Leveraging Digital

Based on original image by Ben Kolde on Unsplash

“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”

R. Buckminster Fuller, Author & Inventor

Speaking of the lessons learned from lockdown in their paper titled Activate Deep Learning and Lift from Loss, Quinn, Gardner, Drummy and Fullan, (2021) state:

Our growth in digital competencies has significantly increased our ability to connect and communicate. Consider how parents have become more engaged at this time. Middle and secondary students have had improved email access to teacher support. Social media has broadcasted upbeat and hopeful messaging. Through internet, students have been exposed to some of the finest museums, galleries and events in the world. Collaborative problem-solving meetings are easily conducted by digital. Tech is effective when it moves beyond mere transmission to foster connection and discovery. Why would we let all this go?

In a hybrid world the concept of ‘online first’ is a key principle. The orchestrated, systematic and coherent use of online platforms and tools is essential to creating a successful hybrid learning experience for our learners/ākonga  – and teachers. The online environment becomes the place where everything is made transparent for the learner – and teachers, parents/whānau.

But it must be more than simply a ‘delivery’ mechanism. Consideration needs to be given to including tools and applications that…

  • Enable collaborative engagement in documents
  • Provide feedback to individual learners/ākonga  based on their activity
  • Enable a variety of forms of two-way communication with parents/whānau
  • Allow learners/ākonga  to select the tools that will suit their purposes for the way(s) they want to represent their learning
  • Maintain an ongoing record of learning engagement and record of learning
  • Enable learners/ākonga  to capture and curate their evidence of learning

While many educators and learners/ākonga  already have well developed digital skills and competencies, it cannot be assumed that everyone will be at the level required to participate fully in the digital hybrid environment. Consideration needs to be given as to how this will be built up gradually, with support for everyone involved as they learn new skills and ways of working.

Many learners/ākonga  reported instances of feeling ‘overwhelmed’ by the sheer number of tools and applications teachers were introducing them to during lockdown – often requiring them to set up separate login details for each. A final word of caution about how you leverage digital to support your hybrid approaches – make sure you take account of the issues and concerns regarding cyber-safety. This includes seeking advice before signing up to online apps, avoiding asking learners/ākonga  to post personal information in public areas, establishing protocols to guide behaviour in online forums  etc.

Questions you could use to help identify the practices in your context that promote the use of digital technologies to support and enhance learning include:

  • What guides your decisions about the use of digital technologies in your context?
  • To what extent are digital technologies used to enable higher order tasks and thinking?[1]
  • What measures do you take to ensure your learners/ākonga  are safe online and understand the risks associated with their online behaviours?
  • How do you ensure your learners/ākonga  have the knowledge and skills to use the digital tools at their disposal?
  • How are digital tools used to.
    • Access, manage & share information?
    • Enable collaboration and communication?
    • Capture evidence of learning?

[1] For SAMR model see https://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/Teacher-inquiry/SAMR-model

This post is one of a series of ten being published on this blog that are taken from the document “Codifying Teacher Practice”. This document has been written to provide educators with some guidance on how to approach the challenge of shifting their pedagogical approach as they embrace hybrid learning and includes templates and activity to help educators and leaders explore this in their own context. This paper follows two previous thought pieces relating to hybrid learning, both of which can be found on the FutureMakers website. If you’d like to receive an advance copy of this paper please email derek@futuremakers to have one emailed to you.

Leave a Reply