Digital Literacy and Technology Enhanced Learning

In Practice

Why is Technology Enhanced Learning important?

Technology Enhanced Learning is one current approach to teaching, which is well supported by research data. Along with Blended Learning as a pedagogical approach, it can help to actively address the issues highlighted in the recent Lords Report 'Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future'.

At the heart of this report is the concern that our learners (from KS1 through to University), do not possess the in-depth technological skills that they will need for future employment markets. If this is not addressed, they will lack a distinct competitive advantage over learners from other countries.

It is suggested that schools need to develop a more mature approach to Digital Literacy and use of Information Technology if we are to fulfil learners' potential to take part fully in the changing world of work.

What is Technology Enhanced Learning?

Before the changes to the National Curriculum, Technology Enhanced Learning was referred to as ICT across the curriculum; where the focus of the learning in the other subjects is not on the IT but how IT is used to enhance and support teaching and learning. Even more importantly, how its use can evidence the learning.  

Traditionally, the teaching of ICT skills was left to the ICT Department or specialist ICT coordinator. The new and academically rigorous Computing curriculum, which requires a sufficient amount of curriculum time in itself, raises a number of important questions.

Particularly at secondary level, questions arise around time tabling, scheduling of when, how and who teaches these skills: i.e. functional ICT, creative uses of technology and online safety. (Ofsted now uses this term instead of e-safety after advice from the UKSIC).

Also under discussion are what the coverage of skills needs to be to support other subjects, and rooms or equipment are available to do this effectively. These are covered in Managing the transition from ICT to Computing FAQs.

How do we manage the overlap between Digital Literacy (including online safety) and Technology Enhanced Learning?

Most schools have an online safety coordinator, because it is a whole school issue. As online safety is considered part of Digital Literacy does this mean that this person’s role should be extended to be a Digital Literacy coordinator as well? If so, what is the overlap with the Computing Coordinator or Head of Department?

Furthermore, Technology Enhanced Learning is also part of the whole school agenda in much the same way as ICT being used across the curriculum. The focus of this role is quite different as this person should be monitoring the use of technology to enhance pedagogy, and providing evidence of learning in other subjects.

With Computing being seen as an academically rigorous subject, and with limited curriculum time, is it the sole responsibility of the Computing Department or specialist teacher to develop their learners’ Digital Literacy and the technical proficiency skills that should develop alongside them? The Managing the Transition FAQs helps to answer these questions.

How do I support Technology Enhanced Learning in all subjects?

Due to the rigorous nature of the 2014 National Curriculum for Computing, and the paucity of Digital Literacy skills laid out in the Lords Report, it is doubtful that the meaningful development of these other allied skills and knowledge can be adequately, and completely, covered by Computing colleagues alone.

At present, in Primary schools, this area of learning is often taking place across the curriculum using a range of new and innovative learning models. One of the more popular approaches is the SAMR model. First developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, this model supports and enables teachers to design, develop, and deliver learning experiences infused with the use of meaningful technology, in any subject area.

Applying the SAMR approach to Technology Enhanced Learning across the curriculum in schools could help to infuse Technology Enhanced Learning and the learning of Digital Literacy. SAMR's use in secondary education could be successful if undertaken by non-Computing specialists across different departments. This would enable learners to achieve more depth in their learning of technology and Digital Literacy in the different areas they would use in the workplace. It would also help to widen and strengthen colleagues' teaching experience, knowledge, outcomes and results.

How does the SAMR model work?

The SAMR model identifies 4 approaches to using technology in a learning environment.

Substitution - Whereby the device is simply used to substitute an existing tool, with which the outcomes would be the same. For example, typing out work using a word processing package rather than writing by hand. This is simply substituting one tool for another, with little impact on the learning through technology.

Augmentation - Here the use of technology augments the learning. For example, a teacher could use what has been typed up and get learners to use a thesaurus app and other online writing tools to help augment what would normally be possible using traditional tools.

Modifies - Where the device modifies the learning process, or its outcome to produce something that has a modification that could not be achieved by traditional methods alone. For example, the learners could use a range of devices to collaboratively research and create a multimedia story that allows for the inclusion of different media and multimedia tools (e.g. flipbooks).

Redefinition - The pinnacle of the model is redefinition: when the learning that takes place and its outcomes are completely redefined by technology and could have never be replicated using other, more traditional methods. An example of this is for the learners to collaborate to create a real-time story, or project using Twitter, or similar tools. Making it a kind of learning that redefines the learning experience and outcomes in a way not possible without technology.

Is it the responsibility of all teachers to deliver Technology Enhanced Learning and Digital Literacy?

One view is that each teacher, whatever their subject area, is responsible for the awareness of online safety in their subject, despite a designated online safety officer. It could be suggested that this is no different with the skills, knowledge and practice of Digital Literacy and Technology Enhanced Learning. There is little doubt that those colleagues who are willing to take this on board will be surprised by the engagement, results, and learning attitudes they see flourish in their learners. This is the perfect springboard for raising standards.

How can we embed technology Enhanced Learning in other subjects?

Training and support for colleagues in using technology in the classroom is an important consideration. It is important to be realistic about how long it will take to achieve the goals set. How much support will colleagues need from Computing specialist teachers to implement these new approaches successfully e.g. do you try and support all colleagues at once? Or is the focus on developing Champion Users of technology in each subject, Key Stage or year group teams? The FAQs on Managing the transition from ICT to Computing can help with identifying strategies for supporting colleagues and learners needs.

Access to computer suites is limited. What are our options?

If the vision of the school incorporates the idea of the teaching of Computing wherever possible without computers, using ‘unplugged’ materials, this can free up access to computer suites by scheduling lessons in classrooms without computers. There are many advantages to this, including changing the perceptions of learners towards the subject of Computing. However, this approach can meet some resistance in Secondary education from colleagues in the Computing department who don’t expect to have to book IT suites.

