teaching materials for each lesson and note when pupils are absent or distracted. Furthermore, it could continuously measure and assess student progress/work so teachers no longer have to. The AI could then provide detailed assessments to teachers and even send reminders to pupils to finish uncompleted work whilst offering detailed formative advice. In turn, this could help improve teacher retention and recruitment.
  • Breadth of Intelligence Developed
    • AI can open up a much broader education for all. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, not all schools are able to provide the broadest possible enrichment. Emotional development, a wide-selection of languages, drama, teamwork, travel, sporting achievement, exposure to the arts, moral leadership etc. are sometimes sacrificed in order to focus on grades and league-tables. AI, however, could allow for more effective development of every child’s cognitive capabilities and all possible elements of human intelligence.
  • Stimulus for Students
    • Computer games grab the attention of young people and the next step from creating AI that can play games (such as Deepblue and Alpha GO) is for AI to actually create immersive and intelligent games that provide tailored game-play experiences that continuously adapt to suit learners, never growing out-of-date in the process.
  • Support for Disadvantaged Learners/SEN
    • Students with physical disabilities that mean they can’t use input devices like mice or keyboards could use natural language processing that enables development of voice-activated interfaces. Indeed, students who find it difficult to access school could benefit from a personalised AI teaching assistant at their home.
    • Efficiency, accuracy and quality of SEN diagnosis (e.g. ADHD) can be improved by AI. It can also educate instructors about the most effective methods with which to teach the individuals
    • Work has already begun to use AI to help people who have Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC). Using data, AI systems have been able to help individual learners address special needs requirements. Another project, developed at UCL called ECHOES, resulted in the construction of a learning environment that built on existing technologies, such as interactive whiteboards, gesture and gaze tracking interfaces to create an interactive multimodal environment that could adapt to specific requirements of individual children with ASC.
  • Social Mobility
    • AI could offer the highest quality education for every student and help to counter-balance the stagnant social mobility opportunities afforded in society today. The rapidly falling price of technology means that as AI evolves, it could become widely available for a low cost and offer the same opportunities to all pupils. Class size, teacher quality, motivation/behaviour of peers, pace of progress and capital spending per-student could all become far-less of a factor in the quality of education available to students, regardless of socio-economic status.

Potential Pitfalls

As with any new technology, there are some dangers regarding the proliferation of AI, and we should all be mindful of them to ensure we tackle them proactively rather than wait until it’s too late. Anyone who has seen ‘The Great Hack‘ on Netflix will have seen how AI was used to target floating voters in The US Presidential elections and the Brexit vote in the UK. Both the Trump and Pro-Brexit parties used Cambridge Analytica to harvest voter-data from Facebook which enabled them to produce and share specifically targeted videos, memes and links that helped to sway voter intention in the desired direction.

  • Ethical Issues and Privacy
    • To be as effective as possible, AI needs to know as much as is possible about our bodies and minds. In the wrong hands, this data could be used to manipulate and endanger. Procedures must be in place to regulate and store the data responsibly and securely.
  • Infantilisation of humanity
    • If you take the growth of SatNav as an example of how AI now guides us around our physical environment, it’s entirely plausible that other forms of AI could replace different aspects of our thinking. As Niall Ferguson wrote in the Sunday Times “…the sum of human understanding may end up being reduced by AI”.
  • Loss of Jobs
    • More efficient tools and machines have been replacing jobs for centuries, and some studies suggest that over 25% of current jobs are susceptible to automation. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however rather than replacing the drudgery of work – we must be mindful not to take away the satisfying, challenging, social, worthwhile and ultimately ‘human’ aspects of the workplace.
  • Automation/Deprofessionalisation of teaching
    • Professor Anthony Seldon claims that robots will replace teachers by 2027. Although this seems unlikely to me, there is the very real possibility that as AI becomes more adept at teaching students, teacher expertise in subject areas will be less comprehensive than the machines. Furthermore, although AI could help allieviate the teacher recruitment crisis, we must be careful not to see AI as a replacement for teachers. Rather, we should consider how we change teacher-training and the role of the teacher to best utilise the opportunities offered by AI.
  • Social Immobility
    • Currently, AI costs are significant, therefore we need to ensure that the potential advantages of AI are not monopolised by wealthy countries/families/schools. Indeed, there is a possibility that AI may become cheaper than actual teachers/TA’s and in less-advantaged parts of the world in the future, AI may be seen as a low-cost replacement. In this rather bleak, dystopian possibility, suggested by Professor Rose Luckin, the most privileged in society may receive holistic, human-led education where AI acts as an intelligent assistant whilst poorer students only have AI alongside childminders to keep them on task.

Conclusions

The AI revolution is not coming; it is already here. Furthermore, my research concludes there is little doubt about the incredible potential of Artificial Intelligence in Education. AI can enrich the teaching profession, reduce workload, personalise learning and enhance the experiences of children. One day in the not too distant future, it could even help to offer a world-class education for every child, no matter what their background or socio-economic circumstance.   Nevertheless, it is an area within education in which we need to tread extremely carefully. The possible pitfalls that I have outlined must be managed proactively as we begin considering how best to integrate AI into our educational systems.

The speed at which AI is permeating into almost every aspect of our lives suggests that the education sector and the educators within it must prepare themselves and indeed, their students, for a new era in education where teaching and curriculum design will become entirely different from the so-called ‘Industrial Model’ that we have experienced since the 19th Century.

Intelligence itself is no longer a uniquely human concept, although the rise of AI has also demonstrated just how multifaceted human intelligence actually is. Yes, computers can out-perform us at certain tasks, but human intelligence is far more complex than that. Professor Luckin even suggests that the fact we call AI ‘Intelligent’ diminishes our own intellectual attributes; “there are many technologies that can deceive their users into believing they are human. However, I would suggest that this is more a reflection of our propensity to undervalue what it means to be human than a real reflection of the intelligence of the technologies”.

Perhaps the dawn of AI in education should also raise questions over the type of intelligence that our current education system encourages and values; facts that help you pass exams are undoubtedly important, yet they they are only a small aspect of what human intelligence is capable of. The fact that AI can now pass some of the exams we set for our pupils suggests that their scope is far too narrow. They do not take into account social intelligence, metacognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence and our perceived self-efficacy; all of which AI is unable to replicate.

The possibilities afforded by AI in education are remarkable, but we must ensure that where AI improves education, it does so in a way that compliments, rather than replaces, the most important aspect of teaching and learning; humanity itself.

Further Reading:

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The Apple Distinguished Schools Innovation Summit – Berlin 2019.

My five years working at King’s Rochester came to an end in April this year when I undertook my current role as Director of Innovation at RGS Worcester – an Apple Distinguished School (ADS). Interestingly, just before I left King’s, after several years of preparation, we had just been told that we met the requirements to become an ADS School in 2020.

Apple Distinguished Schools are recognised by Apple as ‘centres of leadership and educational excellence ​that demonstrate Apple’s vision for learning with technology‘. To qualify, schools must have an established one-to-one programme; be able to demonstrate innovative use of the Apple platform; ensure their staff are proficient with iPad and/or Mac and be able to provide documented results. Those schools that meet the requirements and achieve ADS status are then invited to attend the annual Apple Distinguished Schools Innovation Summit, somewhere on The Globe – and for this reason, I recently found myself in Berlin with other members of the ADS community.


My trip began with a quick visit to the Berlin Metropolitan School, where @JenOFee is Head of the Primary Section. It was great to see the pupils meaningfully use a range of technologies as they prepared for their PYP (Primary Years Programme) exhibition; taking place that very evening. The PYP is a transdisciplinary framework that places an emphasis on inquiry-based learning. The exhibition itself happens at the end of year six and provides pupils with the opportunity to share their newly developed knowledge and skills with their peers, teachers, parents and wider school community.

The student work on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning was of particular interest to me and was testament to the fact that if orchestrated properly, inquiry-based practice can have high-impact on student learning.


Next stop was the Innovation Summit itself, taking place next to Potsdamer Platz – itself once at the helm of innovation when the first traffic lights in continental Europe were installed back in 1924.

The Summit started with an overview of the ADS programme, specifically in the EMEIA (Europe, Middle East, India and Africa) whose schools were represented at the Berlin 2019 summit. 86 Schools from 17 countries were represented and it really was brilliant to see so many familiar faces from the ADE Community there as well. Indeed, some of the highlights of the whole summit were hearing from delegates from several different schools and how they had managed to successfully embed technology within their curriculums, change culture, strengthen communities and empower learners, often in very difficult circumstances.

We also took a detailed look at the ‘Elements of Learning‘; a book published by Apple in 2018, in conjunction with SRI International, that aims to help educators to design lessons that incorporate five elements of learning when using Apple Technology. The elements are:

  • Teamwork
  • Communication and Creation
  • Personalisation of Learning
  • Critical Thinking
  • Real-World Engagement

The book contains detailed chapters on each element and features lesson plans that are supported by both guiding and reflective questions. Although, by no means definitive, the book certainly has some interesting and valuable ideas that could easily be customised to fit in with most schools curricula.

Moreover, the session provided an opportunity to reflect and discuss Apple’s ‘Elements of Learning’ in relation to our respective practices.


Day two kicked off with a look at how Apple prioritised meaningful innovation when designing their products. It was also good to hear that their US operations (for example their data centres) are now running on 100% renewable energy, whilst worldwide – that figure stands around 93%.

Further workshops then followed, allowing delegates to investigate various aspects of teaching and learning. One option was a session focusing on the excellent Everyone Can Create curriculum that provides ideas for students to develop and communicate their ideas through drawing, photography, video and music.

I attended a session on Augmented Reality (AR) and how teachers are using it purposefully in the classroom. As much as I love AR, I do find there are a lot of impractical ideas floating about on social media that fail to take into account a time-benefit analysis. However, these sessions offered some really nice, simple workflows. For example, using apps like Insight Heart or Froggipedia, in conjunction with ‘screen record’ for students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of difficult concepts such as coronary circulation.

Next up was an excellent session by fellow ADE’s @DepHead_Jones and @LynseyCarrMPS who discussed how they empowered their respective school communities through active collaboration and problem-solving – working together to build momentum behind the commitment to continuous innovation taking place at their schools. Time was also taken to discuss how this commitment to community engagement could be developed in each of our respective schools. I referenced some of the great work completed by @MattWarne and @efaulkneruk in this regard; earlier this year Matt and Emma released the worlds first online Apple Regional Training (RTC) online courses. Created on Padlet, some courses have all you need to know to use some key apps – for example, Keynote or Swift Playgrounds,whilst others look at areas such as productivity on iPad.


The final school story of the Innovation Summit came from @cat_ht, ADE and Deputy Head of the awesome Holy Trinity Primary School in Hackney, London. Their story involved utilising the space above their school to help enhance their learning environment. As their school was rebuilt, they constructed flats above the new classrooms to help finance the project and indeed, fund their highly successful adoption of iPads.

Part of the Holy Trinity success story involves the continuous professional development they offer their teachers and perhaps my favourite aspect of their strategy was combining snacks and apps! There can be no denying that the prospect of some Pages training seems infinitely more enticing when some pancakes are thrown into the mix! Who knows, staff at RGS Worcester may soon be able to look forward to some tasty trimmings alongside their CPD opportunities…


In conclusion, the Apple Distinguished Schools Innovation Summit was a hugely rewarding, thought-provoking experience that not only served-up some fantastic ideas to bring back to Worcestershire, but also the opportunity to speak, laugh and develop bonds with like-minded educators from across the EMEIA region.

