We hear from Patrick McGrath, EdTech Strategist at Texthelp over a series of blogs that focus on the elements of a successful vision and plan for an effective technology strategy.
A number of years ago I was preparing to send my daughter to her first school. Diligently, I visited a number of schools and listened to each head teacher speak of attainment, of results, of sporting prowess and of past achievements. All of which I wanted to hear. My final headteacher talk was different. He talked about his school with pride, and then proceeded to explain that he couldn’t promise that every pupil would obtain top results or qualify for national level sports. What he could promise though was that the school would provide my daughter with something more important – confidence. In a snap – decision made, this was the school.
Technology aids students in achieving skills to build confidence
Confidence is an essential life skill. A skill that once obtained, can carry our students through their education and throughout life. It doesn’t come naturally to most – but technology can help provide the scaffolds and supports for all to help achieve it. The right tools, the right opportunity and the right activities can create and boost confidence.
Let’s take an example of a fundamental and essential skill that can help build confidence – fluency. Enabling students to understand and be understood. To express themselves in written form and orally.
Technology such as text to speech can help. By simply having text read aloud it can help reduce cognitive load and aid understanding. It can model text and allow students to focus on oral fluency. Dictation can help too – allowing students to practice reading. Translation tools deliver ways for bilingual students to quickly build new vocabulary. Writing supports like prediction can help students be more confident writers. Feedback tools provide encouragement. All of it building fluency and increasing confidence.
These may sound like small things – but when we’re thinking about technology we need to focus on all of the smaller, incremental ways that help students progress. These small gains add up to something bigger. Couple this with strategies that build inclusion to support the diverse range of learners in our classrooms and confidence will follow.
Language, and our ability to express it can be a barrier to many things – it can limit our experiences, our interactions and our understanding. So as we consider any technology plan, think about choosing a breadth of tools that can help with the fundamentals of literacy, how that will support every student to improve and help achieve the aim to build confident learners.
Technology is not just a tool – it’s an enabler. Let’s plan to use it as such.