An alternative approach is to invest in portable devices, such as laptops and tablet computers, which is often popular in schools with limited classroom space. However, transporting laptop trolleys around school can be challenging in schools with many floors and no lifts. With this approach, it is crucial to ensure that somebody is responsible for regularly charging and maintaining them, and that this is done consistently. There is nothing that will put a nervous teacher off teaching with technology more than devices not being charged and poorly maintained.

What are the considerations for introducing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)?

Bring Your Own Device is increasing in popularity as a way of developing technology enhanced learning in schools.

Here are just some of the main considerations around BYOD that have been suggested as guidance from NAACE, Innovate My Schools and others. Before implementing BYOD it is important to consider the following:

  1. The why?: Why Is BYOD good idea? What are the various options, benefits and goals? Consider how and what educational goals it meets. As it is only when this is clear, that the potential role of BYOD, as well as how to measure their progress in learning cycles can be identified.
  2. Get buy in: Consider the justification that will persuade school Governors, parents and colleagues of the benefits to BYOD. This is especially the case with colleagues, where it will be they who need to support multiple devices in their classrooms, not to mention the parents who will often need to provide the device in the first place. It is this planned support from key stakeholders that is critical for BYOD to be successful. It is important to share information, statistics, benefits, as well as addressing any concerns that arise.
  3. Determine devices: Determine what will be allowed on the school campus. Will these requirements change depending on the age of the learners? Depending on your strategy, communicating with learners, colleagues and others stakeholder on why particular devices are allowed or not, is important.
  4. Update policies: Set and share policies for what, when, and how learners can use their devices in school and how this will enforce them. Among these could be whether, or not, learners will be required to connect through the school filter system. For some schools, this is a requirement in order to bring a device to school. In this way, the school are able to control and manage access during school hours.
  5. Plan protocols: Consider what will and won’t be done on personal devices. Also what hours IT support will be available. Many schools leave learner-owned devices to the learners and their parents to manage. But consideration needs to be given to what happens when something goes wrong during school hours. One idea is a learner-run help desk that can provide an easy facility of basic device support without additional staff or budget. This approach will also have the added benefit of giving learners experience and responsibility.
  6. Teach teachers: Provide advice to support lessons across multiple platforms. Providing meaningful professional development will help colleagues know their responsibilities, abilities and limitations. It will also support them with basic troubleshooting information, along with ideas about how they might integrate devices into lessons.
  7. Thinking equal: What do you do with those learners who don’t have a device? Is there sufficient budget to keep a stock of additional devices that learners without a personal device can use? Or could these learners purchase their own device through a work program, earning it by working at the school, sports events and other jobs.
  8. Networking: Ensuring that the wireless infrastructure is ready for the demands of BYOD is critical to the success of BYOD projects. Consider and put in place a robust policy to determine how the school’s primary network will be secure, enabling personally owned devices to connect on a separate LAN, and provide filtered access through that LAN. As BYOD can put a strain on the network and its bandwidth.
  9. Security: Personal devices can also pose a security risk to assets on a school’s network. Therefore, a separate guest network is a good idea.
  10. Perfect platform?: BYOD encourages anytime, anywhere, any device learning. Therefore it is important to provide a safe, mobile, collaborative platform compatible with any device that learners and teachers can access for schoolwork, discussions, resources, assignments, and more. Without this, any move towards BYOD will fail.
  11. Flexibility: This is a step change for many schools. Prepare by visiting and listening to schools who have done already done it — but be prepared to hear unexpected surprises (good and bad). The different stakeholders: teachers, administrators and learners are all bound to have different ideas, experiences and attitudes; which it is important to integrate into the planning process.

How do we identify what the Digital Literacy needs are of the whole school?

We recommend that the Digital Literacy coordinator works with colleagues in other departments to identify the Digital Literacy needs of learners.

This analysis is usually best undertaken during the summer term, in preparation for any re-planning of the curriculum over the summer holidays, to be used during the next academic year.

Ask colleagues to review their learning journeys and use of technology, and to complete a survey of what Digital Literacy skills they need their learners to have at different points during academic year.

Survey colleagues on their Computing/ICT skills during this process to support the advanced planning of staff insets at various points in the school year, to ensure that it directly addresses their needs. Often this process requires follow-up meetings with these members of staff and spending some time talking to them about their future curriculum plans, to tease out the details that a survey can’t capture.

There are many benefits of this approach but mainly it has helps to:

  • build trusting relationship, to provide more relevant CPD during Staff inset.
  • engage colleagues by opening the discussion around Technology Enhanced Learning and its role in school.
  • improve curriculum planning and the learning experience of learners.

Further Reading

Technology Enhance Learning

House of Lords, Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future, Chapter 3
(Primary and Secondary)

Computing At School and Naace: ICT and Computer Science in UK schools (Technology Enhanced Learning on Page 4)
(Primary and Secondary)

Computing At School Primary Guidance, Technology Enhanced Learning (Pages 20)

Technology is learning, SAMR Model
(Primary and Secondary)

Hippasus, SAMR in the classroom
(Primary and Secondary)

Mark Anderson, Beginners guide to SAMR
(Primary and Secondary)

Innovate My School, Cloud-Based Learning and Online learning (pages 54 to 75)
(Primary and Secondary)

Innovate My School, Interactive Technologies (pages 98 to 105)
(Primary and Secondary)

Alan Mackenzie, A free online safety guide
(Primary and Secondary)

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Innovate My School, BYOD Bring Your Own Device (pages 22 to 31)
(Primary and Secondary)

(Primary and Secondary)

Secure Network
(Primary and Secondary)

Insight On
(Primary and Secondary)