Beyond "recovery": 7 key questions to review your use of digital teaching and learning

Elaine Ricks-Neal, NACE Challenge Award Adviser

Recent events, through necessity, have catapulted schools into a change of existing practice to meet the challenges of remote learning. An interesting outcome has been the rapid increase in skills and confidence levels of many teachers in the use of digital learning technologies and with it a growing enthusiasm to explore the potential of technology to really transform the way we teach and how pupils learn. Through effective use of digital platforms, tools and apps, many schools have enabled pupils to access the curriculum in rich and engaging ways, signposting pupils to quality online resources they can use independently, encouraging collaborative learning and finding ways to personalise learning and feedback to pupils, often with the added bonus of greater involvement of parents in that process.

With this unprecedented level of teacher, pupil and also parental engagement with technology, is this now the time for schools to revisit their vision for digital learning, providing a structured opportunity for colleagues to reflect on what has worked well and next steps? Below are seven key questions for teachers, phase teams, departments and schools.

Note: Remember to keep the focus on the impact on learning; don’t be side-tracked by looking at digital resources in isolation.

1. What has worked well?

Set aside dedicated time to share the digital resources and approaches you have used, commenting on the quality of the materials and how they supported your learning objectives. What worked well? How do you know? What could be the next steps?

2. How can curriculum and lesson plans be adapted?

Look at curriculum plans and learning objectives and identify where in the planning phases you could use digital learning. Be clear about why and what the learning impact would be. For example, increased cognitive challenge and access to complex material in class and home learning? Developing pupil independence? Are there distinctive opportunities for your most able pupils?

3. How can we involve pupils as partners in digital learning development?

Discuss how you can explore the impact of approaches through consulting pupils about what they see as the benefits, possible pitfalls and opportunities of using technology to help them learn. How can the pupils’ own skills now be further developed? Consider setting up a focus group of able pupils to monitor the impact of new approaches.

4. Are there opportunities to work with parents more effectively?

Make the most of the high levels of recent parental engagement to consider any new opportunities presented by digital learning to help parents engage with and support their children’s learning at home and in school. Workshops on learning platforms and online resources available to support their child’s learning? Seeking their own views on the recent remote learning experience?

5. What are the digital skills that teachers now need to develop?

To build on newly grown/growing confidence levels, identify future skills and CPD needs individually, as a department, and as a school.

6. Do we now want to revisit our vision and policy?

Use the discussions as a basis to revisit your teaching and learning, more able and/or other relevant school policies. Is the vision for the use of technology to impact on teaching and learning fully articulated and agreed by all colleagues? Do you want to add new commentary on aims or provision?

7. How do we plan for continuous improvement?

Plan strategically from your discussions, integrating your action points into school improvement plans, and being clear about how the actions will be implemented, resourced and reviewed for impact.

The review discussion can feed into the broader whole-school vision of the transformative potential of technology to drive innovation and create autonomous learners who have the digital skills which are vital in today’s world.

New guidance on digital learning as part of NACE Challenge Framework

Element 3 of the NACE Challenge Framework focuses on curriculum, teaching and support; it includes a requirement for schools to audit how effectively their vision for using technology translates into improved daily practice within and outside the classroom. To support this, NACE has created a new Digital Learning Review and Forward Planning Tool, available for all schools working with the Challenge Framework to support a review of current policy and provision in the use of digital learning.

To access this new guidance, log in to the NACE Challenge Hub. PLUS: join our free live webinar on 20 October for an introduction to the tool and live Q&A.

Not yet using the Challenge Framework? Available for just £395 + VAT, the Challenge Framework provides comprehensive criteria and guidance to support whole-school review and improvement in provision for more able learners, promoting challenge for all. Read more or get in touch to discuss relevant support and next steps for your school.

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