Creating windows for student expression | Effective use of digital tools in the Infant School
By UWCSEA Foundation
“Digital learning should not be separated from other ways of learning. It is a tool, just like playdough, sand, or paint.”
Seán McHugh, Digital Literacy Coach, UWCSEA Dover
Since the implementation of the extensive digital technology programme throughout UWCSEA in 2010, the College has adopted a view that while technology is important in today’s digital age, it is only relevant if it enhances learning. This has led to implementation of a cutting edge approach to pedagogy and teacher practice within a technology-rich learning environment. Indeed, it was this commitment that saw UWCSEA recognised as an Apple Distinguished School for 2014–2016, and before that named the 21st Century Learning International School of the Year.
Understanding how best to utilise technology for our youngest students is the basis of a new international study currently being carried out by Debi Keyte-Hartland, an educational expert in early years learning. The study, titled ‘Meaning-Making and Digital Languages: Technology as a Creative and Expressive Language’ involves schools in the UK and Sweden as well as UWCSEA in Singapore. The study is examining how digital technology can be used with young children through creative and expressive approaches in an enquiry-based setting, by exploring real, virtual and imaginary contexts including 2D and 3D dimensionality, graphics, sounds, musicality, dance, drama and storytelling. This approach recognises that there are multiple—often simultaneous—ways of seeing and thinking. As a result of our participation, UWCSEA is collaborating with schools around the world, ensuring we are best placed to further embed the appropriate use of technology to support learning throughout the Infant years.
Lynda Scott, Head of Infant School, Dover Campus explains, “Kindergarten to Grade 1 is a unique time for a child’s learning journey. At a time when they are still developing their reading and writing, as well as their verbal communication skills, digital technology can help bridge the gap when it comes to documenting their experiences. For instance by encouraging students to film themselves and their friends playing in the sand and then later narrating what they are doing and why, thinking and learning is made visible. This provides a wonderful window into their world. Other examples include using iPad apps to create stories, keeping an online learning journal or digitally capturing their work and providing their own voice annotations.”
Supported by UWCSEA’s Annual Fund, Debi has run two workshops with Infant staff on Dover this academic year, focusing on how teachers and teacher assistants can use technology to encourage creative expression and enhance the enquiry-based style of learning we embrace in our Infant School. The first focused on developing digital documentation so as to be able to engage parents with students and teachers in a three-way process. By creating more effective tools through which parents can understand their child’s learning journey this not only allows parents to see more of what their child is doing, but also gain a deeper understanding of why they are doing it and gain greater insights into how their child thinks and learns. The second workshop (illustrated in the photo below) examined the use of different forms of digital media and tools within the classroom to enhance curriculum. Both workshops showcased best practice from around the world that have been found to enrich learning.
To complement this work, the Infant School will launch a new platform for sharing learning called SeeSaw in August. Designed to capture the learning journey for K1–G1 students, this innovative app empowers students to independently document what they are learning in school. This will enable parents to be more closely involved in their child’s learning journey, seeing how their child progresses over time, and support this learning at home.
The UWCSEA Annual Fund is managed by UWCSEA Foundation. Gifts of any amount enhance the exceptional experience and high standards of UWCSEA.