Preparing Pupils for their Future
Technology is now an integral part of life, from how we communicate and connect with others, to how we collaborate, share and plan. Every job is now a technology job, from farming to medicine, law to politics. The importance of giving young people the opportunity to develop strong digital skills cannot be overstated.
Technology, in some shape or form, has been an established tool for teaching and learning in many schools for a long time, but in the last few years digital education has taken a significant step forward. We have reached a watershed moment in the maturity of portable devices and wireless infrastructure; technology is now reliable, fast and easier to use than ever before. The ubiquity of mobile devices and internet connectivity is driving real change in the way people learn, work, communicate and live their lives. What is even more important, however, is that technology is now well placed to enhance teaching and learning and create learning environments which promote analytical skills, emotional intelligence, teamwork, adaptability, creative thinking, problem-solving, and global citizenship.
As a tool in the schoolroom, our provision of an iPad for every pupil offers opportunities to engage them, as well as enhance and deepen their learning. Furthermore, it provides new ways for them to develop key skills through digital learning platforms, tools, apps, and content.
The iPad has led to better note taking and feedback, as well as more collaborative exercises.C Block pupil, CIRL survey
iPads are used extensively to facilitate diverse learning activities, including note-taking and resource sharing, quizzing, as well as collaborative and creative tasks. The classroom management tools enable Masters to monitor pupils’ progress as well as lock their focus on a particular task.
increase in effectiveness of timely and personalised feedback by using new technology.
Today’s learners access, receive and create content in a variety of formats. By providing them with a school iPad, we are ensuring that they are able to move efficiently between these differing media. It may be, for example, that during the course of a lesson a Master shares PDF documents to be annotated, supporting video resources and links to useful web pages. They may then wish pupils to demonstrate their understanding by connecting to an online quiz before moving to draft an essay in a more traditional – pen and paper – mode.
This blending of new digital learning possibilities with tried and tested educational methods was key to our choice of device, as the iPad can present a much less obvious presence in the schoolroom; the tablet format being a far less dominant addition to desk space than a laptop. Its reliability and ease-of-use were also key factors in our decision.
We aim to ensure that every pupil is computer literate and able to use technology to enhance his learning across the school curriculum. Digital education lessons take place during the first year and cover a variety of practical technology skills including the use of Eton’s email and online learning systems, the Microsoft Office suite, as well as how to use digital platforms to work collaboratively and creatively. We also provide an introduction to programming. For those pupils keen to expand their knowledge and skill set, we offer computer science GCSE and A Level.
The school should be commended for taking such a forward-looking step and implementing a unified technological approach for teaching and learning across the school.Aakash, C Block pupil, CIRL Journal Article, June 2019
Since it opened in 2015, the Tony Little Centre for Innovation and Research in Learning has played a key role as a hub to bring together various groups investigating forms of educational technology and measuring their impact. Pupils have played a joint role in researching and exploring the benefits of technology use in their learning to inform our digital education strategy.
The Future of Learning
There is little doubt that developments in areas such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, 3D printing, and virtual/augmented reality will have a profound impact on education in the years ahead. While being sure to retain all that experience shows us works in the schoolroom, we continue to explore the latest technologies to enhance the teaching and learning experience, as well as ensure our pupils have the skills and experience needed to thrive in the 21st Century.