Digital Technologies | 9.1.18

What Is Digital Technology?

Before beginning this class, I thought of digital technology to be solely computers, phones & iPads/tablets. This class has opened my eyes to the idea of digital technologies as so much more than that: programmable toys such as the BeeBots, game design, coding, movie making to name a few. I have also learned that ‘digital technology’ is a term used to describe those digital applications, services and resources that are used to find, analyse, create, communicate and use information in a digital context (Education Scotland, 2015). I have also gained an understanding of what it means to be digitally literate: to be competent in how to use digital technologies effectively and to their full potential. This is something I am keen to improve on over the course of this module. I hope to see an improvement in my digital literacy at the end of this trimester.

I have also found learning about who digital technologies affects thoroughly interesting. At first glance it seems that using digital technologies in the classroom only benefits the children, when in fact, it goes much further than that. The demand for teachers to be comfortable using and teaching with digital technologies means that prospective teachers are required to be trained adequately with the required resources etc. This therefore means that these teachers will have this skill to move forward in an ever-developing world. As Marc Prensky (2001) discusses, ‘Digital Natives’ (the children of today, who have been raised in a digital world) find it much easier to adapt to new digital ideas, whereas ‘Digital Immigrants’ (the teachers and parents who have had to learn the digital “language”) have to work harder to be digitally literate. The advance in digital technologies and their use in schools also provides a benefit for parents and carers of the pupils: many schools have a digital platform that forms a communication channel between the home and school environments. Future employers also benefit from digital technologies being such a key part of our education system today, as their future employees are being trained for jobs that will inevitably revolve around digital technologies. Inside the classroom, digital technologies can make a massive impact on specific groups of children as well: Additional Support Needs (ASN) pupils may find using digital technologies supports their learning, children with English as a second language, students who possibly need to be challenged further etc.

The Scottish Government (2016) outlined 4 main objectives that they aim to accomplish over the next few years, regarding digital technologies:

  • Develop the skills of our educators – ensuring that trainee teachers receive the proper guidance and resources in order for them to be confident in teaching the digital technologies
  • Improve access – make sure every child has access to digital technologies and that every child has equal opportunities when it comes to learning
  • Enhance curriculum and assessment delivery – ensure that the curriculum involves the right kinds of skills to make sure our children are competent in digital technologies
  • Empower leaders – from council members to the first minister: ensure our decision-makers have the backing to really make positive change

Today’s session also allowed us to spend time navigating Glow and getting used to how it works. I have had limited experience on glow but it was very beneficial to explore what Glow has to offer – as it really is an amazing resource that is at our fingertips! I found it really interesting browsing the hundreds of tiles to choose which ones I wanted on my LaunchPad. I look forward to using these tiles in the future!

Lastly, in this class we discussed what a reflective journal is and why we are about to embark on creating one. We spoke about how it is more reflective than simply a diary, and relies on thoughts, feelings and reflection. By creating a reflective journal, we will be able to log our progress on this module, and at the end, be able to see how far we have come with digital technologies.


Scottish Governement (2016) Enhancing Learning And Teaching Through The Use Of Digital Technology: A Digital Learning And Teaching Strategy For Scotland.

Prensky, Marc (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.

Placement Experience

During my two week block placement, I was based in one of two P6 classes. The class was at full capacity with 33 pupils, which gave me an insight into the difficulties that this can bring to a teacher. I’m definitely glad I got to experience this early on in my journey to becoming a teacher, and hopefully this means I will be more equipped to deal with big class sizes in years to come. It was also evident to me that due to the needs in the class, the teacher had to take on more of a nurturing role than she would normally. This also gave me a great insight into the complexities of a large group of children and how to cope with varying needs in the classroom. I am keen to develop my knowledge of Additional Support Needs in the classroom and how to support pupils in the appropriate way.  I am also glad I got to witness days that didn’t go 100% smoothly, as this happens often in reality, and how teachers coped with hic-ups in a calm and collected manner – a skill that is crucial in being a primary teacher.