It’s great to know that innovative practice has had such a profound effect on learning all over the planet. However, it is worth remembering that it is not just digital devices that bind innovative schools together. Moreover, it is the sharing of practice, ideas and the drive for meaningful innovation that means RGS Worcester, RGS The Grange, RGS Springfield and RGS Dodderhill are proud to stand amongst the most forward-thinking, innovative schools in the world.

 

Social Media: What Is The Significance of Parental Engagement?

Today in the UK there is a plethora of different social media available. 72% of 12-15 year olds and 91% of 16-24 year olds use the internet for social networking (RSPH 2017). Certainly, the ability to communicate in a variety of manners, instantaneously across the globe, has introduced a myriad of advantages to almost every sector, including education. However, it has also brought with it serious challenges such as computer security, viruses, data hacking, fake news and of course, online bullying and harassment.

Click on the image to download this free iBook

Recent news headlines have called for the banning of mobile phones in schools; discussed controversy surrounding social media platform’s handling of content promoting self-harm and suicide and highlighted potential damage social media can do to mental health.

It is certainly true that many children connect to social media just when their social and emotional development levels leave them exposed, yet despite the widespread concern, social media can also undoubtedly bring benefits to young people that use it. For example, socialisation, communication and relationships have all been made easier to manage, whilst health information and emotional support have also been made more accessible. Furthermore, social media platforms also provide an opportunity for young people to express who they are and promote positive self expression and have provided the platform for a ‘revolution’ in young people’s engagement in politics (Orehek and Human, 2017).

This situation leaves parents, and indeed teachers, in a seemingly permanent battle between the potential educational and social advantages of social media, and the possible negative effects that some content may have on children’s attitudes, behaviour and safety.

In an effort to discover more about this conundrum, and offer research-based guidance to both educators and parents, I undertook an investigation that also formed part of my MA in Educational Leadership and Management. I conducted a critical examination of the importance of parental engagement, the disadvantages of social media and the current practice of parents when mediating their children’s social media usage. Furthermore, I am happy to be able to share that research with you for free on Apple iBooks.

 

ADE Worldwide Institute 2018: 5 Star Points From The Lone Star State.

Austin, Texas was the incredible destination for the Apple Distinguished Educators 2018 Worldwide Institute. Alongside 400 other educators, from 38 different countries, Institute took place in mid-July whilst Texas basked in a heatwave that was, according to one local, “as hot as a billy goat in a pepper patch”. It involved four intense days of learning, networking, brainstorming and creating. As ever, there were a million things to take home but I thought I would summarise 5 star points from the Lone Star State…

1. Everyone Can Create

The main drive behind #ADE2018 was that ‘Everyone Can Create’. I believe this is the case whether you have an Apple Device or not; anybody can pick up a pencil and create some artwork. However, if you are lucky enough to have an iPad you can not only develop your artwork skills, but you can create remarkably high quality film, animation, music, code, art and photography all from the same device.

Some depressing statistics about the corrosion of creativity in schools were shared during one seminar that particularly resonated with me. The data showed how there has been a deprioritisation of creativity in many school systems across the globe. The UK is no exception to this worrying trend where teaching to the test is becoming the norm. Even Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of Ofsted, has warned that children’s chances of getting a “broad and balanced education” are at risk due to exam reforms. However, Apple have created some amazing iBook curriculum guides that can help your pupils to make remarkable creations on their iPads that will be released this Autumn.

The focus on creativity reminded why we have a 1:2:1 deployment  at my school and why it is important for children to be given the opportunity to create. Whilst it’s true that everyone can pick up a pencil, not everyone can pick up a piano. But with an iPad you can can pick up a whole orchestra and have each instrument at your finger-tips, which leads me to my next star point…

2. Austin Rocks (literally) – and so can you…

Austin is home to many amazing things. One of the bridges that crosses the Colorado River is home to an estimated 1.5 million bats, that choose to leave their home at dusk in search of food. The stream of bats leaving the bridge is a remarkable sight that hundreds of people gather to watch every evening. In the river itself, turtles swim freely and if you choose to higher a paddle board or kayak, you can get a close up view of them as they surface for air or bask in the sun. Austin also brands itself as the “Live Music Capital of The World” and when taking a stroll through the City, there is literally music playing on every street and the musicianship is on another scale.

However, with iOS, each and every one of us can emulate these musicians with some of the incredible features of GarageBand. The GarageBand demo was one of the highlights of the week; many of the superb features were shared including the ‘Learn to Play’ interactive tutorials that can help everybody learn an instrument. Furthermore, there is a specific Everyone Can Create Music guide, arriving in Autumn, that will help teachers facilitate some awesome music production in their classrooms.

3. The Schoolwork App can seriously enhance workflow

Another workflow enhancing tool that was shared was ‘Schoolwork’. The cloud based App provides teachers with the ability to create, distribute and annotate student work whilst providing instant feedback. Furthermore, almost any content can be easily shared and you can collaborate with students in real-time! There is even a growing list of educational apps with which you can monitor progress through Schoolwork. For Schoolwork to work, you will need it set up in Apple School Manager and therefore, the devices need to be part of the DEP (Device Enrollment Program). More information on getting started with Schoolwork can be found here.

However, an interesting question that a few of us ADE’s asked ourselves, was where does this leave iTunesU? Many schools, including my own, have invested time and effort in creating iTunesU courses and hope that support and updates will continue.

4. The Accessibility Features of iOS are unbelievably good.

Another highlight was the Apple presentation concerning the accessibility features that are inbuilt into every iPad. From simple functions like zoom and magnifier, that can assist the visually impaired, to more complex tools utilised by the remarkable ADE, Sady Paulson. Not only were we treated to a live FaceTime with Sady, who has Cerebal Palsy, we also saw this incredible film that was edited and directed by her that summarises some of the tools much more eloquently than I ever could.

It would be well worth having a conversation with the SENCO in your context to see if they are aware of how children with different educational needs can take advantage of these extraordinary features that have clearly been a labour of love for the Apple team behind them.

5. Keynote and Pages can save your school serious dollar

The iWorks update includes some brilliant new features to Keynote and Pages, both of which are free and come with any purchased iPad.

