Digitally-Enabled Learning — Intro

As education moves, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the digital world it is becoming increasingly important that leaders understand the challenges and opportunities digital tools, digital technologies and digital resources offer.

This resource aims to help leaders, at every level of education, to explore the ways in which the increasing impact of digital can have on your learning environment. Classroom leaders, subject leaders, senior leaders within schools, colleges and universities as well as those who lead groups of organizations at local, regional and national level can all benefit from the reflections we present.

Our focus is on learning and helping you consider options, actions and ideas that will help learning outcomes develop and improve within your organization.

So whether you are an established Senior Leader, an aspiring Head of a school or subject department, a teacher looking to make the most of digital tools or a governor aiming to understand how to move your school forward, we hope that you will find something useful.

Our style is deliberately less formal and more relaxed. We tried to write the text within this resource in ways that make it easier for busy professionals to gain the most out of it without too much ‘heavy’ reading. This, in part, explains why we have chosen to work through the pseudonym, The Hive Knowledge Group, as some of us are more likely to be seen writing academic papers or governmental publications with more formal formats and restrictions.

We are excited to be able to come together and share our years of experience and combined knowledge in a way that will help you develop your digitally-enabled environment.

Many of us have taught, and been leaders, in schools, colleges and universities. Others in our group have been senior leaders in technology organizations. All of us want to help make education more effective for all learners.

It’s an exciting time to be a leader in education and the impact of digital makes it even more so.

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Digital Leaders

Nobody said leadership was easy. When we take on a leadership role we know that there will be extra work and greater responsibilities involved. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be ‘impossible’ and this resource aims to help you make more effective decisions in the context of a digitally-rich environment.

As a leader you know your organization better than anyone and so we aim to present you with ideas, actions and resources that will help you make use of digital tools and evaluate the impact of the ever growing influence of digital technology within your own context.

We aim to empower you to make digital work for you, your students, staff and the wider community that you serve.

A digital leader needs to understand the ‘how and why’ questions to ask about these new tools and to be able to sift through the ‘digital spin’ to find answers that may actually have a positive impact on learning for students.

Furthermore, digital leaders often need to be strong enough to overcome a variety of technological ‘barriers’ and ‘must-haves’ to ensure that the right approach is taken.

We present examples from our work across a range of organizations to help you build a case for your digital innovation.

Over time, we hope to present further examples from those who use this resource as well as our ever-growing portfolio of projects.

Our aim is to take a detailed look at a wide variety of educational organizations who are in different stages of their journey towards a more digitally-enabled learning environment.

We want to understand the ups and downs involved, the benefits and barriers they have observed and to be able to share valuable lessons with other educational organizations.

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Introducing this resource

We believe that the term ‘digitally-enabled’ accurately reflects the journey that many organizations take in their development of the use of digital tools, technologies and resources.

It is rare to find an organization that suddenly, in one go, makes perfect use of digital tools in all aspects of their operations. Most, probably all, will gradually introduce elements of digital into different aspects of their learning, teaching and administrative work.

This resource aims to empower your decision making so that you can gain the most effective outcomes from the time, money, people and other resources at your disposal.

This “Digitally-Enabled Learning” handbook and website contains sections that aim to help you develop specific aspects of your digital development. 
Each of the sections, outlined below, explores specific areas of digital leadership and are informed by a vast wealth of experience and knowledge garnered over the years.

Having a vision for how learning and teaching will be developed is a key part of being a leader. The section on developing a vision for the use of digital takes a look at the structure that a vision may take, some of the ways in which your vision could be informed and what to include within that vision.

It’s all very well having a vision but at some point a leader needs to do things to achieve it. This is where developing a strategy takes centre stage. Your strategy needs to take into account a variety of factors, including student population, cultural context, staff, budget etc. You also need to measure its progress and be ready to modify the strategy in response to both internal and external events.

Learning and Teaching
Without learning gains why use any tool? Too often bright colours, fancy graphics and quirky presentations convince educators to invest in tools or resources that fail to have a significantly positive impact on learning. In this section we will explore ways in which digital technologies, tools and resources can help improve learning outcomes.

Teaching Computing as a subject, especially ‘computational thinking’, is becoming ever more an important part of the school curriculum around the world. We look at some of the reasons behind this growing trend, explore how to introduce Computer Science and consider some of the lessons learnt from the past.

Change Management
Moving an organization towards a more successful future can often be challenging. For educational institutions change management can be complex, sometimes frustrating but, when successful, very satisfying. We explore some ways in which you can make your change process more effective and sustained.

Often one of the most important considerations in your planning, budgets can be constraining or enabling, depending on how you approach them. In this section we will consider budget models, gleaned from work carried out on numerous projects, and discuss how to plan your budget for a digitally-rich future.

Digital Technologies, Tools and Resources
This section explores the ways in which digital tools, technologies and resources can support improved learning. We discuss how you may want to evaluate new digital products based on a set of simple criteria that are focused on learning outcomes rather than technology features.

Developing a Technology Infrastructure
A great vision and well-planned strategy will come to nought if the technology does not work when it is needed. One of the major factors in digital adoption is confidence in the technologies being deployed and this section considers how you can build this rock-solid, available-when-needed technology platform.

Managing Digital Environments
Let’s face it, we’re dealing with digital technology and sometimes, hopefully not too often, it will go wrong.

With effective management, policies and practices you can reduce problems, assess effectiveness and make more informed decisions.

We discuss the people you need, both educational and technical, to make your vision a reality and provide information about effective policies and practices that have produced success elsewhere.

Digitally-Enabled Spaces
One of the exciting opportunities that open up when you start to digitally-enable your organization is the ability to re-imagine the spaces in which effective learning and teaching takes place.

In this section we explore some of the ideas being developed and how various organizations have begun to make changes in their spaces.

Effective procurement can help reduce budget and technology management issues so it is important to ensure that your procurement processes make sense. In this section we explore what makes good procurement and why.

Some future thoughts
This section explores the future and trends that may inform your thinking, whether they are educational, societal or technological.

We will explore the world that a young person, just entering the school system today will find when they leave education in fifteen years time and beyond. Thinking about this world, rather than the one we currently inhabit, helps inform ideas about the nature of education and its impact on future society.

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Digitally-Enabled Sharing

One of the aims of this resource is to share best practice and ideas from around the world in order to enable you to make judgements about their relevance to your organization.

So we hope that at the end of each section of this resource you will feel comfortable sharing some thoughts and ideas with others.

We will collate all the thoughts and ideas shared and present the key ideas, statements and comments, anonymously, for everyone else to see on our web site and in future iterations of this resource.

For this section please share with others:

Share one barrier which is currently holding you back from using digital more effectively within your organization

Click on the text above to share your thoughts.