e-Learning facilitator, Ross Alexander explains the importance of having a clear vision for introducing new technologies. It is important to have somebody driving the use of digital technologies in learning from within the school. A key part of that is to have a really clear vision, a vision that can be articulated by the Principal, the teachers, the students and the wider school community. It’s important for everybody to be able to understand what the possibilities are with digital technologies in terms of reaching the vision. The e-Learning Planning Framework is a valuable way to scaffold understanding about what’s necessary to move forward.
There are several key things that I think it is important to reflect on. Firstly it’s the importance of leadership and strategic planning. It’s so important for the schools to have somebody who is driving the use of digital technologies in learning from within the school. A key part of that is to have a really clear vision, a vision that can be articulated by the Principal, the teachers, the students and the wider school community. It’s also important for everybody to be able to understand what the possibilities are with digital technologies in terms of reaching forward towards that vision. As the schools have begun this journey it can be quite daunting for them. That’s where the e-Learning Planning Framework has proved to be such a valuable way to scaffold their understanding about what’s necessary as they’ve moved forward. The e-Learning Planning Framework as well has the dimension looking at teaching and learning, and it’s so important for the school to understand that for change to happen, for e-learning or for the use of digital technologies to be effective, it’s so important for teachers and principals to reflect on the teaching and learning that’s happening, and how that teaching and learning needs to change to make the most of those tools. Now those five dimensions of the e-Learning Planning Framework are all interwoven. It was also important to consider where the teachers and the schools were at. So we began with what was familiar to them, and of course for them it’s a New Zealand Curriculum statement, particularly the vision of the New Zealand Curriculum - confident, connected, actively involved, life-long learners. It’s worthwhile then spending some time with the schools actually unpacking what does that look like in terms of 21st Century learning, in terms of using digital technologies. Teaching as inquiry was a very important part of what we did. It gave the teachers the mandate to have a go, to explore, to see what worked, to see what other schools have done. And finally, there are some other small things that I keep coming back to. Firstly, it’s to always focus on the why, not the what. Why use a particular piece of digital technology, not what digital technology should I use. It’s also important to always focus on student achievement, not just engagement because we know that students will become engaged with a whole range of digital technologies, but as teachers it is important for us to focus on the student achievement. It’s also important to consider how teachers are able to work smarter themselves, how they can work more efficiently and save time. And finally, it takes time. It takes time for teachers to explore, to experiment. It takes time for students as well to become familiar with the technologies, and to explore, and to play.