Regarding Keynote, the fact that you can now export your presentation as a movie, means that you can create some brilliant animations – particularly when combined with the Apple Pencil. The pencil functionality means that you can animate drawings using slideshows when using the ‘Line Draw’ build. It really is a cool feature and there are some great examples out there on Twitter – just take a look at the #EveryoneCanCreate feed. Certainly, I feel that the flexibility of KeyNote could mean the end of justifying the £10 fee for Explain Everything.

As far as Pages is concerned, it too has brilliant functionality with the Apple Pencil, effectively becoming a powerful sketching tool as well. The workflow means you can easily create interactive EPUB books that can be viewed in iBooks. When starting a document, scroll down to find the Books template. Once selected, you can add text, photos, image galleries, videos, shapes, tables, charts and your own drawings to your document. On iOS you can also record audio directly to your document. This effectively means we will no longer need to spend £5 on purchasing the Book Creator App.

By exploring these apps in a little more detail and utilising all their features, schools can save at least £15 per device, which in the current environment of budgetary difficulties, represent substantial savings to educational establishments.

Final Thoughts

The ADE community is truly exceptional and I feel privileged to be part of a group that includes some of the most passionate and innovative educators on Earth. I can’t wait to see all the projects, that originated in Austin, come to life across The Globe. In my context, plans are already underway to revolutionise digital literacy. 

The personal connections are too numerous to mention here, but it is worth pointing out that it is not just digital devices that bind us together. Moreover, it is the sharing of practice, ideas, friendship and the drive for change that really unites us and make us a true force for evolution in educational institutions worldwide.

The Challenges of Changing Digital Culture

Culture as a concept is infamously hard to characterize but is one of the most important concepts in education. Kaplan and Owings (2013) suggest that school culture can be understood by established, yet unspoken assumptions, values, beliefs, practices and actions. Schein (2010) agrees, stating that an organisation’s culture is the intrinsic basic assumptions and beliefs held by its members.

Therefore, when Hodas (1993) suggests that, until recently, the last technologies to have a surviving impact on schools were the textbook and blackboard, it becomes immediately clear that for established norms and practices to change to incorporate digital technologies, a significant change in school-specific culture is required. There are of course immediate difficulties; computers and digital technology are not culturally neutral. By their very nature they change discourse and traditional means of communication as they influence classroom social interactions.

There lies the difficulty; a change to teaching style required by a shift in culture (due to the adoption of technology) involves movement of those teacher beliefs and assumptions which are often stable and resistant to change.  Without such a shift, combined with the cultural norms of contentment and comfort-zone mentality, purchased technology may never make it out of it’s box. In other words, higher levels of use are far more likely to occur when the perception of technological value is high and the physical resources low rather than the other way round.

Imperative in driving any such change in school culture is the role of leadership. Much of the responsibility to progress digital culture remains in the hands of school leaders as it is they who have the ability to determine the cultural norms and values and decide which technologies correlate with them. Indeed, Stoll (1998, p13) describes school leaders as “culture founders”, who are ultimately responsibility for changing culture by introducing new values and beliefs, whilst Schein (2010, p11) argues that perhaps the “only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture”.

Sharing a Vision

A good place to start for an effective school leader wishing to integrate technology within the culture of a school is to ensure they have a clear vision for the role of the educational technology in their context. Successful school leaders should facilitate the development and agreement of visions that encapsulate best practice with regard to teaching and learning. Indeed, McKinsey and Co (2010) investigated a number of educational systems worldwide to ascertain which factors consistently heralded improvement. They discovered that nearly every school leader they questioned confirmed that establishing both vision and direction were among the most significant attributes of their success. However, for the vision to be successfully realised, an effective school leader should ensure that it is established in conjunction with teachers, and even other members of the school community. Unless leaders share the formation of the school vision for how (and why) technology will enhance both teaching and learning, teachers may not be motivated to integrate it within their pedagogical approach.

Barriers to Culture Change

However, even after establishing a collaborative vision, changing culture, even in the most accommodating of settings, is difficult to achieve. Ertmer (2005) points out that the individual philosophical beliefs of teachers are not easily changed whilst Newhouse and Clarkson (2008) reported that a wide-variety of teachers were less than enthusiastic about the changes required to their pedagogical approach that were associated with the introduction of digital technologies into their everyday teaching.

Indeed, it is often the case that the more an approach is viewed as innovative, it becomes more likely that teachers will be skeptical and view it as a potential fad or threat. So how can school leaders combat these numerous challenges in their efforts to successfully embed a culture of using digital technology to enhance and improve learning? Ertmer (1999) has distinguished the various hurdles into two categories that highlight the importance of teachers internal charactieristics; ‘first-order barriers’ are external and unaccountable to teachers, whilst ‘second-order barriers’ are internal and reflect personal beliefs and attitudes.

First Order

  • Resources as a Key Variable

Typically, teachers cite a lack of resources as a major factor in their struggles to adopt digital technology into their curricula; including hardware, software, time and technical support. Any lack of access to relevant technological equipment is then (albeit understandably) used as reason for the underutilisation of classroom technology. After all, if there are no new computers or software installed and no technicians to install them, teachers would be less likely to break away from their everyday, pedagogical comfort zones.

In most schools, the overall school budget is managed by the senior leadership team. Gibson (2002) expresses his concern about the potential negative influence on technology adoption by those in charge of budgets who lack the required knowledge or understanding to buy the required resources to progress. Therefore, school leaders who wish to adopt and integrate technology will need to ensure that sensible and well planned finances are available.

However, literature indicates that even if plentiful resources are purchased, increased availability of digital hardware and software is not necessarily sufficient to encourage classroom integration (Gibson 2002, Ertmer 2005, Anderson and Dexter 2005). A comprehensive study by Cuban (2001) provided further evidence that increased access to computers, hardware and software does not always lead to widespread and beneficial classroom use. Possession of digital technology does not guarantee effective integration; of more importance is the teachers ability to know how to integrate it. School leaders who believe by simply purchasing technology their schools will suddenly witness mass integration will be sadly disappointed.

