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Branksome Hall News

Technology-Enhanced Learning Pilot Study in the Junior School

The integration of technology in education has become a transformative shift in how learning is facilitated and experienced. This digital integration extends beyond tools for instruction; it has reshaped educational environments, teaching methodologies and student interactions. To better prepare for this shift, the Chandaria Research Centre has conducted a pilot study to understand the impact of technology-enhanced learning, specifically in the Junior School. 
The research team employed an observational approach, immersing themselves in Junior School classes from Kindergarten to Grade 6, the iHub and the PYP Exhibition. The research documented student interactions and behaviors with technology, complemented by photographs of classroom settings and student projects. The study also involved interviews with teachers and staff for a deeper and more personalized understanding of technology-enhanced learning.

The pilot study revealed several considerations for ensuring technology-enhanced learning leads to feelings of competence, autonomy and relatedness among students and teachers. 

For example, levels of student engagement and enjoyment were notable during lessons enhanced with digital tools, leading to a more interactive and personalized learning experience. However, the study also brought to light that students have varying levels of technology literacy. This disparity presented both challenges (in ensuring equitable learning opportunities) and opportunities (for peer-led learning, where tech-savvy students can aid their less experienced peers). Technology also allowed students to take on projects that aligned more with their curiosities and identities, and offered new ways to conceptualize and problem solve.

In the technology-enhanced classroom, teachers must be self-starters and interested in personally experimenting with new technologies. These efforts should be supplemented with structured professional development time and resources for technology exploration. This will provide teachers with more confidence with open-ended learning approaches, which contrasts with the norm to have predictability in student learning. 

When interacting with students, teachers who are transparent about their tech expertise often build more trust in the classroom. Troubleshooting issues with students also enhances teachers’ understanding of students’ personalities, values and learning preferences. Teachers can promote responsible technology use by serving as role models in self-regulation with devices, and by offering deliberate lessons on ethics and privacy tied to technology. 

Looking forward, the findings from this pilot uncovered the following recommendations for Branksome Hall:

Applied Recommendations
  • Be cognizant of the number of tools and technological changes introduced to teachers, and promote exploration and mastery of a core selection of tools.
  • Teachers who excel with technology or specific digital tools should consider identifying themselves as peer leaders and provide formal or informal mentorship to less experienced teachers.
  • Space and time (i.e., during PD days) should be set aside for exploratory learning of tools. Collaborations between peer leaders, administration and iHub staff can benefit this effort.
  • Inappropriate use of technology is rare among Junior School students, but discussions should be had around the normalization and necessity of having students document and post their work to digital spaces, particularly content where students are identifiable.
  • Teachers should continue to use technology for augmenting skill development among students, but supplement with time for important foundational and physical skills such as using pencils and other physical tools, spelling and grammar, and file organization.

Research Recommendations

  • Explore the prevalence of themes discussed by pilot participants across the school to gain a broader picture of technology use and implementation across JK–12 as issues at various ages may be significantly different.
  • Collaborate with teachers to study the effectiveness of technology on student learning outcomes.
  • Explore teachers’ perceptions regarding the most effective professional development approaches for building technological competence.
  • Further explore how technology can be used to support students with different learning needs.
  • Examine whether in-person Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills transfer to digital learning.
See the study infographic for more.
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LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT
We wish to acknowledge this land on which Branksome operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and go to school on this land.

Setting the new standard for girls' education everywhere takes collective action. From all of us.
 
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