There can be no escaping the impact that Technology has had on Education over the past twenty years. Schools were initially, and naturally, a tad apprehensive of embracing the philosophy of Technology revolutionising the nature of education, due to the significant financial investment into the required hardware and software required to fulfil such a technological ‘utopia’. No doubt persuaded by the mantra of:
“when faced with a steam-rolling technology, you either become part of the technology or part of the road”.
The Cransley pupils, the ‘Digital Natives’, (as opposed to the ‘Digital Immigrants’ description associated with people of my age) enjoy and flourish in an information landscape that would have been unimaginable when most of us were in School, and it dwarfs, by comparison. the experiences they now have in their classrooms. Their information experience puts them in control, gives them information that becomes a raw material for new information experiences. It connects them to wings instead of anchors.
A perfect classroom would be more like a global trolley car, in which teachers and pupils can visit places all over the world and visit any time that has been sufficiently documented.
One could argue that such an educational culture is indeed a technological and educational utopia!
And yet, during last week’s Safer Internet Day, we were reminded of the pitfalls, dangers and misuse of Technology. Technology that our pupils have at their fingertips via their mobile phones, laptops, iPad’s, PC’s and X boxes that places them in a vulnerable position should they be ignorant of the potential unpleasant nature of social media.
Internet pornography, sexting, online grooming and cyberbullying appear to be prolific. Combined with the development of such unkind Apps such as Sarahah, recently described as ‘a breeding ground for hate’ provides a hazardous technological landscape for our pupils.
Having a fundamental awareness of how to use technology safely and maturely and the importance of engaging online in a manner that supports the Cransley value of ‘nurturing relationships’ is an extremely important facet of a Cransley School education. Such issues form an integral aspect of our PSHE syllabus.
On Monday of last week, Mr Pollock used a Senior School Assembly to deliver a thought provoking message of appropriate online behaviour, offset by a supportive attitude towards technology and our obligations as a School to strive to ensure that their online experience is a happy and safe one.
I followed up with the theme of Cyberbullying at my School Assembly on Thursday morning. The content and message were deliberately constructed to be hard hitting to reinforce a very strong message of behaving kindly and sensitively when engaging with others online. ‘Nurturing relationships’.
Of significance was my reference to any perception of ‘anonymity’ online. The laws relating to inappropriate and hurtful behaviour online are currently in the process of being reviewed by Parliament to afford a degree of protection to those individuals on the receiving end of such damaging conduct. Serious breaches of online behaviour are always traceable.
My personal view regarding the use of technology for our pupils is ‘Education rather than Regulation’. Technology is a wonderful tool that, if used safely and sensibly, can enhance the learning experience of our pupils and increase their social and recreational enjoyment of technology.