How does a school leader know when ‘tech’ is bringing something truly valuable to a school? In short, its use throughout the institution should be ‘natural’: rather than being a distraction, or an end in itself, technology should enhance the entire learning experience.
To check whether this is in fact the case, it’s worth putting your school’s relationship with tech under the spotlight. Do teachers know how and when to use it to maximum effect and in a safe manner? Do students know how to negotiate the internet in a way that keeps them safe? Are parents aware of their responsibilities? Is your IT set-up fit for purpose? Here are five areas to focus on to help ensure a flourishing relationship…
1. Regard staff training as an ongoing, valuable process
Like many types of relationship, your relationship with tech is changing all the time – even if you don’t realise it. A decade or so ago for instance, most teachers were still getting to grips with the potential of the internet as a learning tool, yet at the same time, few were familiar with the concept of ‘cyberbullying’ – even though by that time it was a very real phenomenon. What was once a ‘niche’ concern is now mainstream.
The lesson for your staff is that if they think they currently know all they need to about use of technology, they may be mistaken. New opportunities – and new potential threats can emerge rapidly. Rather than something that’s the sole preserve of your e-safety officer, ongoing training should be on the agenda for all staff. This is something to consider when arranging CPD courses.
2. Provide appropriate guidance to students on e-safety
The guidance you are required to provide students tends to focus on teaching them how to safeguard themselves. At the same time, it’s important to cover the possible longer-term implications of anything they post online. Cyberbullying is just part of the equation here. Especially for older students, it’s important that they appreciate the reputational consequences of what they post. Online Compass is a useful source of resources in this area.
3 Specific support for students who are in difficulty
Ofsted takes this especially seriously and will now routinely make enquiries of schools to check the level of support provided to students unsafe or are the victim of harassment. As well as providing a vital safeguarding measure, this type of approach is also vitally important for ensuring students enjoy a healthy relationship with tech – i.e. one which is going to aid their learning.
4. Working with parents
Parents want their children to be tech-savvy and they also want to be empowered to keep them safe. Your outreach efforts should focus on reassuring parents about the measures you have in place in school as well as pointing them in the right direction to take similar measures at home. Thinkuknow provides a number of useful age-specific resources in this area.
5. The right partnerships
You want a robust yet user friendly virtual learning environment. You want the ability to restrict access, monitor usage and spot potential problems. You also want a first-class system that enhances the entire learning experience. You also want the type of service that ensures that ‘snags’ are addressed as quickly as possible.
Make sure you partner up with a service provider with expertise in delivering all of this to educational establishments. Speak to Help4IT today.