Are schools able to develop and nurture the required digital skills that our young people need?


Normally, I blog retrospectively, reflecting on events, papers or aspects of teaching. Given that 2014 is drawing towards an end (I have now seen my first Christmas tree in someone’s front room!) and that December promises to be as busy as ever, I thought that I’d look forward instead.

I have two conferences in my diary this coming month. The first is a national conference on Digital and ICT Skills in Scottish Education: The Skills investment plan & Tackling the Digital & ICT Skills Gap and the second is an Education Scotland discussion event on Technologies.

Are schools able to develop and nurture the required digital skills that our young people need? In short, the answer should be yes, but in reality we still have some way to go. We are in the midst of global digital evolution and new and emerging technologies demand new knowledge and skills which prepare our children and young people for lifelong learning and work. In addition to this, I firmly believe that there is a need to address issues of technological equity within schools and their online environs. I wrote a guest blog for Edudemic almost exactly two years ago on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) within schools. At the same time, I was quoted in the Herald newspaper under the auspices of schools, wifi and open access to online nodes of learning. I still believe that schools often act as barriers to learning in this respect – and there are many reasons which need to be fully explored.

In honesty, school policies on BOYD may have been designed and developed in the last 24 months, but the deep rooted issues, I suspect, remain the same. It will be interesting to see how this aspect is picked up at these events – in particular during the first national conference. It’s easy to focus on the skills requirements BUT we need to pin down the infrastructure, access and purposes behind the technology BEFORE we can design and implement any such framework. In addition, there is a significant assumption here that the teaching profession (generally speaking that is!) is capable of delivering such a framework. Through initial teacher education and career long professional learning, the profession may require up-skilling so that interdisciplinary, digital participation becomes less taboo and more do – social media and online networking being one such example. There are also implications on resource, time management (teachers are very busy people) and measuring the long term impact. This is exactly why we need to integrate skills development into everyday practice, otherwise it becomes a ‘bolt-on’ which is flimsy, inconsistent and weak. Instead, most of the learning will take place independently at home via social gaming, networking and entertainment.

I’ll write up my thoughts on this over the coming months whilst eluding to my own research on this theme. Watch this space!


Academic Staff University of Glasgow and Author of Science Fiction

Posted in Conferences

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