by Becki Bawler, WomenEdTech Leader for Wales
Back in September 2016, the Welsh Assembly Government published the Digital Competence Framework in response to reviews conducted over a couple of years about the role of ICT from an independent panel and also a substantial component of the Donaldson Review, from which the new Welsh curriculum is being developed currently.
The framework is non statutory and was given a year to develop across schools before being added to with classroom based ideas developed by pioneer schools. Over last year and this year, the DCF continues to be embedded into school teaching across all key stages. It is not assessed, nor does it replace the ICT national curriculum, and Estyn will not be inspecting based on it (although they will start to look for evidence of it) and it will continue to develop in line with the development of the new Welsh curriculum over the next couple of years.
Most schools in Wales now have a lead for the DCF, but the content of that role varies from school to school. In some schools it naturally fell to the ICT department, in others it was purposefully moved away from the ICT teachers. The role also included all or some of the following aspects: technical and infrastructure reviews, staff audits, training sessions, scheme of work audits, development of DCF appropriate “tasks” etc.
I have been DCF coordinator since September 2016, in two different schools and both in conjunction with my role as an ICT teacher (now Lead Teacher for ICT/CS) but have developed the content of my role to fit the needs of the school, which is most important element of this framework in my opinion.
So, what to do first? A quick audit of IT skills across the staff is essential along with getting heads of departments to complete the audit tool that is available on the Learning Wales website. This audit tool may need a bit of talking through and further explanation but it works are a benchmark. http://learning.gov.wales/resources/browse-all/digital-competence-framework/?lang=en
The four strands of the DCF are quite neatly divided, and the one that is most commonly found in schools is the Producing Strand, the actual planning, creating and reflecting on activities using technology – in fact this is the only strand that requires any use of technology at all! This is arguable the easiest to start with in terms of monitoring across the curriculum. It includes a range of classroom tasks but in addition to this I have used INSET time to get staff to work together in cross curricular areas to think about other ideas for producing. Whilst there are links back to the 2008 Skills Framework, particular the PLAN, DO, REFLECT ideas, the DCF has clear expectations of what our young people should be able to do across the year groups. This has been my focus since September, trying to encourage staff to start developing their use of technology with classes, above and beyond using them as a research tool and simple presentations or documents. This month I have challenged all staff to RiskIT and try something new in terms of their use of technology and I am looking forward to seeing what they have done! With both pupil digital leaders now in place and volunteer staff digital leaders also beginning to work with me to promote digital skills I can see this aspect developing into a strong area in the school.
I have also tackled the Citizenship strand as this also includes some great links to Common Sense Media’ resources. If you haven’t used https://www.commonsensemedia.org before then you are missing out – yes, the videos are quite American but the content is great and regularly updated, plus it is free! I have adapted the lesson activities to run in the form time sessions we have (20 mins, 3 times a week) and this then ensures at least a basic coverage of the citizenship strand, with development happening in lessons when appropriate. Next for this strand is to create some simple reminders and tips for staff to incorporate into their lessons when using technology.
The final two strands are
- Interaction and Collaboration and
- Data and Computational Thinking.
Personally, I have left these two relatively undeveloped at the moment, so the focus can be on the other two areas, but within my ICT lessons I have begun to use collaboration more, particularly through our use of G-Suite for Education and Google Classroom, and also apps such as Padlet. I have also started to incorporate more computational thinking into my own lessons and will be developing these two areas more over the summer term.
For me, the next step is to consider the best way to collate pupil evidence of work done across the DCF in all subjects, apps such as Seesaw could be the way, or a shared area on a server or cloud system for pupils to store work to. Wales also has the Hwb, all Wales learning platform with Office 365 tools (check it out via https://hwb.gov.wales) and this also can be a great system to develop a lot of the DCF in schools so I need to work with staff to develop this system alongside our use of G-Suite. Finally it is to continue working with my digital leaders, both the pupil ones and the staff ones, to promote digital competence across the school.
Using the DCF as a focal point for technology in Wales seems to be a great start point for WomenEd_Tech here, and I’ll add more blog posts about each of the strands in turn plus ideas for collating pupil work over the next few months. Technology mustn’t be feared or avoided, but there are barriers to using it, such as knowledge, infrastructure, connection issues and time to both plan and deliver lessons in a curriculum that is already pretty full and, particularly in secondary schools, very exam focused. Sharing resources, ideas and networking is definitely the best way to improve the use of technology across schools and hopefully together we can do that!
I’ve been teaching since 2003, having spent a couple of years prior to this in the “real” world. Since qualifying I have taught a range of subjects across the 11-18 range, languages, Psychology, Religious Education being the main ones. I implemented a whole school iPad strategy whilst teaching RE and then, to fill a staffing need, began teaching ICT full time five years ago. I have been in my current school as Lead Practitioner for ICT, Computer Science and DCF since September and am loving it! Having taught a range of subjects previously, I think it makes the role of DCF coordinator much easier for me as I am able to think of concrete examples of how and when technology can be used across the curriculum and support teachers as they take a risk with ICT. Technology isn’t something I have ever worried about using and hope that my enthusiasm comes across to my colleagues! I spend my “free” time with my family, going to the beach, playing board games, reading or helping complete homework with my year 3 twins!