This conference aimed to bring together professionals and key stakeholders from education, industry and Government to discuss how Scotland creates the right foundations on which to develop ICT and digital skills. The growth of the digital and ICT industry has been realised for decades and is not set to slow down.  It is argued that schools and colleges need to nurture and evolve the skills to meet the current and future demands of industry. The conference looked at the skills investment plan which was launched to address this.

I heard from several speakers and I also had the opportunity to network with old friends and colleagues. Funny how the same faces turn out to these events…

A number of things occurred to me:

  • Schools tend to work in multi-disciplinary ways when we actually need interdisciplinary learning around education, technology and society. Primary schools approach technologies as project based learning opportunities and the skills developed by this process must begin in the early years. By the time a learner reaches the latter stages of the broad general education, it is too late to embed the lifelong digital skills needed to communicate, search and share online.
  • The transition between the broad general education and the senior phase is important. This is where the big decisions need to be made regarding career pathways and discipline specific digital and ICT skills.
  • We need to do more, to encourage widening access and participation into higher education so that we can articulate highly skilled graduates with workforce planning. This includes industry access and teachers entering the profession.
  • The systems level change required within education is two fold: a curriculum shift which places more emphasis onto computer science, digital and online skills and the responsibility of all teachers is just as inherent as literacy, numeracy and health and well-being. At present, it appears to be inconsistent, ad-hoc and bolt-on across Scotland. There is also a requirement to create a cultural shift which sees Scotland up-skilling and educating teachers (career long professional learning), though I recognise that this is challenging (see my previous post on digital skills).
  • We need to embed this new culture of computational thinking into initial teacher education, both at undergraduate primary and secondary levels and also at postgraduate level.
  • There are significant issues of technological equity within schools and their online environs – to include access to technology, the agency between teacher and student (which encourages and allows skills development and creativity) and policies on bring your own device, privacy, security and web-filtering.
  • Additional work is required to address the learning experience – those nodes of learning at home and within the community tend to be more rewarding, exciting and socially based than what we offer in schools. For example, where within schools, do we have room to educate our children and young people on the safe and appropriate use of social networking and online media?

This all said, I do believe that we have an excellent opportunity to address these issues through the national digital forums and local discussion groups which have been established throughout the country. I am due to attend an Education Scotland event on Friday to look at the Technologies curriculum area (and the Technologies Impact Review). I am sure that this will include an extension to the conversations seen as a result of this conference.


Posted by Lee Dunn

Academic Staff University of Glasgow and Author of Science Fiction