Category: Reflecting

Technology Education: Do we have a PR crisis?

It has been a long-standing commentary that resides with teachers around the country, that technology education suffers at the hands of science and mathematics. I have heard many jokes since I began my teaching career in 1997, as a student aged 18. Isn’t it sad, that twenty years later, we are no further forwards? Most would probably argue that we have actually slipped backwards, and there is sufficient evidence to suggest that they may be correct. We know that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) education is an international priority. Humanity is seeking to explore its potential through new, exciting and emerging technologies, yet it is more often than not, that the ‘T’ and the ‘E’ is missed out from STEM. Much of the focus sits on science and with initiatives such as the Scottish Attainment Challenge; it now also sits with Maths.

If you teach Technology Education and you’re reading this, my next statement will resonate deeply with you. The majority of people outwith our subject discipline do not understand what we do. There are many misconceptions that we simply chop up bits of wood, play with metal, draw pretty pictures and use computers to generate portfolios. They are, of course, correct in many respects, but this perception is superficial and does not penetrate the domain level knowledge that we transfer through multi and interdisciplinary learning experiences, nor does it fully interrogate the range of skills that permeate everything that we do.

Over the last 12 months, I have seen many instances where STEM has not been presented accurately. If the people mean science, why not just call it so? The attractive, political advantage of referring to STEM sounds grand, but it does not fool me. It should not fool you, either. Much of the education system (including the constituent parts within Government) need to get their act together. If I had my way, I would refer to it as TEMS, where Technology and Engineering becomes priority and Science takes a back seat for once. Or at least, there is real parity between them. It is even more frustrating when I go around the country; to see that primary teaching colleagues (I am careful here – not all are included in this category for many are excellent!) tell me that their Technologies curriculum is based on making a Powerpoint and using a digital device. That is not acceptable. Something is broken and all aspects of the education system need to consider fair and equitable representation of the national curriculum. We are, I suggest, doing our kids an injustice.

These issues are also apparent internationally. A valued colleague recently attended a presentation by Dr Mark Sanders of Virginia Tech, who was discussing a history of Technology Education in the United States. Mark is a proponent of Integrative STEM Education where the ‘T’ and ‘E’ form the central contexts for learning, in which pupils purposefully learn about relevant science and maths. Whilst my colleague found this interesting (taking his notes) one statement stuck with him, which he later shared with my students. Mark said that technology education in the US suffered from a serious lack of ability in effective PR. He went on to cite the Maker Movement as something that is attracting far more attention, federal funding and support. It is being spoken about as a new frontier, combining learning and making things is the new way forward. Since then, I have been far more aware of this type of discourse. In an article, read on the train on the way to campus, I read about the introduction of a maker space into the classroom and the piece began by effectively asking the following question (this next bit is paraphrased): ‘Can you imagine the possibilities we could get by combining DIY [Do It Yourself] with education?!!’. Another LinkinED in post said that STEM offered fantastic learning potential for pupils to actually make things.

Interestingly, some schools around the world have now adopted this title for their workshops and studios, for example the Makerspace in Robert Thirsk High School, Calgary. Check out the text below from their website. Sound familiar?

“Keith Christensen, CTS Learning Leader, and Scott Blenkhorne, Technology Learning Leader, have been working hard to create an inviting active learning space with an amazing variety of tools and equipment. Highlights include a plotter printer, 3D printer, laser cutter, vinyl cutter, a sewing machine, robotic kits, Arduino microcontrollers, and Raspberry Pi kits.”

I have discussed this at length with some of you and we believe that people are blissfully unaware of the fact that this already happens in schools. Politicians cite the importance of meeting the future skills required for emerging industries, yet our national courses are often omitted from further and higher education entry requirements and in some instances, completely misrepresented. It would seem then, that Dr Sanders is correct and that the growing PR crisis around our subject area also exists here in Scotland.

To conclude, I want to leave you with a few questions for your reflection.

  • Do you agree with my concerns?
  • Why is the maker movement receiving such attention, funding and support while Technology Education does not?
  • When the subjects/national qualifications were re-developed as part of Curriculum for Excellence, did we do this correctly?
  • What is problematic about the advertising slogan: ‘Design and Technology: The Maker Subject?’ What branding do you think we need to apply to our discipline? Do we need a brand?
  • How can we address this PR crisis? What actions need to be taken and by whom?

Thanks to my colleague, Dr Morrison-Love [University of Glasgow] for the usual, inspiring pep talk over coffee, that resulted in this post!

Annual Survey Of The Use Of Digital Technology / Glow

Education Scotland carries out an annual survey of school staff and pupils to find out more about their use of digital technology in general and Glow in particular. This has been run most years in the last decade and it provides useful information which influences what the programme team within Education Scotland do throughout the year to meet the needs of Scotland’s staff and pupils. They survey is anonymous and no personal data is sought.

Last year 1,009 staff and 1,238 pupils completed the survey, below you will see a summary of the responses received. You can access the survey here.

2016 Survey Highlights

  • Staff report a high level of confidence in their use of digital technology (82% quite or very confident)
  • 87% of staff use digital technology in the classroom at least 2 to 4 times a week
  • 76% of staff report that digital technology has had either a very significant or notable positive impact on learning and teaching in the classroom
  • 67% of staff respondents use Glow at least 2 to 4 times a week.
  • 10% of respondents have never used Glow.
  • Biggest barrier for use of digital technology is slow internet access at school (55%), other issues also given include lack of time and lack of IT resource
  • 75% of respondents who use Glow believe it has a positive impact on their learning and teaching
  • Staff are satisfied with the tools provided within Glow – RM Unify and Microsoft O365 provide the highest satisfaction, Glow Wikis the least.
  • 56% of staff use Glow for whole class teaching although 26% of respondents do not use Glow with pupils.
  • 90% of pupils are either quite or very confident in their use of digital technology
  • 91% of pupils use the internet whilst at school
  • 44% use Glow every week, 5% use it every day
  • 86% of pupils use digital technology to help with their work outside of school.

Government and industry recognise and celebrate #DigitalSchools

Today (22nd February), 21 primary schools in Scotland have gained national ‘Digital School’ status for excellence in digital technology in teaching and learning. I had the pleasure of attending this event as a Programme Validator for the Digital Schools Awards. The schools were officially awarded the honour of being recognised as the first digital schools in Scotland by the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, at a ceremony held at Wormit Primary School.

Recognised by Education Scotland, the Digital Schools Award is designed to promote, encourage and reward schools that make the best use of digital technology in the classroom.   HP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Intel are providing support to the programme, including a financial commitment of £110,000 in the first year as well as the provision of practical support and resources.

Schools that receive ‘Digital School’ status will demonstrate, among other things, the presence of a whole school digital strategy, evidence of how digital technology is being used to enhance learning and a commitment to ongoing professional learning for teachers. The programme has already highlighted some very innovative and collaborative approaches from schools and teachers regarding the integration of digital technology in teaching and learning, which will be an inspiration to other schools.

One in nine primary schools in Scotland, some 195 schools, have signed up to become a Digital School since the launch of the programme in September 2016. The programme aims to sign up 400 primary schools in Scotland to participate in its first full year.

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Speaking about the awards programme Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, said: ‘Digital skills are an integral part of our everyday lives, and as such it is absolutely essential that we give young people the opportunities to understand and use them properly. The Digital Schools Awards Programme is a fantastic example of industry supporting education in Scotland and helping ensure our young people develop the skills and opportunities to flourish.

Alan Armstrong, Strategic Director at Education Scotland said, ‘The Digital Schools Awards Programme is a very valuable approach to embedding digital learning in primary schools. It fully supports and promotes the vision set out in the Government’s Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. I am delighted to see these first set of awards being presented and the number of schools registering for the programme continuing to grow. I encourage all primary schools in Scotland who have not yet done so, to sign up to the programme.’

Neil Sawyer, Education Director at HP commented: ‘HP believes that the technology sector has a responsibility to support schools and ensure that the next generation is equipped with the knowledge needed to close the STEM and creative skills gap, and drive the economy of tomorrow. Being recognised as a Digital School is a great achievement and an important milestone. We congratulate the 21 schools receiving awards today.’

 Scotland performs very well in terms of integrating technology in the curriculum’, said Jane Grey, Sales Leader at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Scotland. We are proud to be part of the Digital Schools Awards initiative which is making a practical contribution to helping schools make the most of their digital capabilities. I would encourage more schools to sign up to the programme to take advantage of the comprehensive supports and expertise on offer.’

The newly awarded ‘Digital Schools’ are:

  • Bathgate Early Years Centre
  • Beith Primary School
  • Blackfriars Primary School
  • Bonhill Primary School
  • Calside Primary School
  • Dalry Primary School
  • Echt School
  • Kelvinside Academy
  • Kildrum Primary School
  • Kingswells Primary School
  • Kinlochleven Primary School
  • Kirkton Of Largo Primary School
  • Lundavra Primary School
  • Mearns Primary School
  • Netherlee Primary School
  • Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral Primary School
  • Rosebank Primary School
  • The Compass School
  • The Edinburgh Academy Junior School
  • Whitehirst Primary School
  • Wormit Primary School

Connect with me at #BETT2017 (Digital Schools Awards) @HP Stand (D200)

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SPEAKING AT BETT, LONDON 25 AND 26 JANUARY 2017 (11AM) STAND D200

On 25th and 26th January, I will be speaking at BETT in London, about the Digital Schools Awards. BETT is the world’s leading education technology event celebrated in the UK every year and attended by over 45,000 people.

The Award is an industry leading award and public private partnership programme, supported by HP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Microsoft and Intel. Schools that successfully complete the programme receive a nationally recognised digital schools award. Here in Scotland, this is accredited by Education Scotland.

If you would like to know more about the Award, register your interest in attending my presentation through the DSA website; also speaking on 27th and 28th will be my colleague and fellow Programme Validator, Dr Victor McNair. You will find us around the event, but based from stand D200 (with HP) by appointment.

I hope to see some of you there and I’m looking forward to writing up some thoughts about BETT, over the course of the event.

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Embrace The Technology: My article on Digital Culture in GTCS Teaching Scotland Magazine Issue 67

Digital Learning and Teaching is The Responsibility For All

My article on digital technology as a responsibility for all teachers, has now been published in Teaching Scotland magazine. The article explores the culture of learning and teaching through the use of digital technologies, making a few recommendations on how we can better integrate this important aspect of the curriculum into our schools. You can access the article via the General Teaching Council Scotland website or directly from this post by clicking the image below.

Dunn, L. (2017) Embrace The Technology: Digital learning and teaching is the responsibility for all in Teaching Scotland, issue 67. pp18-19. General Teaching Council Scotland.

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Impact of Digital Technology on Learning and Teaching #digilearnscot

This literature review was commissioned by the Scottish Government to explore how the use of digital technology for learning and teaching can support teachers, parents, children and young people in improving outcomes and achieving these ambitions.

This study is designed to help inform the development of a strategy for digital learning and teaching by providing evidence of how and why digital learning and teaching can benefit learners, teachers and schools. It also aims to identify the conditions that lead to its successful implementation and any differences between primary and secondary settings. In particular it focuses on how digital technologies can support and contribute to five specific educational priorities: raising attainment, tackling inequalities and promoting inclusion, improving transitions into employment, enhancing parental engagement, and improving the efficiency of the education system.

A literature search was undertaken, collecting nearly 1,000 items from academic, governmental and professional sources. These were reviewed to determine their thematic relevance and the strength of the evidence they presented. The most useful were then collated and assessed to:

  • Identify evidence of relationships between digital learning and teaching activities and the expected outputs, outcomes and impacts;
  • Show the relationships that exist between the digital learning and teaching activities and the outputs, outcomes and impacts for different beneficiaries (learners, parents, teachers, and the school); and
  • Identify which outcomes are immediate, medium-term and long-term.The key findings of the research are presented below, separated into the key thematic areas which were examined during the review. In the cases where studies of similar digital equipment, tools and resources have been systematically reviewed or where there is a large body of evidence from different studies which have measured change (from quantitative studies using counterfactuals and testing learners before and after), it is possible to state there is conclusive evidence. In other cases where the evidence base is weaker (mainly qualitative studies drawing on relatively small samples of learners and schools), it is only possible to state that there is indicative evidence or (where few cases) promising evidence.

More effective use of digital teaching to raise attainment happens when teachers are able to identify how digital tools and resources can be used to achieve improved learning outcomes, as well as having knowledge and understanding of the technology. This applies in all schools.

Where learners use digital learning at home as well as school for formal and non-formal learning activities these have positive effects on their attainment. This is due to the extension of their learning time. This is particularly important for secondary age learners.

There is indicative evidence that the use of digital tools and resources can help to reduce gaps in subject attainment when they are effectively implemented. There is promising evidence that the use of digital equipment and resources can help learners with additional support needs to improve their skills and competences in literacy and numeracy.

Teachers’ skills and competences in recognising how to use digital tools and resources and applying them effectively are critical to achieving positive results for learners with additional support needs or who are disdvantaged in other ways.

There is promising evidence that digital tools can, where effectively used, build skills in interactivity and collaboration, critical thinking and leadership for secondary age learners. These are considered to be vital skills by employers. There is promising evidence too that for secondary age learners, digital resources coupled with digital tools can increase knowledge and understanding of career pathways, applying for work, and working environments. These resources can make it easier for employers to provide help and support to learners.

In addition to the skills that teachers require to harness digital tools and resources to build learners’ employability skills, it is evident that they need to be prepared to develop learner-centred learning approaches. Support for learners to access digital equipment outside the classroom is also important.

There is promising evidence that using digital equipment and tools for direct communication with parents can improve learners’ and parents’ cooperation with requests from teachers about attendance, behaviour and support for learning.

Teachers are more likely to do this once they are more competent in using digital equipment and tools, and once schools use digital tools such as virtual learning environments to facilitate communication with parents.

There is promising evidence that teachers’ efficiency can be increased by using digital equipment and resources to prepare for teaching. There is similarly some qualitative evidence that digital tools and resources enable teachers to do their job better in relation to teaching, assessment and their own on-the-job learning and development.

While many studies clearly focus on specific learners in terms of age, settings (primary, secondary, special education) and domestic circumstances, none make any comparisons between the impact of digital technologies on educational priorities for different age groups. As a consequence, it has not been possible to identify any differences in the use and impact of digital technology in primary and secondary school settings. However, it is generally the case that the impacts found apply relatively equally to primary and secondary school learners.

Successful utilisation of digital technology depends not just upon sufficient access to equipment, tools and resources, but also on the availability of sufficient training, and knowledge and support networks for teachers. Providing teachers with this support will allow them to understand the benefits and applications of digital technologies and enable them to use digital technologies effectively.

Full text (sourced here): Scottish Government Publication

#UofG Students to facilitate workshop at the 2015 STTA Conference

The 2015 Scottish Technology Teacher’s Association Annual Conference will be held in Glasgow on Saturday 7th November 2015. The workshop programme will consist of activities based on the new Design & Technology curriculum and N4/5 courses. I am delighted to announce that a group of BTechEd (Hons) students will facilitate a workshop at the conference.

All teachers of craft, design, engineering and technology (including student teachers) are invited to attend.

Planned highlights to include:

  • Conference Keynote Speaker Dr Diane Aston from The Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining talks materials.
  • Full Exhibition of Educational suppliers of technology equipment & support resources.
  • An opportunity to meet colleagues from throughout Scotland.
  • Prizes awarded to the winners of the TTA Competitions.
  • Workshops detailed below
  • Full hospitality including tea and coffee on arrival and lunch.

Bob Baldie will return to the TTA Conference this year with a special workshop on wood turning with Peter Fordyce.

James Bleach is the creator of JAMBLE D&T Resource website and will be giving a workshop on how to create effective D&T resources.

Scott Hunter has returned following a highly successful workshop at last years conference. This year the focus is Manual Graphics.

Lynsey McNamee follows last year’s success with another workshop for TeachMeet, an opportunity to see what others have been doing and ask questions.

Our Keynote Speaker has also agreed to do a workshop. There was a lot of positive feedback from attendees last year about her amazing Smart Materials session last year and she has kindly agreed to do so again.

Students at The University of Glasgow BTechEd are doing an interesting workshop on Engineering Systems and Robotics and how to effectively use it in the classroom. A great opportunity to meet the new Technology teachers and learn something new.

Following feedback last year about the effective use of Inventor and desktop publishing in the New Graphics courses, Alan Delany will be doing two workshops: one on Inventor and one on the Serif suite.

Further details and booking via: Scottish TTA

Global Collaboration Day #VET

Please see the post below for details. This was sent via the UNESCO-UNEVOC TVET Experts Forum. I decided to share as it may be of interest to some of you.

Dear Colleagues,

It is my pleasure to share with you the launch of the Global Collaboration Day. Over the next couple of days, students, classrooms, teachers, administrators, parents and organizations will be either attending and/or hosting events online that are designed to showcase and promote global collaboration. Over 100 groups have designed and planned their own events which we have then organized into a directory and in special calendars to allow these events to be seen in any time zone in the world.

This is a huge worldwide experiment to demonstrate the power of globally-connected learning.

You are encouraged to browse the event directory or the calendar and choose a compelling event to attend!

Here are some important links for you to keep handy:

We have scheduled an event to contribute to this effort:

http://www.globalcollaborationday.org/event-directory/cognitive-skills-enhancement

Warmest regards to All!

Chris Chinien, Ph.D.

President,

Compétences/Skills R&D Inc.