  • Time as a key variable

A valuable resource that does not break the bank is time; although it does represent another huge factor within this variable. During the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow project, researchers such as Sandholtz, Ringstaff, and Dwyer (1997, cited in Ertmer 2005) concluded that it takes five to six years to integrate technology to the extent advocated by constructivist (a view of learning in which people construct their own understanding and knowledge through experiencing things and then reflecting on those experiences) reform efforts. Therefore, school leaders who wish to adopt technology should not expect an overnight solution and should be willing to allow time for a successful adoption process to take place.

Second Order:

  • Modelling Behaviour as a Key Variable

Teachers who consider technology to be threatening would be more likely to adjust their normal practice to incorporate technology if a school leader can prove to them that it has advantages. For fundamental change to occur, leaders need to successfully model the new practices they expect to replace the old ones. Indeed, Stegall (1998) suggests that it is imperative school leaders consistently use digital technologies, read books about computers, take part in personal and professional  development opportunities, attend technology conferences, join technology organisations, find experts to help and give advice and take the opportunity to visit and critique schools that have successfully integrated technology into their curricula. These observations concur with the association between beliefs and personal experience as suggested by a theory proposed by Nespor (1987); if personal experience leads to the formation of beliefs then logic suggests changes to those beliefs could be effected through positive experiences. Therefore, if modelling good practice with technologies is itself to take place, school leaders need to create an environment of support and collaboration to maximise it’s success.

  • Teacher Knowledge as a Key Variable

Teacher knowledge has a huge impact on their classroom decisions, therefore it is imperative that school leaders help them to adequately develop and improve their knowledge systems if culture is to successfully develop. Interestingly, Shulman (1986) set out a framework that enabled the subsequent analysis of teacher knowledge by summarizing it into seven categories; pedagogical knowledge, content knowledge, knowledge of classroom management strategies, curricular knowledge, learner knowledge, context knowledge and knowledge about educational goals and beliefs. Three decades later it is evident that digital technology knowledge has emerged as a potential eighth category. However, it is not as simple as a teacher knowing how to switch on an interactive whiteboard or use an iPad.  For example, teachers who wish to efficiently adopt technology into their pedagogical approach need to be able to redesign curriculum, manage software and hardware and ascertain which technologies or applications allow successful integration and improved learning to take place. Therefore, school leaders must create a culture that ensures relevant teacher knowledge is given the chance to develop accordingly.

  • Teacher Beliefs as a Key Variable

Kagan (1992) suggests that often what teachers regard as their professional knowledge, could be considered more of a belief. Many of the tedious eduTwitter arguments between so-called progressive and traditional teachers corroborate this very point. Indeed, it is these attitudes that frequently carry more substance than knowledge when determining the behavior of teachers. Many other researchers concur that teachers’ beliefs concerning the value of technology and student learning were internal components that stopped teachers from utilising technology (Anderson and Dexter 2005, Zhou and Bryant 2006).  Teacher beliefs and, in some cases, innate resistance to change, is therefore another factor that could adversely affect a positive deviation in culture. Indeed, research by Honey and Moeller (1990) discovered that teachers with student-focused pedagogical beliefs were generally better at integrating technology whilst those with more traditional beliefs encountered much greater challenges to do so.  Furthermore, their observations saw that teachers with predominantly traditional beliefs generally implement less sophisticated technology use whilst those with constructivist beliefs implement a more student-centered pedagogical approach to technological integration. There are a number of potential factors involved with this but teachers with traditional beliefs may simply distrust the role of technology as they perceive it to detract from the relationship between teacher and student (Cuban 2001). Furthermore, many teachers  believe technology to simply be another weight added to their already overloaded list of responsibilities (Ertmer 2005).

However, Fang (1996) noted inconsistencies between teacher beliefs and what materializes in their classrooms. He goes on to suggest that actually contextual factors hindered teachers’ ability to routinely administer their beliefs in their classrooms. This means that there could be potential for school leaders to develop the foundations for change, when teachers have constructivist beliefs, via the establishment of a culture of innovation. However, school leaders must also be fully aware that teacher beliefs are seldom fully revised and “thus over time, become deeply personal, highly engrained, and extremely resistant to change” (Ertmer 2005, p13). Bingimlas (2009) probes a little deeper and concludes that resistance to change itself is not necessarily a barrier in it’s own right; perhaps, he suggests, it is a sign that something  is not right; why is their a resistance to change occuring?

Finally, Bandura (1997) argues that in some cases, even if a teacher does believe in the advantages of integrating digital technology within their pedagogy, the questions they have over their own ability – their self-efficacy to implement the change – will itself be a significant barrier.

  • Self Efficacy as a Key Variable

Without self efficacy both knowledge and belief in technology are insufficient to facilitate student learning (Ertmer and Ottenbreit 2010). Bandura (1997) describes self-efficacy as the belief in one‘s ability to organise and accomplish the required course of action to produce results. The significance of this, with regard to technological integration, was noted by Wozney, Venkatesh and Abrami (2006) who surveyed 764 teachers to discover one of the two highest predictors of technology use was their confidence of meeting their goals using the technology at their disposal. A survey by The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA 2004) concurred; the area that encouraged most responses about using technology in the classroom was “lack of confidence”. The same study concluded “many teachers who do not consider themselves to be well skilled in using ICT feel anxious about using it in front of a class of children who perhaps know more than they do”.

Leaders therefore should devote time and effort to raise teacher confidence to utilise technology, beyond simply administrative tasks, to accomplish and meet student learning objectives. One of the best options available to school leaders is the facilitation of positive experiences for teachers, with digital technology, within the context of their classroom. Successful personal experiences in which the potential of classroom technology is clearly articulated are most likely to build teacher confidence. In other words, the variable of modelling good practice with technology can improve self-efficacy.

