Southbank International Schools – The Power of Technology
14 Jan 2019
The use of technology in classrooms is not new. For many years, teachers have had access to computers, tablets, and interactive displays. However, in many cases, these devices are used to replicate tasks previously completed without any modern technology. Smartboards replaced whiteboards, word processing replaced the notebook, and lesson planning moved to a digital form.
Researchers have defined this use of technology as being a substitution for previous use cases. There was no functional change from what previous technologies offered. Evidence has shown that in order for technology to be truly transformative, it should modify the task design and allow for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable.
At Southbank International School, our Hampstead campus was recently recognised as an Apple Distinguished School for our innovative use of technology to transform teaching, learning, and the school environment. Our Apple Distinguished School story outlines how teachers and students are taking advantage of technology to redefine the learning experience.
In physical education, learners use a combination of software and hardware to record their tennis serves or gymnastics routines. They are able to compare themselves against a teacher example and analyse how they can improve their performance.
Digital Learning is able to have a transformative effect on the way that teachers provide equitable access to learning materials for all students. Our language learners take advantage of built-in accessibility features of iPad to access the curriculum. By using dictation and voice tools, learners can practice pronunciation of vocabulary words. Through Siri, learners can quickly get a translation to another language.
Technology gives all children the power to be creators. They are able to create products and share their learning in ways previously unimaginable. During an inquiry into migration, Spanish mother-tongue students research famous explorers. They wrote and directed a short stop-motion movie to highlight the impact of the explorers.
When working on shared projects, learners use technology as they share responsibility and make decisions. Using AirDrop, groups can quickly share files between devices. Using collaboration tools on Google Docs and Pages, learners can easily collaborate on the same document in real-time. Throughout the Exhibition, the cultivating project of the PYP, learners work together on a project of interest. Shared documents give them ubiquitous access to their files as they collaborate from home and at school.
Assessment and feedback
Every child at Southbank uses Seesaw to collate a digital learning portfolio. Through their Seesaw journal, learners and teachers can add examples of work using a variety of formats, including photos of work from notebooks, photos, videos, and screen and voice recordings. Each child’s journal follows them throughout the school and provides an authentic view of their progress over time. The ability to connect family members to a Seesaw portfolio allows parents to have a window to their child’s learning.
Seesaw also allows teachers to give timely feedback to students to share what they have done well in a piece of work and how it could be improved. This feedback can be given as a text comment or as a voice note. Our learners have identified that voice comments are a more effective and personal way of receiving feedback on their work.
In addition to receiving feedback on their work, Seesaw allows students to become more reflective learners and encourages them to reflect. Students develop metacognition by reflecting on their learning process and identifying what went well in their work and how they could improve it. Peers are also able to see each other’s work and can easily peer-assess their classmates’ work.