First things first, let’s just say it: we think that digital learning and teaching are here to stay. The use of digital technology in education might only be a recent phenomenon, but it’s one that’s already having profound effects on how we teach, how we learn and how students succeed.
So, rather than yet another piece on whether we should digitise our classrooms at all, let’s take a look at whether the change is likely to stick.
Digital and mobile learning is a reflection of a huge societal shift
Digital and mobile learning are, rightly or wrongly, taking over the classroom. Growing numbers of school boards and individual teachers are moving with the times and using digital sources to teach, and digital environments to work in. But this isn’t simply a change within education; it’s anything but. It’s a reflection of the way that society is heading more generally.
Smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs are a part of every home in a way that was unimaginable even just twenty years ago. They offer convenience and flexibility that was completely unheard of not just in education, but in nearly every aspect of life. As humans, we’re never ones to give up something convenient unless something more convenient comes along. We gave up fax in the 1990s, not because we didn’t want to communicate any more, but because email came along. So societal change isn’t going anywhere, its only likely to accelerate as it always has done.
Digital learning in the classroom is backed up by some big names
Since the digitisation of classrooms reflects not just a niche change, but a whole societal restructuring, it’s no surprise that some big names in business are sitting up and taking note. Hundreds of businesses just like Quickclass are moving with the times, and making VLEs and apps that can both help push this digital revolution forward, and help you to benefit from it.
And, naturally, it’s not just us. Probably the biggest name to have stepped into the market is Google, who are famous for trying to get their finger into almost every pie going. Google have created Google Classroom; while we don’t think it’s the best VLE out there, it’s a sign that the big guys are very interested for their own variety of reasons.
Digital learning and teaching benefit everybody
Allowing your students greater flexibility to do their work is only of benefit. It allows them to study and work wherever they choose, alter the pace of their learning to suit their needs, and even completely change how they learn. This sort of student led learning isn’t a new idea, but digital learning and teaching allows it to blossom like never before.
And the use of a virtual learning environment doesn’t just benefit students, it benefits teachers too. VLEs allow teachers to better organise their work load, share marks more easily with both students and parents, and find and share a wide variety of learning and support tools all through one interface. As we’ve said elsewhere, we believe that teachers and the digital classroom are the perfect match, and that this change is here to stay.
You’re an innovator, you like to be one of the first ones to spot and adopt the Next Big Thing, and even use it like no one ever has before you. You believe there’s no such thing as 100% optimal, but are willing to strive and experiment, and tweak and learn from mistakes to get pretty darned close.
The important thing is to try. You take risks and increasingly hone your skills in picking the right horses to back. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg once said, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
For early adopting teachers, always on the lookout for new technologies to accelerate and enhance their students’ learning and at the same time save them laborious admin time, here are the 6 solid reasons to remain an Early Adopter:
1. Being First allows you to be Best. Early adoption of technology not only proves and exercises your adaptability, it also gives your department complete creative freedom to experiment and revolutionize use cases before the technology becomes mainstream throughout a school and old hat. (you’ll be onto the next thing!)
2. You’re the Expert. You’ll be the one other teachers will come to for advice and expertise, Thought leadership in your school is critical to growing respect and earning the admiration of your colleagues and school governors. When you become the go-to on questions of the next big thing, you become an even bigger asset to your school.
3. Grow your Subject Buzz. We all know that film and media subjects are unfairly but regardless often marginalised in our schools, and don’t get a much encouragement and therefore attention as many other subjects. One great way to combat this is to grow the Buzz around your subject. Luckily handheld devices are allowing students to share their coursework and projects like never before!
4. Lead the Followers. Once you’ve successfully adopted a new technology in your department, teachers from other departments will come to you for advice on how to adopt it successfully for their own subjects. In other words, you become an integral part of the story used to educate future adopters.
5. Help make it Better. When you take a risk and become an early adopter, you can often get involved directly with the technology developers themselves and help shape future developments. A huge benefit as well is to receive the sort of one-on-one support and attention that later adopters rarely get once a technology has gone mainstream.
6. Get in with the Right Crowd. Early adopters are also the one’s most likely to enjoy to encounter other early adopters, and with online communities, the chances to do that grow constantly. For the same reason that these others like you are following the mantras and reasons above and becoming the Pioneers, the fact is, the early adopters and innovators tend to get along really well with each other. You’re an amazing crowd!
So, in the face of inertia from above in your school and even apathy from below, film and media teachers like you continue to look to the latest technology to keep your subject energised, growing and a memorably valuable learning experience for your students.
(credit to Inc. mag for inspiration)