In conclusion, awareness of first-order barriers will help school leaders address lack of technological self-efficacy. For example, giving sufficient time for teachers to get to know the technology and start to enjoy successful experiences with it are strategies school leaders could engage with. Furthermore, working alongside knowledgeable colleagues or encouraging staff to join professional learning communities could also help leaders to improve the self-efficacy of their colleagues.  Moreover, school leaders need to develop a culture of learning, where teachers know that opportunities for professional development will help improve their practice, skills and knowledge. Teachers need to be able to tailor their professional development for direct impact on their own practice and be afforded the opportunity to take responsibility for pedagogical improvement. When adopting new technologies or strategies successfully, they must become an everyday part of teachers’ repertoire with tangible results and positive impact in their classrooms. Indeed, if a school leader is able to increase confidence, offer positive experiences for teachers to improve their skills, knowledge and understanding, they are more likely establish self-efficacious behaviour. However, like teacher knowledge and beliefs, self-efficacy by itself is not enough to ensure technology is adopted in schools appropriately. Nevertheless, school leaders should take heed when considering that it is those individuals with a positive sense of efficacy that help to shape a culture that could ultimately overcome the significant challenges that occur in the adoption of technology.

References:

Anderson, R.E. & Dexter, S. (2005) School Technology Leadership: An Empirical Investigation of Prevalence and Effect. Educational Adminsitration Quarterly, 41: pp.49-82

Bandura, A. (1997) Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.

Bingimlas, K. (2009) Barriers to the Successful Integration of ICT in Teaching and Learning Environments: A Review of the Literature,Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, pp.235-245.

BECTA (2004) A review of the research literature on barriers to the uptake of ICT by teacher.

Cuban, L. (2001) Oversold and underused: computers in the classroom. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Ertmer, P (2005) Teacher Pedagogical Beliefs: The Final Frontier in Our Quest for Technology Integration? Educational Technology Research and Development, December 2005, 53(4): pp.25-39

Ertmer, P & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A (2010) Teacher Technology Change, Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(3): pp.255-284.

Fang, Z. (1996). A review of research on teacher beliefs and practices. Educational Research, 38(1): pp.47–65.

Gibson, Ian  (2002). Leadership, technology, and education: achieving a balance in new school leader thinking and behavior in preparation for twenty-first century global learning environments, Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education, 11(3): pp.315-334

Hodas, S. (1993). Technology refusal and the organizational culture of schools. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 1(10).

Honey, M., & Moeller, B. (1990). Teachers’ beliefs and technology integration: Different values, different understandings. (Technical Report 6): Center For Technology in Education.

Kaplan, L. S. & Owings, W. A. (2013). School culture and change as learning. In Culture re-boot: Reinvigorating school culture to improve student outcomes (pp. 1-36). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

McKinsey & Co. (2010) ‘How does a school system improve?’ [Online]. Available from: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/social_sector/how_does_a_school_system_improve

Nespor, J. (1987). The role of beliefs in the practice of teaching. National Institute of Education, Washington DC.

Schein, E.H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership. 4thed San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. p.6.

Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2): pp.4-14.

Stegall, P (1998) The Principal – Key to Technology Implementation, Presentation at the National Catholic Education Association Convention April 15 1998. Available at: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED424614.pdf

Wozney L, Venkatesh V & Abrami P (2006), Implementing Computer Technologies: Teachers’ Perceptions and Practices, Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance Concordia University.

Zhao, Y., & Bryant, F. L. (2006) Can teacher technology integration training alone lead to high levels of technology integration? A qualitative look at teachers’ technology integration after state mandated technology training. Electronic Journal for the Integration of Technology in Education, 5: pp.53–62.

iPad CPD for schools; how to get it right.

During the previous 30 years, powerful digital technology has restructured how we communicate and how we live. Internet-ready mobile phones, tablets and laptops have become an intrinsic part of everyday life that has been mirrored by a seismic growth of educational technology in schools. Indeed, global expenditure is expected to reach as much as £190 billion by 2020 (Spaven, 2016). Broad academic opinion suggests that digital technology has the potential to improve learning opportunities, workflow and even reduce teacher workload (Bingimlas, 2009).

Nevertheless, some research indicates that digital devices in schools can also have a significant negative effect on outcomes and can be an expensive gamble for schools when budgets are already stretched. Some difficulties derive from an incoherent understanding of the everyday instructional benefits that technology can facilitate (Adams, 2016) . Moreover, much of the academic literature suggests that many of the challenges originate from poor long-term planning that failed to consider network infrastructure, ownership models, stakeholder engagement, evaluation of progress and perhaps most fundamentally of all, associated continuous professional development (CPD).

As teachers know, there is an ever-growing variety of different CPD options available to schools, however the increasing range by no means guarantees quality. Like with the adoption of technology, ill-considered CPD leadership and management can be expensive and is unlikely to wield improved student outcomes. For every expensive failed technological adoption there is an equally ineffective education “guru” who is willing to charge schools a small fortune for their wisdom yet with little or no evidence of impact. Whatever CPD you experience, it is worth remembering that it should not be a short-term intervention, rather a long-term process.

At the school I work at, we have invested significantly in digital infrastructure which has been the backbone behind a 1:2:1 iPad adoption from Year Six to Year Eight, where the expectation is that all pupils bring in their own device to assist with their learning. The project is nearly at the end of it’s third year and previous in-house research has demonstrated that opinion on the iPad scheme from teachers, pupils and parents has been positive. Nevertheless, when considering that one of the prevailing reasons for failed technology implementations is a lack of suitable continuous professional development, we have offered a variety of different CPD solutions to help teachers and pupils get the best out of the devices. However, how useful has it been? I recently conducted some research for my MA in Educational Leadership and Management to ascertain perceived value and work out some useful strategies moving forward, which can also be applied to more general CPD as well.

