Native intelligence

Linda LaPine reflects on the benefits of using mobile technology to engage with students brought up in the digital age

Today’s students are digital natives. Born in the age of the internet and online technology, they possess valuable skills that will contribute to the future wealth of society. However, education still needs to hone students’ digital skills to help them realise their full potential, not only at higher education level, but also in the world of work.

Mobile technology is embedded into the fabric of the curriculum at ACS Hillingdon International School, ensuring students are prepared for the future and ready to use their skills creatively, safely and responsibly. Introducing a one-to-one iPad programme, for example, showed that technology can encourage students to be active participants in their learning; they can research, record and create media-rich projects. Teachers can also create unique, curriculum-specific resources for pupils, catering for all different types of learners. A reluctant reader may be more motivated to explore a novel if they can invent and create a particular setting using an application like iMovie or Explain Everything Book Creator, rather than by producing a 2D drawing.

By embracing technology, students can engage with a world of knowledge at their fingertips. The school has a room equipped with a working film studio, including front and back cameras and two large, wall-mounted LCD screens, allowing classes to connect to the wider world as a group and in real time. Leveraging the power of mobile technology, students in the middle school participated in a live exchange with classes in the USA to discuss films they watched together.

ACS students enjoy film-making

While advanced digital skills are becoming increasingly essential in all we do, educators must ensure that these skills are developed safely and responsibly. Students should be fully aware of their responsibilities as digital citizens, and with the issues of online safety more pressing than ever, ACS Hillingdon’s digital citizenship programme helps foster an understanding of individual responsibility and how and where to get help and advice.

A reluctant reader may be more motivated to explore a novel if they can invent and create a particular setting using an application like iMovie or Explain Everything Book Creator

The school also teaches digital literacy at all grades, equipping students to search, find, evaluate and utilise appropriate information effectively. A team approach is taken, with teachers, counsellors, librarians, integrationists, parents and students working together to provide a cohesive voice.

Students are also encouraged to interact with and embrace digital technology in different and creative ways. ACS Hillingdon’s Advanced Technology Club, for example, is a group of high school students who meet once a week to develop innovative technology projects. Last year they took on an ambitious project to create the world’s largest iPad wall – using 100 iPads to create a giant screen, which could stream images in real time.

As part of the project students enhanced their technology skills, writing the code behind the wall and designing its unique structure. Through this project students also developed vital life skills such as teamwork, leadership abilities, presentation skills and problem solving. The club encourages young people to develop and hone their digital skills in a practical and enjoyable way, with the aim that they finish school with advanced digital skills, which will enhance their employability.

Students with their iPads

The club was also invited to showcase students’ achievements and a modified version of the iPad wall using 48 tablets to over 400 international delegates at the Apple Leadership Summit in London. Lower and middle school students joined the presenting team, using technology to create a piece of real-time art. Students collected more than 700 photos of the school environment shot using a microscopic lens attached to their iPads, the photos were then streamed on the iPad wall during the summit. Using their iPads as part of this project, students (some as young as six years old) enhanced all four of the crucial ‘c’ skills – collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity.

Embedding technology into the classroom provides extended learning opportunities for today’s iGeneration, enhancing their educational experiences and preparing them for the rapidly evolving digital world.

Linda LaPine is head of school at ACS Hillingdon International School: www.acs-schools.com/acs-hillingdon    

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