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Digital Schools.......Why?

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

Grammar police, cool your heels. I know it doesn't read well but imagine a crying toddler and then you will get the 'why?' . For many parents, teachers and some students this is exactly the response that the idea of digital schools provokes......'why?' followed by some form of barely audible whimper.

There are five key reasons for digital:

i) Remember these helping to prepare children for their exciting futures?

Chalk, slate, rolling blackboards, rolling white boards, banding machines, the slide rule, VHS and Betamax, Laser Discs, Over Head Projectors, Over Head Transfers, Scrolling Overhead Projectors? No? Neither does anyone else. The point is that change is an essential reality of society which schools can choose to ignore, then desperately catch up years later, or accept and embrace the reality of societal change and innovation.

ii) Digital is about equipping children with the skills for their future not our past.

By working together with parents lockdown has enabled us to offer a subsidy to put a device into the hands of every student in the school. This summer we are investing £60K in the school's broadband infrastructure, ripping out our aging cabling and replacing it with two 1000mps fibre cables: for reference we currently have one 100mps cable, and home broadband works on approximately 10 to 25mps. We will also be replacing all of the 1gb switchgear and cabling with 10gb equipment. All of this ground work will mean we can begin our three year transformation to become a digital school; equipping children with the relevant transferable skills for their future in the world of work and higher education.

iii) Collaborative Learning; Deeper Participation & Better Engagement and Better Organisation

Were, or are you, the child who hated being picked on in the class? Digital provides amazing opportunities to create, safe, virtual learning spaces in the physical classroom. This means participation in the classroom blending the traditional with the digital using each student's own device. This opens up online apps, online white boards, instant quizzes, or collaboration in small groups or virtual break out rooms. This has the potential for greater participation and engagement without the social stigma that many pupils can feel when asked to answer a question in front of their peers. For GCSE and A Level students the use of tablets, Teams and OneNote provides the potential for a quantum leap forward in student organisation of day to day work and of staff/student communications.

iv) Diagnostic learning.

Instant feedback is the singular most powerful tool at a teacher's and a learner's disposal, its the thing that shapes learning and drives progress. So imagine a classroom where teaching was better tailored to the needs of the individual, where instant diagnostic quick quizzes with auto marking helped to guide the teacher in the lesson to the precise needs of every learner and not just those whose hands go up first? Imagine a classroom where instant feedback from the entire class guides and shapes the next phase of collaborative learning, actively and instantly in the classroom.

v) Green Learning.

Can we really continue to ignore the environmental impact of waste in schools? The single biggest achievable reduction in the KEVIGS carbon footprint will come from ending our reliance on paper because its not just paper. Its printer cartridges, the plastic in printers themselves, photocopiers, toning, cabling, the electricity, the diesel and transport costs of purchase and of recycling or disposal; not to mention the lost books and missing homework!

What about exams?

In 2019, pre-COVID, OFQUAL and the examination boards consulted on moving exams online; the report concluded that a further 3 to 5 years of IT development was needed in most schools. Today, COVID has been the locomotive of digital change, now the exam boards are going back out to consult again and online exams are likely to become a reality sooner rather than later.

KEVIGS Digital Transformation 2021-2024

- 2020 each child to have a digital device and eBooks.

- Summer 2021 - £50K investment in 2 x 1000mbs high capacity broadband & infrastructure.

- September 2021 - 2nd phase roll out of eBooks and digital devices to new Year 7

- 2021-2023 Development of Digital Teaching Practice, sharing of best practice, research and

development of collaborative digital learning.

- 2024 Digital, Paperless, School.

- 2025 Online Public Examinations (?)

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