How we get our digital ecosystem right post-pandemic, from Philippa Wraithmell.

As we enter a new school year, it is time, as educators, to ensure we are prepared for everything. After the last 18 months, we have been through a vast change, forced into the future of education – for some at a pace unwanted, for others a relief that they could embrace the benefits of technology. Do not place it on a shelf and let it get dusty until the next time. We have now all seen first-hand what can happen to the world overnight and just how important being digitally savvy is.

Even those who felt they were off the grid and always would be, now must embrace the change.

Potential

As educators, we are working on the future of the students in our care. We need to be considering what skills they need for their future and not the skills which we currently think they need; these are very different things. There is rapid change happening all around us. It has been for quite some time, but in parts, education has stood still whilst the world whizzed around it. Pockets of innovation tried to sprout, but the vast majority were weeded out.

What we now know is that there is truly a huge amount of potential for everyone within education and it is important to ensure that we are focused upon what is best for our students and best for our community.

Refine not reinvent

It is so easy to fall into a trance with pretty Edtech which looks like it could change the world without really understanding what it can and will do. I hope that if we have learnt anything over this period it is that Edtech can be empowering, but this next year is not about changing everything; yes, refine, but if it isn’t broken, let’s not dent the progress which we have all made in embedding it within our school ecosystems.

Even if your school wasn’t “ready” for remote working or even digital teaching, now is the time to take a breath and iterate, let’s review, and take the time now to see what has worked. Some of us will have already done this in preparation for what the new academic year has in store for us.

Do not devalue the work which your school has been able to create and develop over these last 18 months, the training and the time given to learning new tools of their trade. Aside from anything, we also need to be mindful of the wellbeing of all those within our schools, changing everything and removing the consistency will have a huge effect upon morale and energy. Keep it simple.

Time to question

Our teachers were deep in the weeds. They made it out, they have the knowledge and ambition to help develop the vision for where your school will move to next. Think, when reviewing, and ask those people: Why are we using this? Is it useful? Does it get the best out of all of those in our school? Where can it take us next?

It is a time to question what is best; what is best for our learning, teaching, and inspiring all to learn. Not what the school down the road does – we are all individual, looking after our own ecosystems, developing cohorts of students who are all different. You must make sure that you are sustainable as a school. Finances, professional development, SEND, community outreach – every area should be considered. Everyone matters and should be empowered by the choices you make moving forwards.

Every school should now have a strategy, plans of actions and policies in place for how they use technology including digital governance, digital safeguarding, digital teaching and learning, and digital curation.

Summary

Tighten up on everything around your ecosystem. No one should be sitting by the wayside, by choice or otherwise. Create support networks for staff, students and parents. Ensure people are accountable. Begin to develop what you have been successful with already, find your pockets of success – big and small. Curate what you have, add new elements but, most of all, be consistent, communicate decisions and work on the good progress which has been made over the last 18 months across education.

Don’t let the devices get dusty. Support the future!

Author

  • Philippa Wraithmell

    Philippa directed digital education and strategy at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi through the pandemic, leading to it becoming a 1:1 device school. Prior to this, she led the digital vision at Repton Abu Dhabi, an Apple distinguished 1:1 device school in the UAE. She is an Apple Distinguished Educator, and in 2020 won a GESS Education award for Innovation in Learning.

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