Agenda: Students from Glasgow are more linked than ever before.

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Via Claire Harvey

The pandemic has altered many facets of our lives, but major attempts have been made to keep things as normal as possible for our young people. There were no obstacles for schools around Glasgow to look forward to in 2020, as Covid-19 deprived all of us of a daily classroom.

However, as we have seen in many aspects of our lives, the use and application of technology has become more and more obvious, in none more than in the classroom or at the kitchen table.

The significant milestone of equipping the whole city with 50,000 iPads and related Apple help for teachers and parents has recently been achieved. Each student and their teachers in grades 7 through 6 are now better linked than ever before.

Before the onset of the coronavirus, Glasgow City Council’s digital strategy was built and is rooted in a desire to empower our young people with digital skills and trust for their future.

In 2016, our Digital Learning Strategy Group was founded with the intention of enhancing student success, cultivating leaders in education, and collaborating with parents. At the root of our goals was learning, not technology.

Thanks to the pandemic, we accelerated our plans and completed the rollout a year ahead of time, partially out of necessity, but mainly due to a great collaboration between teachers, parents, and young students. This was a path, however, which we were already on, and its influence would be felt for decades to come.

Our emphasis should be on what technology helps our learners and teachers to do – and how digital learning can enrich education. Think of young people with additional support needs or others who may not have English as their first language. We are able to communicate with these young people on an equal basis by using an iPad, specifically chosen for its usability.

The use of technology should be seen in the light of long-term socio-economic benefits that open up new opportunities for our young people, level the playing field and create even greater versatility both within and outside the classroom. Technology encourages imagination – and it is well known that when a young person becomes more involved and is able to personalize their learning, achievement increases.

We also realized that because of new equipment, the strategy would not only succeed, but that we needed to ensure that our devoted teachers and supportive parents and caregivers were on board. In each school, we established the role of Digital Leader of Learning, who now collaborates across the city and shares information and experiences in ways never before possible. We have also developed easy-to-use parent guides so that learning and teaching can proceed as easily at home as in the classroom.

As an example of how we can help children and young people become digital citizens and develop skills for the future, our approach is seen around the world. We have some of the best hardware and applications available, but for decades to come, it takes everybody pulling together to do something that will help Glasgow.

Claire Harvey is Glasgow City Council Council’s quality enhancement officer responsible for digital learning.

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