Digital Education

I currently revel in the title of ‘Digital Education Officer’ at the Stephen Perse Foundation. With the help of lots of friendly people, I facilitate the creation and use of digital education resources.

 

Learning is, as with many social endeavours, supported and opened up by the internet. There are countless amazing resources out there to learn in whatever area you so choose. This can be done in a piecemeal fashion through reading Wikipedia pages, watching Youtube videos or even reading academic papers as the fancy takes you.

 

For the more disciplined learner, there are whole courses out there. A large part of my job involves developing iTunes U courses. These aim to provide a rich and varied way for students to learn about a topic, including videos, games, worksheets, twitter conversations, flashcards and quizzes. These are provided by a whole range of schools, universities and colleges, so there is something for everyone. These are freely available from iTunes. For those who don’t have an Apple device, alison has been recommended to me as worth a look, providing free certified courses.

 

There is no shortage of people both within and without the educational sphere who either fear or loathe the idea of digital learning. This is no surprise when supposed experts are going into schools and waving about the latest article about someone who forgot to log out of facebook being ‘hacked’, or about grooming or cyber-bulling or whatever. We cannot protect or prepare children or teenagers if parents and teachers are so horrified by the thought of the scary world of the internet that they refuse to engage with it at all.

 

In a similar vein, a school I previously worked in produced an e-safety policy that demanded no use of phones on site (not even by the teachers), blocking of youtube and other potentially useful sites and more or less ordered that any personal social network accounts of staff were shut down. This not only ignores the infinite possibilities for learning offered by the digital world (see SPFLearning for some great examples), but can result in a wider generation divide where children who are abusing or suffering abuse on the internet have no responsible adult who can speak the language and understand the difficulties they are having.

 

There are potential dangers on the internet and also potentially inaccurate information. However, brilliant innovations are constantly being developed, refined and produced and we as educators have a responsibility to children not only to provide the best education possible, but also to prepare them for life after school. Digital technology is necessary to fulfil both of these responsibilities.

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