A few weeks ago we reviewed other digital learning providers working in heritage organisations in Scotland as part of the Scottish Learning Festival. This review explored other institutions working within the Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland (hereafter DLTSS). But what is the Digital Learning Strategy? What are its main aims? And what are the implications for heritage organisations working with digital technologies? Our research assistant, Hannah Sycamore, summaries the key points of the strategy and concludes by discussing the main areas where heritage organisations can contribute to and benefit from the strategy.
Summary of the Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland
The DLTSS was released in 2016 by the Scottish Government. Prior of this, a Digital Strategy for the whole of Scotland was released in 2011. The DLTSS states its aim is to ensure “that all citizens are included and confident in the digital society that Scotland will become is critical to the future of a fairer Scotland” through digital technology which “can enrich learning and teaching”. The digital provision in Scotland needs to be comprehensive in its approach to “ensure all our learners develop a level of general and specialist digital skills that are so vital for learning, life and work in an increasingly digitised world”. The strategy is structured around four main areas or “objectives” which are: the skills of our educators; access to technology; curriculum and assessment; and leadership. The longevity of DLTSS will “ensure that digital technology is a key consideration in the planning and delivery of all future learning and teaching”.
The core outcomes for the strategy are tied to the Scottish Governments National Improvement Framework and Scottish Education Development Plan. The vision is to achieve excellence through raising attainment and closing the attainment gap, and to achieve equity, ensuring that every child has the same opportunity to succeed. Digital technology is just one tool available to learning professionals to utilise to achieve these goals.
Summary of the four main objectives:
- Develop the skills and confidence of educators in the appropriate and effective use of digital technology to support learning and teaching
Prior to the strategy, Young Scot asked 250 young people from across Scotland aged 11-25. Their general concuss was that the digital resources in their school was low and that teachers lacked knowledge of how to use digital technology. The strategy identifies the skills of educators and learning professionals as a key area for improvement. However, the key point to emphasise is that “the potential lies not in the technology itself but in our educators”. Digital technology is “a powerful, flexible and engaging tool” but only when wielded effectively.
- Improve access to digital technology for all learners
The strategy states that all learners are to benefit from an education enhanced by digital learning. However, access, infrastructure and sustainability of digital technology will all need to be improve and considered. Prior to the strategy, the Children’s Parliament consulted with 92 children from across Scotland aged 8-11. The main comments there that their access to digital technology at school was restricted by the lack of equipment and skills of their teachers. The strategy briefly touches upon the importance of partnerships to improve digital access and skills development opportunities- here perhaps the heritage sector can offer support by entering into partnerships with local education institutions.
- Ensure that digital technology is a central consideration in all areas of the curriculum and assessment delivery
The importance of encouraging the development of digital literacy is clear in our digital world. However, for pupils to “fully benefit from an education enhanced by digital technology” the strategy states that digital technology must “find a place in all curriculum areas”. Cross curricular learning is core to the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence and digital learning is expected to permeate all curriculum areas.
- Empower leaders of change to drive innovation and investment in digital technology for learning and technology.
For digital learning to be used consistently to enhance learning and teaching nationally, leaders at all levels are required to understand the benefits of digital technology. “Leaders” includes head teachers, ELC managers, classroom teachers, ECL practitioners, ICT managers, quality improvement officers, local authority officers and individuals working in the digital sector. Communication is key to ensuring that all these individuals can make an informed decision on how best to use digital technology to support education in their context.
Significantly the strategy states that “it is only by achieving all four of these objectives that we will create optimum conditions for the effective and appropriate use of digital technology to enhance and support education”.
Where does heritage fit into this?
The main areas where the heritage sector can support the DLTSS are: the skills of our educators; access to technology; and leadership.
The heritage sector has always offered educators and learning professionals CLPL (Career Long Professional Learning) and as the sector grows in its provisions and experience of digital technology, it can certainly offer training and sharing experience and skills in using the digital services it offers in the classroom. This is an area of development for our Through a Glass Darkly project too. 3D models are an excellent tool for learning, but learning professionals may require training to gain the most for their pupils.
Equally, the sector can also offer support through encouraging access to technology. This might be through offering specialist digital experiences pupils might not get in schools, such as immersive game experience at the Battle of Bannockburn, or it might be through offering virtual reality experiences, or an education experience through an engaging app. It could also be through working in partnership with local education institutions. As we explored in last week’s blog post, there is a great variety of approaches to digital technology taken by heritage organisations across the sector. Museums and heritage sites can certainly work with local education providers to improve access to digital technology for all learners.
Finally, heritage organisations can offer support to leaders in their area and offer advice on how best to adapt digital technology to their specific context. However, heritage organisations can also be leaders themselves by taking innovative approaches to digital technology and learning. Most museums are looking to invest in one way or another in digital technology. Heritage organisations can share the skills and knowledge they gain from this investment with colleagues across the education sector.