New Scottish Digital Strategy – Some Observations

The Scottish Government recently launched their Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy. This is not the first Scottish Digital Strategy but it builds on previous strategies in an attempt to enhance learning and teaching through the use of digital technology. The strategy implies that digital technology should improve learning and teaching and that things should not remain the same.

The Strategy’s vision is as follows:

The focus is on educational improvement and in delivering the best possible life chances for all young people by raising attainment and by achieving equity.

The aim of the strategy is as follows:

There are strong echoes here of the notion of embedding ICT into the education system, something the Irish digital strategy for schools focused on. The Scottish Strategy emphasises that this will not happen without partnership and it will require the system working together to implement the necessary changes.

The document calls out what each of the educational partners will need to do in order to embed digital technology more into the Scottish educational system and I particularly like the fact that they call out what enhancement might look like.

One of the nice features of the strategy is it gives explicit examples of how technology can enhance aspects of learning and teaching, as often people ask, “How can technology enhance learning and teaching?”. Well here are some suggestions:

The Strategy is specific in that it cites good practice in schools and it names the tools that are enabling the change as in the case of St Andrews RC High School in Fife. Here the use of Office 365 is called out and this is repeated in other sections where tools are mentioned by name.

The Irish digital strategy also references the use e-portfolios, but Scotland are further ahead than we are in this area and we can learn from their experiences.

The Scottish Government commissioned a literature review on the impact of digital technology on learning and teaching, and has been published separately online. This is a most helpful resource for anyone engaged in research in the area.

There is so much in the strategy and I would encourage anyone who has an interest in ICT to read it. I would like to highlight the following graphic, which captures the interconnected nature of ICT integration or Technology-enhanced Learning. For enhancements to succeed they need to be embedded in a context of change as illustrated below:

Final Word

Scotland has long been regarded as a leader in the integration of digital technology into their education system. Many years ago they merged their ICT agency, which was known as SCET, with the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum to create Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS). This sent the message that ICT is not something separate but has a role to play in enhancing learning and teaching. LTS are well down the ICT integration road but the strategy suggests that this process has been slow and the Scottish Government wants to ‘speed it up’ and they want to do this in partnership with the key stakeholders. The strategy seems to be providing a roadmap for local authorities, schools and others to follow and there are strong connections with the Digital Strategy for Schools here in Ireland. This document is very focused on implementation and on the roles and actions key stakeholders need to engage in at both local and national level. This is to be welcomed.

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