I spent the first week in the P6 class, getting to know the pupils and familiarising myself with their class routines. I got the opportunity to have some responsibility of the class and small groups, i.e. taking their spelling assessment, bringing in the lines in the morning and after break/lunch, leading a group in practically working out a problem solving question with hula hoops. My second week was spent getting a taste of other stages in the school – I got the chance to work with nearly every stage. This gave me a real understanding of the different teaching styles needed for different levels within a school. It was genuinely interesting to see different approaches of teachers from class to class, and I hope to take these inspirations on board to develop my own professional teaching style.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on placement: it allowed me to put the theory I have learned so far into practice and gave me a context for my future learning. I think it will be easier to understand new concepts as I can relate it back to a realistic setting.

Self Evaluation Study Task

After watching the videos, I feel I am more aware of the importance of self-evaluation. I understand that the only way to improve and move forward is to take time to reflect on how well you did something and what you could improve for future. Without taking the time to look back and evaluate, you may stunt your professional progression. It is hard to get into the habit of self-evaluating. It can seem a little unnatural and uncomfortable, but the rewards definitely make it worthwhile and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.

With placement fast approaching, it will be useful for me to take time to reflect on how I perform when I am there, and what aspects could do with some improving. I know that it is okay to make mistakes (which is very likely in your first placement), as long as we learn from them. Hopefully this will mean I get the most out of my time at placement. Placement is an exciting but nerve-racking time, so it is important to use time efficiently and make sure we benefit from our time at school.

From watching the videos, I understand not only that self-evalutaion is important but also that peer evaluation is also key. A lot of the time, someone else can pick up on things you don’t notice. A second pair of eyes can catch things that may have slipped through the net. It is important for a peer or mentor to be encouraging, by giving praise as well as areas to improve. The videos talked about how vital it is for a trainee and mentor to have a good relationship of respect and understanding, in order to give effective feedback. I think it is also important that we, as teachers, are comfortable receiving feedback and don’t take it personally – we all want to be the best we can be professionally, and the only way to achieve this is through evaluation and reflection. We should make sure when we are reporting back to a trainee or peer, that we give constructive criticism and feedback, rather than judgement.

Situated Communication: Hargie (2011) Chapter 5 Reading Task

The main aim of this chapter is to convey the importance of asking questions. The author explains how, to most people, questioning seems very straightforward, but in reality, it is a very complex feature of communication.

As the author describes different ways in which questions are important, he repeatedly mentions the education system and learning. Other themes in the text include the effect of questioning in social interactions and also in a professional context.

A claim made in the chapter is that the way in which questions are contextualised can affect acquiescence. The evidence for this is in the context of asking people about their earliest memory:   if you say something like “If you don’t remember it’s all right” (i.e.  low expectancy conditions) as opposed to “Tell me when you get an earlier memory” (i.e. high expectancy conditions), you may not get the best answer out of the person. Hirt et al. (1999) showed earliest reported life memories from respondents of 3.45 years and 2.28 years respectively, showing that high expectancy conditions can produce a better answer.

Hargie states that “with over talkative clients”, open questions “may be less appropriate”. Despite agreeing with this to a certain extent, I disagree that this is the full picture. Open questions allow for room for an unexpected answer, which definitely does not always mean an irrelevant answer. Out-of-the-box thinking is welcome with open questioning: if we always asked closed questions, we wouldn’t have the platform for imagination and progression that open questions gives us.

When reading the chapter, I was unsure of the word “acquiescence”.  I looked it up to find that it means the reluctant acceptance of something without protest.

A concept in the chapter that I found particularly interesting is the effects of leading questions upon children. The section spoke about how easy it is to ‘contaminate’ a child’s statement through the use of suggestive language. This distorting effect particularly affects younger children (3 – 5.5 years) as they are less able to resist suggestion than older ones (5.5 – 8 years) (Hardy and van Leeuwen (2004)).

In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the different types of questions and found it fascinating that questions have such a big impact on our every day life.

References: Finding out about others: the skill of questioning’, in Hargie, O. (2011) Skilled Interpersonal Communication: Research, Theory and Practice. 5th ed. London: Routledge.

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