Transforming Learning – Global Education Technology Summit 2010
Managing change was one of the central themes that emerged from the Global Education Technology Summit (GETS) held July 14–17, 2010, in Calgary, Canada. Supported by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, GETS 2010 was an excellent opportunity for leaders in education, government and business to share their experiences in implementing technology in the world’s classrooms. Represented were diverse countries such as Argentina, Finland, the Czech Republic, Malta, the UK, South Africa, the United States and Canada. Hosted by SMART, the summit was a welcome and open forum for sharing best practices on effectively managing the changes in teaching practice needed to enhance students’ learning through classroom technology.
When presenters shared the challenges and achievements of their implementations, many commonalities became apparent. Despite separation by oceans, continents and points on the technology adoption curve, all agreed on the need for an overarching implementation strategy, frequent and consistent communication with stakeholders, trustworthy monetary support, quality content and curriculum creation and, perhaps most importantly, thorough and specific professional development for teachers.
Doug Brown, the director of ICT policy and implementation for BECTA, oversaw the implementation of technology in 23,000 schools throughout the UK during his 30-year career. “Developing good ICT policy is never about the technology itself,” he said. “It’s about putting into place the foundation necessary to create more effective learning and teaching.” He predicted that with the increasing presence of classroom technology, “the role of the teacher will change – teachers will be more important than ever before.”
This sentiment was echoed by the Czech Republic’s Milan Hausner, principal of the Junior Language School in Prague. He and his team of 40 teachers began implementing technology in the 600-student school in 1999, and they now have interactive whiteboards and other interactive student-centered technology products in each of their 27 classrooms. Much of their success, he stated, is due not to the hardware or software implemented, but rather to the teachers’ preparation and methodology, and to teacher training taking place just prior to, or simultaneously with, implementation.
Dr. Grace Grima, Director General, Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education in Malta, also emphasized teacher preparation as she described her country’s process of transforming its 120 public schools into technology-enhanced learning centers for 40,000 students. “We are concentrating on pedagogy over technology,” she said. “Technology alone won’t do it.” Teacher training, to her, is central to successful change, and it must be keyed to individual needs. To that end, the directorate focuses on one-to-one training and in-school coaching for teachers. “We have found it’s important to have someone in the classroom providing support when it’s needed,” she explained.
For Kobus van Wyk, the manager of the Khanya project in South Africa’s Western Cape province, the past nine years have seen him and his team implement technology in 1,377 of the province’s 1,500 schools, impacting over 25,000 teachers and nearly 900,000 learners. The implementation included over 40,000 desktop computers and 2,300 interactive whiteboards. Their goal over the next five years is to install an interactive whiteboard in every Western Cape classroom. Van Wyk said that the project’s success is reflected in higher levels of literacy, which he attributes to pedagogy and professional development focused on teaching using interactive whiteboard technology products.
The GETS panelists and presenters share responsibility for the transformation of learning for a large percentage of the world’s children. All agreed that with sound change management, practical and extensive professional development and thoughtful selection of classroom technology, learning can achieve that transformation. “Research…shows us,” said Doug Brown in his closing remarks, perhaps best summing up the theme of the summit, “schools with good ICT resources and good instruction have better results.”
Following are materials from the GETS presentations by Doug Brown, Milan Hausner, Grace Grima and Kobus van Wyk.