Five tips for embracing digital change in your classroom

The Mind Lab has spent the last three years supporting Kiwi teachers and schools with the integration of the new digital technologies curriculum. It’s 2020 and that time has come, but schools are still struggling to get up to speed.

Damon Kahi, The Mind Lab’s National Technologist, has five tips for embracing this change efficiently and effectively:

1. Read the curriculum

In a lot of schools, one person, or a very small team, has been put in charge of understanding the new digital technologies curriculum and integrating it into existing practices. 

That’s a great pity because ultimately, curriculums are about outcomes. If every teacher individually read the curriculum and clearly understood the outcomes, they could take ownership of their classroom and be more creative, innovative and more involved in what and how they taught. That would be a way less daunting process all round.

2. Understand the terminology

Using tech terminology accurately comes with an understanding of how that technology works. That’s really key. That’s what unlocks the digital curriculum. 

Schools are quick to buy a robot to be more technological, without understanding the systems thinking that goes into creating and manipulating the robot.  And if you’re not sure on the process or the thinking, then that’s an excellent place to start – acknowledge what you don’t know, then discover and explore it with your students.

Ultimately, the goal is to promote learning as opposed to remembering, so be open to sometimes being a student in your own classroom.

3. Collaborate

There is no need to do it all yourself. Find out what team members or other schools are doing and then share resources, videos and lesson plans. You’ll get to focus on what you’re good at and interested in, taking the fear and dread out of change and adding joy and passion. It’s crucial for schools to collaborate with other schools, in person and/or remotely for added input and ideas.

You can also collaborate with your own students – if a student shows a passion and deep understanding of a topic, let him/her lead the topic and you can join in the learning. 

Collaboration is after all a necessary skill and outcome of the new curriculum. So get practising and experience its benefits; particularly the benefit of more time – because we know all teachers could do with more time.

4. Use what you’ve got

Literally, whatever lesson plans you have. Take the keystone bridge lesson for teaching structures as an example – merely adding a micro bit to measure forces makes it part of the new curriculum.

And it’s not all up to you, ask your students if they can think of ways that an everyday process could be enhanced by technology. Together you can then create a solution. All at once they’re exploring, collaborating, evaluating and creating sustainable solutions – the digital curriculum in a nutshell.

5. Start a conversation

No matter the age or year level of your students, try to create a classroom space that is interactive, curious and connects students with the real world. If there is a new gadget craze, bring it into the classroom and discuss how it works, what makes it popular and how the craze spread, and if a similar thing existed in the past.

The new curriculum promotes continuous learning; teachers should set the example by being curious learners too.

You know better than anyone how fast these kids are changing. The Mind Lab’s Postgraduate Certificate in Digital and Collaborative Learning gives teachers agency to pivot their pedagogy. It’s a classroom game changer.

Build your confidence in the Digital Curriculum and make your classroom part of their world.

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