Resources:

Paramount to the success of any technological adoption is the procurement of suitable resources. This does not simply mean buying a bunch of iPads.  The accompanying infrastructure all needs to work as well. Although, it should be remembered, even when resources are available, it does not guarantee a successful integration. 

 

This study revealed a sizable minority (33.3%) of teachers reporting they felt they did not have the required resources to successfully deploy iPads. Interestingly, the iPads themselves were not cited as resources that were causing issues, rather it was surrounding infrastructure such as projectors, access to devices and time that were cited. Instead of simply amassing more technology, leadership and management need to ensure a sustainable plan is in place for the maintenance of all equipment involved in iPad workflow.

Internal Workshops

High-quality internal professional development offers the opportunity to remove barriers and improve teacher efficacy (Kopcha, 2011). We have run internal workshops on a varity of Apps, pedagogical concepts and ways in which to integrate iPads into everyday teaching.

 

80% of all respondents had attended internal workshops; these have taken various formats and have normally occurred on average three times a term. Furthermore, 100% of attendees reported a positive impact, 28.6% stating a ‘highly positive’ impact. The qualitative data cited ‘the chance to learn in a ‘relaxed environment’, ‘learning new skills and gaining confidence’, ‘able to ask questions’, and ‘peer-to-peer collaboration and hands on learning, not just a session delivered from the front’ as advantages of the in-house workshops and reasons why staff returned for more than one session

Nevertheless, the data also revealed that 57% of teachers had only attended between 1-3 sessions; timing and workload were cited as reasons for this. Therefore, leadership and management should undertake a creative analysis of time allowance for CPD and make subsequent provision for staff development.

External Workshops

Sometimes expensive external workshops or CPD sessions can prove to be intellectually superficial and inadequate for teacher needs. However, we have tended to utilise free opportunities like the highly regarded sessions run by TRAMS in London. Again, all respondents reported that external workshops had a positive impact; 40% implying it was highly positive. The opportunity for ‘networking’, to ‘chat to experts’ and ‘see the wider pictures of how Apps can be used’ also provided qualitative information about the advantages as deemed by staff. Nevertheless, over 50% of the teachers who responded had never actually attended an external workshop and 60% only attended one session.

The unlikelihood of long-lasting change occurring when professional development is not continuous is well-documented. Therefore, by their very nature workshops with no follow-up are unlikely to have a deep impact. Teachers referenced workload, cover and finances as reasons why attendance was generally low.

Coaching and Mentoring

Mentoring should be considered as a process to manage career transition, normally between an experienced mentor and a less experienced mentee. Various studies suggest that mentor programs assist novice teachers and the moral and emotional support is valued as much as pedagogical guidance. Coaching is a different, but equally as powerful mechanism for situated professional development that involves peer-to-peer discussions that provide the coached teacher objective feedback on both weaknesses and strengths in self-selected areas. Coaching can help develop meta-cognitive articulation, reflection and exploration skills whilst helping teachers to become more aware of their pedagogic understanding.

Only 34% of respondents confirmed they had experienced either coaching or mentoring as a form of iPad CPD. All respondents reported a positive impact, but coaching in particular had a high impact upon practice according to the results. Qualitative feedback confirmed perceived advantages of coaching and mentoring as ‘a chance to ask very basic questions’, ‘developing good relations with trusted partners’, ability to ‘ask specific questions to my own use’, ‘can-do rassurance and ‘gain in confidence’. Disadvantages were cited as time constraints and internet connectivity issues.

Personal Learning Networks (PLN’s)

Although not all PLN’s are digital, teachers are increasingly utilising digital technology for CPD. Global networks of support allow them to take advantage of collective knowledge and experiences from friends, colleagues, teachers and educationalists from all over the planet. These PLN’s offer constant, on-demand support therefore allowing for cost and time effective development of practitioner careers.

Teachers involved in PLN’s formed 43% of respondents and 100% of them reported an impact on practice. Advantages specified included ‘new ideas’, ‘comfort knowing that colleagues struggle with same issues’, ‘keeping up-to-date with current issues in teaching’ and ‘amazing for subject knowledge’. Nevertheless, 57% of teachers were therefore not benefiting from the perceived advantages of Personal Learning Networks and again, time restraints were revealed as a difficulty. The sheer amount of information was also mentioned as a disadvantage.

Apple Teacher

The Apple Teacher is a free professional learning course aimed at supporting and celebrating educators who use Apple technology for teaching and learning. Eight badges are required to pass and each badge can be obtained after completing a short, multiple-choice quiz on-line. It has been introduced as part of the iPad CPD programme within the context of this study as an optional CPD pathway. 30% of respondents reported that they had passed the course and were now Apple Teachers whilst 40% reported to have earned some of the badges – this constituted 12 teachers.  12 respondents also reported the program had impacted upon their practice. Advantages of Apple Teacher included learning new methods, increase in confidence and improved proficiency.

 

Two teachers reported ‘No Impact’ from Apple Teacher. All disadvantages that were shared once more focused on the school level barrier of time as being the main constraint.

Practices, Beliefs and Attitudes

The behaviour of teachers is normally determined by attitude as opposed to knowledge (Pajares, 1992). Therefore, preordained negative views of different types of CPD has the potential to be a significant barrier to any introduction. The problem deepens for school leaders hopeful of integrating coaching, mentoring or PLN’s as teacher beliefs are rarely completely reversed and, over the course of time, can become ever more firmly entrenched and highly resistant to change (Ertmer, 2005). Nevertheless, there are inconsistencies concerning teacher belief and the actualities of classroom behaviour. Indeed, contextual influences could hinder the opportunity for teachers to administer personal beliefs in their classrooms; for example, avoiding high quality personalised CPD within an overriding culture of learning and innovation would be incompatible.

Regarding the use of iPads in education, general opinions at my school were positive among respondents; 88% believed that iPads allowed for greater ownership of learning whilst 72% did not consider iPads to be a distraction. Indeed, not one teacher disagreed with the notion that if used effectively, iPads had the potential to enrich the learning experience of pupils. 

