Younie (2006) suggests that the UK ICT implementation had many challenges at the micro level such as slow internet and lack of technology in schools. In an international school, this is very much the opposite. We have a plethora of resources available to use with quality internet speed, funding to support new technology initiatives, education technology coaches to support staff and students and access to a number of different platforms for technology. The biggest challenge at the school micro level is that we have comes back to teacher training. With all of this technology and the international school turnover rate, teachers are constantly needing to be trained and upskilled to use the technology we do have effectively. At times, I wonder if so much technology being available to staff can be overwhelming. My role as a technology coach is to support teachers in figuring out what technologies are best for which task to make the learning meaningful and the technology integration enhance their learning.
Thinking from my Canadian experience, it is sometimes challenging for schools to gain buy-in on policies that were created by individuals who are not on the ground working with children and the technology every day. There is often a disconnect between a policy being created at the macro level and practice at the micro level. Policy creating takes time and with the changing of technology so quickly, it is essential that a policy for ICT implementation is created with this mind to allow for innovation and change. It is also important for policies to be reviewed and reflected on a yearly (at minimum) to ensure that what is written fits the needs of what is happening in reality.
I think international schools are unique to government schools as the school has more control over the policies for education. This can be both good and bad. While we don’t have a government creating the policies for us, we do still need to answer to certain governing or accrediting bodies. Firstly, we have our board of directors that oversee what happens in terms of policies in the school. We are accredited by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) as an IB World School as well as EduTrust (Singapore governing body). Our policies and procedures need to meet the needs of all of our accrediting bodies. This can be tedious when each are slightly different while also creating policies that meet the individual needs of our school community. The Singapore government requires are quite different than an inquiry approach for the IBO, which can be challenging when creating policies. WASC and IBO are more similar in their accreditation processes and expectations of evidence, which makes creating policies at the school level easier when the accrediting bodies are aligned.
Our school looks to a lot of other schools who are similar to ours to see what they are doing. This greatly influences our own policies as we combine various policies to meet the needs of our community. While we borrow some, we also have to make sure our policies fit our specific environment and community. Therefore, we are constantly reviewing, adapting and ensuring that our policies are guiding us forward.
We do not have any ICT specific planning documents that we use. For next year, we are generating a large database of appropriate, tested and vetted technology resources for staff that support the different ICT skills in the PYP (International Baccalaureate, 2011) for teachers to reference. If the resource/software is not on the list, then they must apply through a Google Form explaining their rationale for wanting to use the resource and how it would be incorporated into their teaching and learning. This will help us gather more data on how and what teachers are using technology for in their classroom. In addition, our budget serves as an inventory of paid subscriptions and purchases every year. I also create various documents to keep a record of technology resources such as a spreadsheet with the various iPad apps stored on the iPads at different grade levels. Overall, I create a lot of my own planning documents for various tasks to demonstrate how I’m planning out technology integration across the Primary school so it’s been great to see some examples.
International Baccalaureate. (2011). The Role of ICT in the PYP. UK: International Baccalaureate.
Younie, S. (2006). Implementing government policy on ICT in education: Lessons learnt. Education & Information Technologies, 11(3/4), 385-400. doi:10.1007/s10639-006-9017-1