In times of change, learners inherit the earth ....

"In times of change, learners inherit the earth..."

In his 1973 book 'Reflections of the Human Condition' Eric Hoffer gave us the often quoted observation 

“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” 
 
A drastic change is taking place, a once in a generation event. A central pillar of our education system was about bringing everyone together in the same physical space. Thursday, 12th March this ceased to be an option. We all know schools are about so much more than bricks and mortar and the flame of education cannot be extinguished. Experienced school leaders who have 'seen it all' have never seen anything as disruptive as this.
 
The Digital Learning Framework for Post Primary schools now reads like a preparedness document for the current scenario. Highly effective practice means leaders in the school; 
  • Expect and encourage teachers to embed digital technologies in their learning, teaching and assessment
  • Have highly effective technology-based systems for monitoring students’ progress and development
  • Plan for and implement a broad and balanced curriculum that embeds digital technologies to support communication, collaboration, knowledge co-creation and civic participation
Leaders who have been embracing and promoting technology are now reaping serious rewards. Students and teachers already familiar with their platform of choice with accounts provisioned have communication lines open and flowing. Technology enhanced learning has become technology enabled learning. 
 
I have been promoting technology in education for over a decade and can confidently state the barriers to entry have never been lower. Cloud based platforms are free to schools, easy to administer and offer a comprehensive set of tools for learning. The facilitate anytime, anywhere learning and teaching where content follows you to whatever device you have access to. Such solutions are quick to learn, extensible and fit for purpose. 
 
Chaos can be a ladder and school leaders are seeing adoption rates of online teaching and learning they could never have imagined at the start of the year. In various education settings I have often observed a spectrum of technology users - evangelical, embracing, sceptical. Needs must and now everyone who can be on board, is on board. Providing the platform, the encouragement, the structure and in particular facilitating peer support of both students and teachers can 'lift all boats' in terms of technology in education. We must ensure that this momentum is not lost on return to school and that we can ensure our colleges and their students will have the tools and support to 'inherit the future'. 
 
Conor Power is a school leader in Coláiste Chiaráin, Croom.
Teacher of History, Computer Science and Politics and an assistant principal.
Twitter: @conpower

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