I think the affordances of technology often are dependent on the tool, the person and the context but technology provides us with so many affordances in educational settings. My school context has a BYOD Macbook school from Year 7 and above. This allows students to have the affordance to access information from their personal laptop from both home and school (Conole and Dyke, 2004). However, our Year 3 to Year 6 students have a class set of laptops that remain at school. This makes it challenging when students don’t automatically have the affordance to access their work from the same device and rely on cloud-based sharing to be able to access their work from a home device. There is the assumption that students have the affordance of accessibility at home sometimes in these grades to continue work even.
One of the technology resources our school uses is Google Apps for Education. This suite of applications provide us with so affordances. Gmail provides us with the ability to communicate quickly, easily and in an organised manner. Though because of this, I find myself often checking to make sure I don’t have any messages and respond promptly when I can (This leads to both positive and negative connotations as mentioned in Conole & Dyke, 2004). The Google Docs and Presentations provide students with the ability to create and the affordance to collaborate. They can access so much information for their presentations and work through online that students become curators in addition to consumers and creators.
With so many digital tools, my students are constantly creating multimodal presentations to showcase their understanding. App-smashing and digital storytelling have become a way of developing high-order thinking as students create, evaluate and reflect.
While our school has access to quite a substantial amount of technology, it does not mean everyone is using it as effectively as possible. In terms of technology usage, our school emphasises it be used only when it is authentic and enhances the student learning experience. However, with the rate of changes in technologies, it is hard for teachers to stay current at all times and feel confident using unfamiliar tools.
The policy document for our international school covering ICT is called "ICT, phone and social media". This document covers the main campus K-12 school, east campus K-6 school and two local kindergartens. This purpose of the policy is “to ensure the effective and proper usage of the computer systems within the school and protect employees and school from litigation associated with inappropriate use of ICT, phone and social media.” (School policy, 2015).
The policy focuses more on operational expectations of teachers while use technology in education settings. In addition, we have an acceptable use policy for teachers, students and parents to further explain the expectations of each stakeholder for technology used for the purpose of learning. The policy outlines provides a framework of expectations. Within that, hardware and software are purchased, implemented and maintained for the benefit of student learning.
Technology has numerous advantages that extends beyond just student learning in an educational setting. The policy clearly states that ICT resources are provided to staff in order to support the teaching, learning, research, administrative and business activities of the school. The usage of ICT in teaching and learning provides the students with a 21st-century approach to learning.
I was surprised when I read back that it focused so heavily on the guidelines and boundaries of using ICT instead of how to use it for teaching and learning. However, once those are in place, the ability to explore technology integration within the framework becomes more manageable for students and teachers.
One thing I really appreciate about our school’s approach to technology integration is that there is no one person who has a say of what resources get implemented. There are tools such as ManageBac, PowerSchool and Google Apps that have been implemented on a whole school scale and mandated but to get to that point, there was a lot of input and research to make those decisions. Similarly, when staff want to purchase software, there is a process of bringing it to the IT committee composed of administration from all divisions, Head of School, Director of Administration as well as our 2 IT staff and 2 EdTech teachers. This helps to ensure that various perspectives are seen and discussed before a discussion is made to see if the new software is the best fit for existing systems and for student learning. The committee meets biweekly for the entire morning.
Conole, G. and M. Dyke (2004). What are the affordances of information and communication technologies?ALT-J 12(2): 113-124.
School Policy (2015). QP64 - ICT, Phone and Social Media. [internal document]