Over the last few years my passion for digital innovation may have made some people think that it was all about the technology.

This is far from the case

In my quest to look at how technology can work in schools, it has always been deeply rooted in teaching and learning. Others have made it much more eloquent and have linked it to educational research but I try to keep it simple.

New technologies enhance teaching and learning. Fact!

When implementing any change in my classroom the impact on students is always at the heart of anything I do. This is critical as it is not about my passion for using digital tech but about how it can inspire students to learn in their own way. To engage them in the curriculum and to ensure they want to continue learning outside the classroom.

Lots of schools have implemented 1:1 programmes and not necessarily thought about the teaching and learning that goes with it. Examples of GREAT practice can be seen @chepstowschool and @clevedonschool, both have the Teaching and Learning at the heart of what they do and I am sure there are many others in this same mould.

Why is this important?

Simply because students need to see that these changes in approach are being done to support them, staff need to buy in to something that shows that it makes a difference and parents need to see that it is not just a gimmick.

I spent today at the Frog conference, I am openly a sceptic about VLE’s as they were introduced poorly to me so I had no buy in. I did see today that they had huge potential, in the right context, if managed correctly and if left to be used as teachers feel it helps them. More than that though I saw today that if you start with teaching and learning and then use the tech to enhance it, then it is harder to resist.

I feel at times that I get seen as ‘the guy who wants us all to have iPads’ though this is mostly true, the reason behind why I want them is not always seen.

As a student myself I questioned the relevance of why I was learning certain things. Students today do that all the time. Yet do we always give them a legitimate reason? Passing an exam by the way is not good enough. I try to teach students in a way that they can see why they need to know it. Co constructing learning to create links to the real world outside the classroom. This is what I endeavour to pass on to staff in school. That getting students engaged in the learning, by bringing THEIR world into the classroom, will ultimately result in them progressing further. It is not enough to just teach the curriculum, it will not inspire every student. Teach it in a way that engages them, allows creativity and speaks their language and see the difference it makes.

This is where the tech comes in.

To create a world class educational experience the technology allows the teaching and learning strategies to be enhanced and enriched, giving learners a choice of ways to create learning, to demonstrate knowledge and a greater audience than just their teacher.

In my classroom I use technology to help students progress by giving feedback that can be accessed online to help at home, I give access to reading, videos and audio for students to review and reflect on in their own time. I create opportunities for students to be creative with their presentation of knowledge, in a way that suits their learning choices. I give them a broader audience through the use of blogs or creating apps. Basically I try to move my teaching to meet their needs and to bring their world into school.

Examples include
Making apps
Podcasting
Creating videos
Blogging
Video analysis
Creating ebooks

In conclusion, to enhance teaching and learning and to engage students, digital technology can be used as a tool to help achieve it. Whatever way you choose to make a difference, think about your context, consult the students, inspire the staff and make things relevant, but remember

Do nothing, convince yourself that no change is needed, and the danger is that things will stagnate.

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