Since the Digital Competence Framework was released in Wales, the Digital Pioneers have been impressed and inspired by the uptake and schools’ eagerness to become involved.
One of the most common questions asked to Pioneers is ‘Do I need to buy new equipment to meet the skills in the Digital Competence Framework?’. Well if schools were able to meet all of the previous National Curriculum Skills, the likelihood is that they do not need new kit. However, what schools may need to do is work smarter with what they already have or consider long term options for updating what they have. As so much of our world is now online it is essential that learners are able to access the internet. So before buying kit, schools should look carefully at their infrastructure and consider whether investment first needs to be spent on developing internet and wireless capability and reliability.
The Welsh Government has provided Hwb as a place to support schools in developing their digital skills. Through the use of tools such as Office 365, J2E and Britannica, schools can meet most online skills without having to purchase additional software or licenses. As Hwb continues to evolve and develop, updates will ensure that new and refined areas of Hwb support an increasingly wide range of skills.
Much of the Digital Competence Framework does not even need technology. This may seem like a strange concept to some, but the higher order skills, particularly in computational thinking, can be completed on paper. For example, when planning a presentation, the plan can be just as effectively laid out on paper as if a tablet was used to write it out.
Sometimes, when technology is involved, lessons become all about the tech, rather than the learning. For that reason much of the Digital Competence Framework has been written so that learners place as much value on the planning and evaluation aspects as on the product or resource that they are creating. Value needs to be put on these two aspects so that the lessons are as meaningful as possible and that this reflects what we do in real life; we plan, we carry out and we evaluate.
When planning activities, learners should be given the choice of whether to use technology or not. In a Digitally Competent school, learners should be presented with a variety of tech and non-tech options and decide and evaluate for themselves what their preference is. This can lead onto excellent discussions about why different learners have different preferences and the reasons for choosing different methods. Of course, the learners need to have initial input on how to use the technology so that they can have a discussion on whether its use is appropriate in the situation.
This is not to say that schools should not be investing in technology. We must prepare the learners of Wales for the future and schools need to have long term plans to regularly update their hardware and infrastructure so that learners are not left using outdated tools. Technology moves at an incredible pace and schools need to be organised and forward thinking so that they are moving forward too.
– Ian Timbrell, St Gwladys Bargoed School