Spotlight on Digital Learning

A year and a half since the launch of the Pupil Digital Device scheme, the use of digital devices has become embedded in day-to-day life at Colfe’s and the benefits are now widely apparent. Here we take a look at how the devices are used to enrich pupils’ learning, and explore what’s next for teaching and learning strategies.

The digital device scheme initially introduced Microsoft Surface devices for pupils in Years 7 and 12 in September 2022, followed by a wider Senior school roll-out at the start of the 2023-24 academic year. Microsoft Teams is used for sharing teaching resources, setting and submitting homework assignments and communication between teachers and pupils, with OneNote used as an integrated online version of an exercise books.

Our digital-native generation of pupils have, unsurprisingly, embraced the technology, while teachers have also been pleased with the smooth assimilation of the devices into classwork and independent study.

One of the biggest benefits has been to improving organisation; pupils can access resources and homework quickly and easily and can see assignments and class notes at a glance, as well as enabling a reduction in carrying around heavy bags of exercise and textbooks, a feature that has proved especially popular for both teachers and pupils alike.

“It has helped with organisation, I don’t have to carry around a large number of pages and notes since it’s all stored on the surface, and it is really helpful to have all the class materials so easily accessible.” Abubakar, Year 13

The devices have also enabled teachers to provide greater flexibility, allowing differentiation and extension work in lessons, while quizzes can be used effectively to gauge a class’s understanding, ensuring lessons are pitched at the right level.

“It’s been really helpful as you can use it to do challenges at the end of lessons if you’ve finished your work.” Preston, Year 8

The ‘inkability’ of the Surfaces is an enormous benefit, enabling pupils to annotate diagrams, add notes to text, and even use their devices as mini whiteboards to share work. Advancement in technology does not come at the expense of core skills, however; pupils continue writing by hand, both on paper and using the digital pen directly on the Surface, an occupation that  is so important for comprehension and creative thinking as well as for maintaining good penmanship.

Director of Teaching and Learning Jo Sansome said:

“We continually research, monitor and implement best practice in all aspects of our teaching and learning, and using the Surfaces has shown just one way that technological advances can enhance learning.

“An area of particular focus now is developing study and revision skills. We are working closely with students to help them develop essential skills such as organisation, motivation and effective revision techniques, and how to apply them to different subjects.

“Embedding good study habits early is a fundamental part of our approach throughout school and forms a key part of day-to-day teaching, but what makes this special is incorporating this into specific subject lessons. We now aim to enhance study and revision skills within each specific subject so that pupils will naturally see the link between the theory of what we recommend, how it works in practice for each subject, and how they can effectively apply it themselves.

“Finally, the continued professional development of our teaching staff is essential to ensure teachers in every department can be confident of delivering the highest quality teaching. With a focus on an evidence-based approach at all times, our teachers have a full day training at the start of each term, further training sessions during each half-term and ongoing inter-departmental collaboration throughout the year. Through our staff training programmes, courses can also be linked so a teacher could choose to specialise in a particular topic across the year, such as a particularly challenging aspect of classroom practice, or whether pupils’ research skills are more effectively developed through completing mini-tasks or a single large project, to name just two recent examples.”

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