Saturday, 31 March 2012

Find it, make it, use it, share it: Learning in Digital Wales Report

On Thursday I attended the launch of a report from the Digital Classroom Teaching Task and Finish Group at The Senedd in Cardiff. Entitled "Find it, make it, use it, share it: learning in digital Wales" the group's report set out what they think Welsh Government and many others should do to introduce, embed and promote the use of digital technologies to enhance teaching and learning. The group was set up by the Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills, as an external task and finish group to consider which digital classroom delivery aspects should be adopted to transform learning and teaching for those aged 3 - 19.

Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills

In particular the group was asked to consider:
  • how high-quality, accessible digital classroom content could be developed;
  • how National Grid for Learning (NGfL) Cymru was used, and whether there was a more effective way to deliver its aims;
  • whether and how a cloud-based content delivery system (e.g. the 'iTunes University' model); would work alongside a virtual learning environment (VLE) for Wales; 
  • how high-quality English and Welsh language content could be generated;
  • how to develop Welsh intellectual property which can be used to deliver digital teaching content; and
  • how teachers might get the digital teaching skills to use ICT to transform schools.

I personally believe this is a very exciting document for all involved in education in Wales. Overall there are 10 headline recommendations which if implemented by the Welsh Government I believe will move technology for learning and teaching in Wales into the 21st century. Recommendations are made throughout the document, some of the highlights for me include:

  • the teaching of digital competencies and applications in initial teacher training, postgraduate and other programmes and in continuing professional development
  • encouraging teachers to become members of professional bodies such as NAACE or ALT
  • using a variety of means to encourage teachers to support one another and share good practice, including an annual Welsh Digital Learning and Teaching Conference

Why am I particularly interested in these? Well I guess it's because being a school improvement ICT advisor most of my time is spent with teachers, developing their confidence and skills in effectively utilising technologies in the classroom and across the school. Any recommendations to government that include agreeing on ICT competencies in both new teachers to the professions AND existing teachers and senior management has my backing completely. I'm also very interested in how we can encourage teachers to support one another and share good practice. Our online ICT professional network network area has attempted to do this for several years with varying success. Looking ahead our intention is to have online tools at the centre of the new IAS (Integrated Achievement Service) in SE Wales that will allow for active collaboration, sharing of practice, discussion in a social environment. The challenge is in encouraging the majority teachers to engage in this type of 'social learning'. I like a challenge!  

For further information and comment have a look at these websites:

Merlin John Online - 'Hwyl' and 'Hwb' digital plan goes to the Welsh Assembly
BBC Wales - Digital learning system for Wales recommended by review
Welsh Government - Independent Review of Digital Classroom Teaching Task and Finish Group
Welsh Government - Video Case Studies
NUT - Comment on the Digital Classroom Report
Wales Online - Facebook and Twitter should be used in schools as learning tools, says new report


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