Changing face of learning

CIARA PRATT
Last updated 05:00 20/12/2013
Digital Learning

FUTURE LEARNING: Corban Clarke, 9, Fruitvale Primary deputy principal Hine Viskovich and Isla Potini, 10, in the school’s pilot digital classroom.

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We are witnessing an educational revolution.

Walk into a classroom today, it's increasingly common to see students working on computers or electronic tablets.

But what impact is technology having on traditional learning techniques such as handwriting and spelling?

New Lynn's Fruitvale Primary School is among those taking that step into future learning.

This year the school piloted a digital classroom for year 5 and 6 pupils, a learning space where the children predominantly work on their own electronic devices.

Fruitvale's deputy principal Hine Viskovich believes the technology has accelerated learning.

"There are a certain set of essential skills kids have to learn to achieve. That isn't jeopardised, but digital learning is allowing them to do better."

The school doesn't have any hard data yet to judge results but says positive feedback from pupils and parents is only validating the pilot's success.

"We measure our success on the student voice and the kids have been really positive and empowered about the choices they have and they are confident in their own abilities."

Fruitvale's principal Donal McLean is a fan of increasing technology use in schools but says it is tricky on a limited budget.

"Twenty-four hour access is a big one for me, kids can learn wherever they like and they can collaborate on their work."

But aren't tablets distractions in the classroom? Mr McLean doesn't think so.

"There is a high trust in the class and we make sure the school values are pushed."

Fruitvale is not alone with its pilot class. Most schools are now under way with schemes such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and looking at modern learning environments.

Dr Rebecca Jesson from the University of Auckland's school of curriculum and pedagogy looks at the impact of digital literacy and says "there is no evidence" that increased technology use has a detrimental effect on spelling or handwriting.

"These are a necessary but quite small part of learning to read and write. In fact handwriting and spelling are relatively constrained skills that in themselves would not offer enough to be literate in the modern world.

"The use of technology has the potential to require many more higher order skills of children - of finding and retrieving relevant information, reading comprehension, synthesis evaluation and critique of information.

"Schools are looking to prepare their students to be literate and capable in the modern world, just as they always have."

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- Western Leader

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