EDUCATION & SKILLS Continued from Page 50

went to the other secondary pupils and then to the primary schools. All our 1:1 iPads have now been deployed from Primary 7 up to S6,” said Harvey. Te total number of iPads

deployed to date is 50,025 with the roll-out of shared devices in early years due to be completed by March 2021, which will be when the Connected Learning programme will be complete. Teachers and children use a

variety of apps on their iPads, in- cluding Showbie, which instantly distributes documents, images, instructions and comments to an entire class, a group of pupils, or individual pupils. “By using Showbie teachers

could see who was online and actually engaging so the pastoral care teacher could contact anyone who wasn’t – not to admonish them for failing to do their work but to inquire about their well- being and if there was anything the school could do to support them,” said Harvey, adding that even late at night, if pupils were worried about anything they could post a recorded message to the teacher which allowed them to pick up on any issues first thing in the morning.

Other councils have similarly accelerated their digital learn- ing progress, with Scottish Borders Council rolling out its Inspire Learning Programme to all secondary schools and pupils in P6-7 over the summer break, with iPads – used by all teachers and pupils in P6-7 and young people who had just moved up to S1 – delivered directly to pupils’ houses. More than 96 per cent of young

people were able to access learn- ing through the programme with nearly 6,300 pupils having an iPad and a suite of the most up- to-date learning tools. At Cedars School of Excel-

lence, an independent Christian school in Greenock with pupils aged from five to 18, head teacher Fraser Speirs had been a pioneer in the introduction of e-learning. Te former head of comput- ing and IT, who had worked on

More than 50,000 iPads have been deployed in Glasgow’s Connected Learning programme

computer deployments for the Large Hadron Collider at Glasgow University before joining the staff in 2006, ensured that the school was the first in Scotland to have 1:1 learning via iPads. In 2019 he decided to switch to

Chromebook. “While iPads were a very useful educational tool, in- creasing numbers of kids also had a personal iPad which was more or less exclusively used as an enter- tainment device,” he explained. Te school iPad, he said,

was beginning to be seen as an entertainment device, losing its focus for work, which was part of the reason for switching to Chromebook. He also felt that Apple’s commitment to education had waned and that the software, which he concedes is still won- derful, was not keeping up with companies such as Google and Microsoft in terms of collabora- tion and productivity. “Looking at things like G Suite

– rebranded Google Workplace in October – Microsoft Office 365 and so on, both Google and Microsoft are making big ad- vances, but it doesn’t matter what device you come to us from as

52 | FUTURESCOT | WINTER 2020/21

everything – your identity system, documents, applications, email and calendar – is in the cloud.” Te school had just finished

training everybody in Chrome- book work before lockdown happened. “Tat left us in quite a good position as we were already dealing with all the pupils on Chromebook. When I saw the effect of Covid-19 in February and March we had an intense rehearsal of training on Google Meet as to how we used it and how we would use if the school had to close,” he said.

The only piece in the jigsaw those at the school had still to add was the use of Google Meet, Chrome- book’s video conferencing facility. “After that we were able to teach every single timetable lesson we had from 20 March to the sum- mer holidays to the children at home. And while I’m not claim- ing that every single pupil joined every single lesson, I can say that every single lesson took place. And that was a major achieve- ment.” He said there was a lot of discus- sion and thinking at Cedars about

the pedagogical aspects of teaching on video, which are quite differ- ent to teaching in person. “Now that we’re back in doing normal things in school, we do see that the work that was taught that way was not as secure as the learning before lockdown. One challenge is that the quality of cameras and microphones on laptops is not re- ally good enough to capture what happens in the classroom and give a reasonable version of lessons as an online experience for kids at home, and that’s still an unsolved problem,” said Speirs. Tat will be a familiar scenario

as schools across Scotland assess and appraise their digital teaching experience during lockdown. Many have been taken further down the path much faster than they anticipated. However, according to the

World Economic Forum (WEF), even before Covid-19, there was already high growth and adop- tion in education technology, with global edtech investments reaching US$18.66 bn in 2019. Te WEF doesn’t think it’s too dramatic to say that the pandemic has changed education forever. l

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