Meaningful use of technology

By Sammy White


FE is the most inclusive sector of education, everyone is welcome to come and learn with us. Yet it can be exclusive in its application of technology. From campus to campus within the same college group levels of access to technology can vary wildly. Examples of Level 3 graphics work on the latest Mac’s yet entry 1 ESOL have one hour a term in the library on the campus desktops are sadly common. How with such varied levels of access to technology do we ensure that when we do use technology, it has meaning?

Imagine that dreaded OfSTED deep dive into your area and that conversation about your use of technology. What does a good use of technology look like for you? There are models of SAMR or TPACK to help reflect, but ultimately you know your subject and you know your students. Therefore you know how to make the use of technology meaningful in your setting.

It is obvious to a visitor when students are doing something new and special because of the need to use technology in the session. Routine therefore becomes important but how do you avoid a tokenistic routine where you use technology for the sake of it? A formative assessment done on a device using technology might be a great routine but what do you do with the results of that formative assessment? How do you adjust the direction of learning informed by those results? 

In truth that can be challenging to do without the use of technology. But having to access the results on an online quiz platform, digest students results and then adjust mid session can be cognitively challenging. Another option might be an exit ticket reflection where students share their thoughts on the session and describe what they learned. A quick rating of their progress against the learning intention with a follow up question where students describe their learning or define where they want toe extend their learning is a simple 2 question format. 

Capturing this digitally in a Form that results in a spreadsheet means you can digest the results, when you have time, and adjust the direction of learning, ready for the next session. Students could access this form via a link shortener every lesson, building that routine or via a QR code on the wall. With date and time stamps allocated in the spreadsheet this could be routine across all your groups. Could you capture this student reflection in another way? Yes, but would students be as honest? This might make technology a good option to elevate this learning experience.

Professional trust is a key part of making the use of technology meaningful for students. Teachers, lecturers, workshop leaders are the experts on their students, they know what works best. Let’s trust professionals to find meaning for their use of technology in their classroom, with their students.

This blog was written as a draft formulation of the author’s ideas before submitting her contribution to the new open source journal Future FE Pedagogies. Sammy would welcome your thoughts, ideas and comments to help her extend her thinkpiece. You can share them via a Mentimeter poll here:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *