The COVID whirlwind is still spiralling for many educators. Education technology has been brought to the forefront of everyone’s minds, so where next and what should we do to ensure that it is meaningful and the best for every child?
Over the last 18 months, schools have been through digital transformations, planned possibly, but equally faster than anticipated. Now schools worldwide are using technology in classrooms to differing degrees, but how do we strike a balance between this being meaningful or being overused and unsupportive of students’ learning outcomes?
From working with on developing digital learning, technology has seen been seen as a gimmick. I, for one, know after delivering over 1000 hours of CPD online to educators in the first lockdown alone that digital learning is now being seen as much more than just the shiny new toy.
We have full attention!
But how do we transition from “surviving” through COVID to “thriving” with learning as our end goal?
And, with so many staff now engaged in the concept of digital learning, we need to keep this momentum going.
Given the task of looking at how well technology and digital literacy have developed in school, I took the opportunity also to change perceptions of how learning walks could be completed in a way which focused on being able to adapt and develop our teaching and learning methods continually.
Without “formal” judgment. But with relevant outcomes to nurture a sense of success for the things which work and we should hold onto, share and develop.
To make the impact and outcomes of digital learning tangible to leadership and stakeholders, I needed to use a visual framework for success. The outcomes could then link to what we can still be improved.
I took insight from the ADAPT model, presented by Oliver Caviglioli and Tom Sherrington in their book Teaching WalkThrus: Five-step guides to instructional coaching. Coaching is vital; we are not judging but supporting one another to achieve our goals.
One of the reasons I chose this model as opposed to the “traditional” learning walk was due to the nature of it being an ongoing concept of ADAPT-ing & Coaching.
I know I feel panic and pressure to perform if someone is coming into my classroom when planned, no matter my experience in some schools for teachers to not receive any feedback. I much prefer an open door, a community of sharing good practice. Not the case in all schools, so I hope this idea can provide some ideas about how to think differently.
What is ADAPT?
Attempt, Develop, Adapt, Practice & Test.
So to begin my review, I looked at the ADAPT model and also looked at the Apple Rubric from the book Elements of learning, something which I have used in several schools to support embedding meaningful digital concepts; I modified the Apple Rubric reducing the criteria’s to three areas,
- Using digital skills in lessons
- Students understanding of how to use digital tools
- Enhancement of the subject
I love a rubric, the use of them in lessons is supportive to our students, guiding them, developing, showing what is expected, so it made sense to have a similar tack when completing a learning walk.
The rubric allowed assessment of how well digital technology has been integrated into the schools teaching and learning. The primary outcome being that students understood what they were being taught and that it was helpful to their learning outcomes, not an add on. From my perspective as well, having completed one 18 months ago, it was interesting to compare the progress of the strategy.
To be able to assess this, the “learning walk” would take the format of the following:
Element One: Staff Survey
Questions designed to encourage personal reflection, allowing recognition of how far they have come in 12 months, considering the weeks and additions in line with the students in front of you, the context of curriculum and new technology or tools available to you.
- Focusing on one essential subject or lesson, where do you place yourself in the ADAPT model?
- Considering the same essential subject or lesson, where would you like to be on the ADAPT model next term?
- How do you rate your confidence in using digital technology?
- Has digital literacy been added to your curriculum?
To support, I created a document explaining the ADAPT concept to staff, so they could confidently answer the question. They are considering all of the new tools they have been using.
This was important, I find a big barrier to digital teaching and learning is this concept that you must “master” when in reality, digital learning will forever change, so we should always be re-evaluating our practice.
- Staff confidence in delivering digital learning is now rated 4/5 for 84% of staff
- Staff feel they are not at “attempt” but continually working around, develop, adapt and practice, using skills they have learnt.
- 70% of staff said that Digital Literacy was now fully embedded within their subject.
Element Two: Student Surveys
The final element of the process was to speak to our main “stakeholders” the students. Where better to get our feedback about how we as teachers are doing than to ask our students. Asking a range of questions, a few are below;
- What subjects have you enjoyed the most this term?
- What piece of work have you used technology with which has been most enjoyable?
- Do you prefer lessons that involve the use of technology?
- If you were in charge of digital learning what would you implement?
I love the honesty of students, you find out so much, refreshing and mature when asked direct questions. They feel empowered to be able to support, what did it say?
- Student enjoys being able to learn new skills to show off their knowledge.
- Students feel they are more organised since introducing google classroom, they are more in control of revision materials, hand in dates and lesson tasks are clear.
- Students enjoy having verbal feedback recorded as they can reflect on it again when they complete work.
- Students feel there is less anxiety towards doing assessments as teachers are completing more quizzes and mini assessments.
The rubric allowed me to assess how well digital technology has been integrated into the schools teaching and learning, the main outcome is that students understood what they were being taught and that it was useful to their learning outcomes.
The rubric was also shared with staff before the learning walk to show what is being looked at. Transparency is key to being able to gain trust and to in turn be able to support staff.
Element Three: Student Portfolios or shared work
One of the things we asked students to do was share their favourite project and tell us why it was so engaging and fun. This was a great way to find out the skills they had learnt and also if they had been able to challenge themselves and their subject and even chose relevant software to complete tasks.
Top skills learnt by students from using digital technology,
Research, Independent learning and Creativity
with students feeling like having digital tools allowed them to blend subjects and learning helping them to achieve more.
So why ADAPT and ask what is going on?
I believe that if we do not acknowledge the achievements and learning which we as teachers have taken on in the last 12 months, then what have we achieved? We risk those staff, who before COVID would have ignored digital technology, simply put down the device, ignoring the impact it has had on reducing their mark load or how their consistent approach to formative assessment has strengthened their understanding of students knowledge gaps.
We must embrace the positive developments which it has had on our working systems, removing the things which we no longer need to waste time on, or those things as restrictions ease can be done in traditional senses.
Embedding digital learning fully, by understanding what is being enjoyed, what can be removed and what can be learnt from is an important step to being able to develop a digital balance. Where digital learning is meaningful and relevant.
- Looking at consistent use of quizzing apps in lessons so students achievement is not based on time or literacy
- Using less technology when it is not necessary (We are currently in a hybrid model) Students recognise that we don’t always need the device to complete tasks, so when this is the case, lets not.
- Ensuring that we don’t always give students an option of digital tool, some are swaying to “easy” when the tools could differentiate and support them to challenge themselves.
So where next?
We can see what is going well and areas to improve, in term three, we will focus as departments to use the rubric when considering using technology as part of a lesson or a project, the beginning stage embedding in the planning. Using all our digital tools to ADAPT and make sure it is worthwhile, relevant and supports learning.
Technology for learning is not a gimmick, we should be making sure it is fit for purpose, it continually develops, so do we. Keep the momentum going by acknowledging how far you have come.