How do schools use digital technology and what are the implications for heritage venues?
Quite a few of our recent projects have involved research into how schools use digital technology and how this might relate to heritage settings.
Digital technology is now a feature of most classrooms, although provision varies widely. Teachers now appear to be viewing technology differently, they see it as another tool they can use to engage children and young people. It provides a degree of flexibility when teaching, if one approach in a lesson doesn’t work, they can easily adapt it by introducing a short video, a piece of music, an image or a game.
Teachers use digital technology to:
- Engage children creatively and imaginatively
- Enhance lessons (videos, quizzes, games are all additional tools to engage children and young people with different learning styles)
- Communicate with children and young people in a classroom setting
- Be inclusive by offering a range of ways to engage children
- Develop a wide range of skills (teamwork, leadership, planning, negotiating) through creating content
- Help children and young people to use the Internet safely
- Engage young people differently with literacy and numeracy at school and at home
- Assess, document and record process
- Prepare young people (especially SEN) for site visits
- Source resources
- Evaluate sources.
Children and young people are increasingly familiar with technology; increasingly, Early Years children are finding technology easy to use.
How teachers use digital technology
At Key Stage 1 teachers are more likely to use digital technology as an assessment tool, to gather evidence to document and share learning journeys with parents.
They also use it to introduce a topic, model work, for story telling and for skills development through simple games.
At Key Stages 2 and 3 teachers are more likely to use technology to support young people to develop a range of skills and to facilitate enquiry-led learning. They will also use videos, music and images to stimulate debate or to create an atmosphere. Children are used to technology and learn quickly how to create content in the shape of videos or music.
Key Stage 4 and 5 teachers use online resources to impart information to support exam syllabi. They will often return to the same resources year after year. Such resources might include YouTube videos.
SEN teachers find digital technology invaluable. Most pupils have access to a computer and teachers find photographs, videos etc., excellent for helping young people, particularly those with autism, in a whole range of ways, from communication to preparing for educational visits. Sound can be an issue so avoid confusing or particularly loud background noise.
Appetite for digital content
There is a huge appetite for age appropriate quizzes, animations, and interactive timelines particularly. Any digital content has to be creatively and thoughtfully presented with the specific audiences in mind.
If you are looking for inspiration for the learning pages on your website, here are the heritage learning or resource sites that regularly feature in the top ten in appear in my research:
- BBC Primary History
- British Library
- British Museum
- Historical Association
- Thinking history
Scottish schools also have access to the excellent SCRAN site.