Conclusions

In conclusion, nearly every modern proposal for improving education and adopting new technologies cites high-quality professional development as a key component. Therefore, as the Independent Preparatory School at which this research took place recently adopted Wi-Fi and iPads, an evaluation of the associated CPD provision offered an opportunity to critically reflect on current practice and consider possibilities to improve teaching and learning. This study ascertained a positive overview of the iPad CPD provision and indeed, an encouraging staff attitude towards the devices. It revealed that the form of CPD itself need not be a concern as long as it provides high quality, personalised opportunities for teachers to improve teaching and learning when using iPads in their classroom. However, it also revealed that many teachers were not utilising all the different CPD opportunities at their disposal and raised concerns about the availability of resources.

Therefore, this study proposes that to improve the situation and help maintain a genuine learning culture in which iPads are ubiquitously used by teachers to facilitate transformational learning opportunities, there are ten key actions for development:

  • A holistic shared understanding of the aims of iPad CPD
  • Relevant resources need to be available and maintained
  • Raising awareness of available personalised CPD opportunities
  • Utilisation of PLN’s to be encouraged
  • Sufficient time allowance needs to be made for professional development
  • iPad CPD opportunities need to be personalised
  • iPad CPD needs to be monitored and impact evaluated
  • Positive personal experience of iPad needs to be facilitated
  • Good practice needs to be shared and modelled
  • An environment created that encourages teacher leadership

In addition, this research necessitated a subsequent measurement of impact via future rounds of research.

It is widely acknowledged that simple acquisition of technology in education will do nothing to improve standards. This research and the wider literature agree that school leaders, and those in charge of CPD, whether iPad related or not, need to develop a culture of learning, where teachers know that opportunities for professional development will help improve their practice, skills and knowledge. Teachers need to be able to tailor their professional development for direct impact on their own practice and be afforded the opportunity to take responsibility for pedagogical improvement. When adopting iPads or indeed other new technologies or strategies successfully, they must become an everyday part of teachers’ repertoire with tangible results and positive impact in their classrooms. The needs of teachers are best ascertained by clear and open-dialogue. With relevant and positive conversations taking place, the evolution of common-purpose may contribute to the ability of this school, and those further afield, to maintain and develop the use of iPads in a transformational way. Indeed, the creation of a culture with genuine distributed leadership could also provide an environment where teachers routinely and willingly learn from one another and from their wider PLN’s. Furthermore, teachers would be more likely to feel empowered to experiment with iPads and utilise the new skills and knowledge they have procured.

Like teachers, each educational system, and each school within it, must be regarded with their own identity, idiosyncrasies and culture. Nevertheless, unless change initiatives ultimately have direct, positive impact on students for whose future teachers are partly responsible, they are unlikely to succeed anywhere. Although it is too early to ascertain any-long term impact of this research, the findings of my study have already impacted upon practice at my school. The mentoring and coaching program has been expanded and more people are becoming involved with the planning and delivery of iPad CPD; indicative of increased distributed-leadership. Furthermore, this research has already helped shape future technological, iPad CPD and leadership developmental plans and will continue to do so with further action-research cycles.

Fundamentally, if school leadership teams are focused on the provision of the highest possible standards for their students and feel iPads can assist with that goal, they must develop and sustain a culture that encourages teachers to experiment, discover and learn from their mistakes together.

References:

Adams, R. (2016) Students who use digital devices in class ‘perform worse in exams’. The Guardian. 11th May 2016, [online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/may/11/students-who-use-digital-devices-in-class-perform-worse-in-exams

Bingimlas, K.A. (2009) Barriers to the successful integration of ICT in teaching and learning environments: A review of the literature. Eurasia journal of mathematics, science & technology education5(3).

Ertmer, P. (2005) Teacher Pedagogical Beliefs: The Final Frontier in Our Quest for Technology Integration? Educational Technology Research and Development, [online] 53(4): pp.25- 39. Available at: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02504683

Kopcha, T. (2011) Teachers’ perceptions of the barriers to technology integration and practices with technology under situated professional development. Computers and Education, [online] 59(4): pp.1109-1121. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360131512001352

Spaven, E. (2016) Report: EdTech spend will reach $252bn by 2020 [online]. Available at  https://www.uktech.news/news/report-edtech-spend-will-reach-252bn-2020-20160526

 

 

It’s not whether you use social media, it’s how you use social media…

“It’s not whether you use social media, it’s how you use social media”

On Friday 4th May, we are hosting a Social Media Awareness Afternoon at King’s and for those parents that can not make it, I have linked the presentation to this blog post. The message really centres around the above quote. We live in a digital age where the number of people engaging on social media dwarfs the population of the worlds biggest countries. There is no point in burying our heads in the sand or scare mongering about the inevitable apocalyptic end-game that social media will bring to humanity. Rather, we strongly recommend a proactive, mediative approach where parents educate both themselves and their pupils about the dangers of social media, but also about it’s virtues and ensure that the correct measures are taken to make sure user experience is optimised.

Social media is here to stay. Recent news stories about Facebook data mining and trolls on Twitter have not seen a large decline in the social media giants’ respective user-base. Even if one of the social media giants did fold, it would only be a matter of time before another replaces it and becomes a part of every-day life for everyone with an internet connection. However, the invasive nature of social media in all our lives does highlight the need for education about the pitfalls of clickbait, unsolicited hyperlinks, sharing personal data and digital footprints. We are confident that the children at our school enjoy an engaging digital literacy program whilst at school and also realise that they probably know far more about the social media that they use on a daily basis then most adults. Therefore, during the afternoon, pupils will also be presenting and demonstrating which social-communication tools they use, how they protect themselves and why the power of conversations and communication between parents and pupils is a great way to develop deeper understanding. Furthermore, we will offer reassurance that children’s online lives can be positive if sensible procedures are established and followed. More detailed advice is available in the Prezi below.

http://prezi.com/wfxn5-bnw47q/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy