“Self-evaluation should be a useful process that is rigorous and enables you to be critically reflective about yourself as a professional and your practice.” (GTCS, n.d., n.p.)
As the Digital Technologies module comes to an end, it’s time to look back and evaluate my progress over the last few months. I will reflect on how my understanding of the uses and value of technology in education has improved, along with a broader consideration of my development as a future teacher.
Rereading my first blog entry, I’m surprised by the vagueness of my goals. I had hoped to learn how best to use my already reasonably up-to-date tech skills to enhance learning in a primary setting. A rather general aim but a valid one nonetheless, and I would say I’m feeling considerably more informed and confident in this area.
I learned about – and more importantly had a chance to play with – several programs and devices that were entirely new to me. Bee-Bot and ScratchJr, both engaging and user-friendly introductions to the world of coding, should find a place in any classroom. While I’d certainly heard of Minecraft, I had no idea there was an Education Edition or realised it could be used to support learning across so many curricular areas. ActivInspire remains a clunky disappointment but from that input came a deeper appreciation for the power of multimodal learning. Also, for what it’s worth, now that I’m aware of ActivInspire’s interface shortcomings, I can devote an appropriate amount of time getting used to it – which is another positive. I was introduced to more new software with Puppet Pals and iStopMotion and, not being overly impressed with either, I investigated alternative solutions which I felt delivered a better, more satisfying experience.
It was also gratifying to see that certain past and present hobbies of mine, such as filmmaking and animation, have a place in the modern classroom. This was a particularly exciting discovery and I have already started to think about new activities in which both of these crafts can enhance learning.
Without question, one of the most useful aspects of this module was completely unexpected: the requirement that the activities we were devising had to link to specific Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes. In truth, prior to these tasks, I had only a loose understanding of how the curriculum was structured so being guided towards deeper engagement with its principles of design and experience and outcomes was incredibly instructive.
Consequently, I have a greater understanding of how the various curriculum areas link together – and the importance of such links – and a clearer sense of how the curriculum reflects the Scottish government’s education strategy. All vitally important knowledge moving forward.
This was also my first significant experience of creating teaching activities. Some were more successful than others, but that too is all part of the learning process. I feel I now have a solid foundation on which to build towards BA2 and beyond.
Additional Support for Learning
Probably the most meaningful personal development was the realisation that I had been overlooking the use of digital technology in ASL education. I’ve always regarded myself as a firm believer in inclusive education and a proponent of fairness and diversity in all areas of life, but somehow I was still habitually evaluating technology from the perspective of, frankly, someone just like me. After realising this, I strived to be more mindful of the perspectives of all learners and I believe this is reflected in subsequent blog entries.
I believe ASL education may see something of a revolution in the coming years thanks to cutting-edge technologies such as augmented reality (Majumdar, 2016) and this is now an area of particular interest to me and one I will watch closely.
Funding, training, and the attainment gap
It was interesting to consider the availability of digital technology in schools, particularly as I began to understand the degree to which the Scottish government believes such resources are one of the key factors in closing the attainment gap.
Almost every week would bring the stark conclusion that there was little a teacher could do to deliver technology-based lessons and all the associated benefits if the resources simply weren’t available. With spending in Scottish schools falling by over £400m in the last decade (Macnab, 2018), this is an issue that may face teachers for some years to come.
I’ve also come to realise how it’s incumbent on us as educators to keep our technology skills current and that we need to be aware of – and aware how to use – any new devices, apps or services which may benefit learners. As the Scottish Government indicates: “Simply providing more technology does not result in improved outcomes for learners” (Scottish Government, 2019, p.4). In other words, a teacher must themselves have the confidence and skills to harness technology as effectively as possibly in the classroom.
Overall, Digital Technologies has been an informative and inspiring experience, with an abundance of practical advice and suggestions. I believe I have a clearer understanding of the application of technology in education and how it can be used to meaningfully enhance learning. I also recognise the importance of government policy and resource availability when planning digital technology-based activities.
What isn’t covered above is just how fun the module has been. Perfectly capturing the first principle of curriculum design – “challenge and enjoyment” (Education Scotland, 2019, n.p.) – the last twelve weeks have been a thoroughly challenging and enjoyable experience. That fun and learning have gone so closely hand in hand is not lost on me and I will be taking this lesson forward, among countless others from this module, as I continue my development as a future educator.
Education Scotland (2019) What is Curriculum for Excellence? [Online] Available: https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/What%20is%20Curriculum%20for%20Excellence? [Accessed: 7 April 2019].
GTCS (n.d.) What is self-evaluation? [Online] Available: https://www.gtcs.org.uk/professional-standards/what-is-self-evaluation.aspx [Accessed: 5 April 2019].
Macnab, S. (2018) Spending on Scots schools falls by £400m in a decade. The Scotsman. [Online] 6 August, non-paginated. Available: https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/spending-on-scots-schools-falls-by-400m-in-a-decade-1-4779195 [Accessed: 7 April 2019].
Majumdar, A (2016) Utilizing Augmented Reality For Special Needs Learning. [Online] Available: https://elearningindustry.com/augmented-reality-for-special-needs-learning [Accessed: 7 April 2019].
Scottish Government (2019) Pupil Equity Funding – National Operational Guidance – 2019. [Online] Available: https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/advice-and-guidance/2019/02/pupil-equity-funding-national-operational-guidance-2019/documents/pupil-equity-funding—national-operational-guidance-2019/pupil-equity-funding—national-operational-guidance-2019/govscot%3Adocument [Accessed: 7 April 2019].