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Education / New strategy aims to ‘create digital learners’

A NEW digital learning and teaching strategy for Shetland’s schools is being considered by councillors.

The strategy – which has not been developed as a direct response to the pandemic as the need for one had already been identified – got an airing in front of Shetland Islands Council’s education and families committee on Monday.

It comes on the back of a Scottish Government commitment to provide a digital device to every child in the country during this parliamentary term, and it is anticipated the government will fund the rollout.

Although the pandemic has not forced the council into developing the strategy, the move to remote learning during school closures has certainly given it added impetus.

The aim is to provide a framework enabling the council to make “planned and deliberate progress to support digital educators, create digital learners, enhance digital access, develop digital leadership and build digital protection within our education system”.

“Change has also created new opportunities and accelerated progress towards a more digitally agile education system, many times more able to respond to the challenge and take advantage of the vast learning and networking opportunities afforded by digital connectivity,” the strategy’s introduction said.

“The education system has experienced a seismic shift forward enabling staff to engage with technologies that are fast becoming ubiquitous across our system.

“And now it is time to make further, more controlled, and strategic progress in enhancing learning and teaching through digital technologies.”

Among its themes is digital learners and teachers, and ensuring digital protection as well as supporting participation from all pupils.

Currently in Shetland one device – a PC, laptop or tablet – is made available for every two pupils in secondary schools and for every three pupils in primaries.

During the pandemic the Scottish Government provided more funding for local authorities to access digital devices for people in need.

Members of the education and families committee were happy to support the strategy.

But Shetland West member Theo Smith issued a note of caution regarding the connectivity issues some parts of the isles face, while North Mainland councillor Emma Macdonald said not all parents would be tech-savvy for helping their children with homework.

The strategy will go in front of the policy and resources committee and full council later this month before it can be signed off.