Nurturing a digitally resilient generation
“Schools worldwide need to start thinking differently about how to equip children with independent learning skills”
In this week’s blog, director of The British School, New Delhi, India Vanita Uppal OBE, takes an award-winning approach to educating students and the wider community, on the benefits of becoming digitally resilient.
The constantly changing world of technology can throw up unprecedented issues for our children. All over the world cyberbullying exists, but India experiences particularly high rates of this issue and a growing number of young and impressionable mobile device users attend our schools.
In my view, schools worldwide need to start thinking differently about how to equip children with independent learning skills that will stand them in good stead for the future. Part of this is moving away from the outdated expectation that teachers are the font of all knowledge, and providing more opportunities for students to discover and explore the world for themselves.
Essential to this is teaching them to be digitally resilient.
With 55 different nationalities represented in our student cohort, we aim to raise socially responsible, global users of technology.
So how do we achieve this?
The first step is putting e-safety at the centre of all we do. It is not enough to regard this as an add-on to an ICT lesson. This means starting early.
“Our school’s youngest students are just three years old, but we want them to grow up being able to make informed decisions about staying safe online”
To ensure this happens, we provide one-on-one support for primary age children using technology and have implemented a bring your own device policy in our secondary school. We believe it is much more valuable to embrace technology and teach children to use it responsibly, rather than putting a ban or block on mobile phones.
Making sure children gain a balanced view of technology is essential. To this end, we have introduced a number of award-winning initiatives in our school, such as our Digital Citizenship programme. This increases children’s confidence in making decisions about when technology can help them reach learning aims and when a practical experience, such as playing a musical instrument, would be more beneficial.
Our Innovation Lounge is full of exciting, world-class resources such as iPads, Apple TVs, Robotics and 3D printers too, which the children can explore in a hands-on and interactive way. It helps them to become familiar with the latest tools for learning and think about how they can use them effectively in lessons.
Tracking students’ achievement
With technology at the heart of our school, we monitor all students’ achievement using SIMS management information system. This enables us to identify those who need more support on their journey to becoming independent learners and act quickly to help. The school has blossomed from around 650 to 1200 students in 5 years so the system is essential for enabling us to ensure that all we do has a positive impact on our students’ learning.
We want our school to benefit the whole community too so parent tech classes are held every fortnight, and our Google Geeks club is designed to encourage children to share their technological knowledge with parents and grandparents. After all, in India, family comes first.
The initiatives we have introduced are key to the future success of our students. With a strong framework in place and safeguarding at its heart, we know they will have the knowledge and skills to deal with adversity online, support their peers and be able to take their place as fully-rounded, global and digitally resilient citizens.
Vanita Uppal OBE is director of The British School, New Delhi, India, winners of the Top British International School of the Year, 2018.