Digital learning system for Wales recommended by review

Tablet computers
Image caption Teachers could get training in hand-held technology

A major new digital learning system in Wales should be created in classrooms, making the use of hand-held devices and cloud computing the norm.

That's the finding of a review of the way teachers and pupils use digital technology in schools.

It has recommended creating an organisation to drive forward digital learning.

The review group was chaired by Janet Hayward, headteacher of Cadoxton Primary School in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan.

It says the public body would establish a national online library of resources, software and training materials, in both English and Welsh.

It also recommends more support and training for teachers in how to use the kind of handheld technology now common in everyday life.

It concludes that "the use of digital technologies and resources needs to change from being sporadic and patchy to being ubiquitous and taken for granted in education throughout Wales".

The report acknowledges that teacher training is key to improving the use of digital technology in the classroom.

It recognises that "its cultural and creative engine will be teachers".

The report said: "They will be crucial not only in delivering technology-enhanced teaching and promoting digital learning resources, but also in creating resources, sharing them with other teachers and helping to develop the entire digital learning climate."

It recommends training for existing teachers and that, in future, digital learning should be part of initial teacher training and postgraduate courses.

The report, entitled 'Find it, make it, use it, share it', concludes that a central hub, or public body, should oversee these changes, and establish a new online learning tool.

Since 2002, the National Grid for Learning (NGfL) Cymru has offered learning resources online.

'Online library'

The review concludes that the model should be built upon, to create a much larger website for teachers and learners in Wales.

It recommends:

  • Creating a national online library of learning resources, with a central bank of tools, software and apps available to everyone.
  • Training and advice in using digital resources for learning and teaching would also be provided. The resources would be bilingual, wherever possible.
  • Generating links with "trusted sources" such as the National Library of Wales and National Museum Wales.
  • An e-portfolio would also allow a user to build their CV online over many years.

Each individual learner and teacher would be able to access the site at school or at home.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews commissioned the review last year.

'Wireless access'

Responding to its findings, he said: "New technologies can offer new approaches to engage learners.

"Digital content, wireless access in classrooms, cloud computing and mobile hand-held touch screen devices can revolutionise the way in which we communicate and share information with each other in the 21st Century.

"It's not unreasonable for learners, parents and teachers to expect that the technology they use in their daily life can also be used in education. Across schools in Wales you will see an array of technology being used innovatively for learning and teaching.

"It is important that all learners and teachers have access to appropriate technology and can use it with confidence. We know there's good practice out there, but as with many things in education, it's important that schools learn and share the best ideas.

"I want Wales to a take a lead on digital inclusion and digital learning and this report shows us how we can achieve that goal."

Dr Philip Dixon, director of the ATL union said the passion and enthusiasm of the report's writers shone through.

"The vital importance of digital technology in the 21st Century is undeniable and it is essential that the children of Wales are not left behind in this fast moving world.

"The report is correct to urge that a systematic and strategic approach, rather than ad hoc developments, is adopted in equipping every young person with these comparatively new skills."

He said it presented a clear challenge to the Welsh government, with connection speeds vital, and it raised again issues over funding of education.

The NUT's Owen Hathway added: "The general overview of the proposals at first glance appears positive, but they must be matched by resources being made available.

"There is no point having a digital strategy if there are schools in Wales without access to the equipment to implement it."

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