QE’s mission to produce young men who are confident, able and responsible applies as much to the realm of technology as to other aspects of School life.
Our digital strategy is carefully considered, yet also strongly forward-looking. While building on the extensive experience of remote education gained during the pandemic and before, we are aiming much higher.
The strategy recognises the importance of our pupils being able to use technology effectively (‘digital literacy’). Secondly, it aims to make use of the enormous potential of technology for enhancing the QE educational experience. And thirdly, through it we aim to inspire boys and give them the skills they need so they can thrive at university and in exciting emerging careers in technology in areas such as AI, virtual reality, blockchain and robotics.
To achieve all this, we extensively research not only which hardware and software to buy, but also how best to deploy it, learning from the good practice of others.
At the heart of our strategy is our 1:1 programme, which is being rolled out to all students. The programme involves the extensive use of personal 1:1 devices (tablet computers) – in the classroom, for homework, and for independent study.
We are embedding technology fully into the boys’ daily QE experience because we believe that, properly implemented, technology can entirely transform aspects of education. Educationalists have developed a model – SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) – to explain how this works:
- Substitution: in this first stage, technology replaces old methods, possibly saving time, money and effort, but with no functional improvement.
- Augmentation: technology remains a direct substitute, but the technology enhances the learning process.
- Modification: technology allows the design of interactive, dynamic tasks that would not be possible in a non-digital classroom.
- Redefinition: in this most sophisticated stage, technology is used to realise entirely new learning opportunities in ways that would previously not even have been conceivable.
Our initial work is focused on enhancement, which includes substitution and augmentation. A good example of how specific technologies supporting both the extra-curricular and academic programme is the PE department’s AI-driven VEO camera. This is used to record and then analyse players’ strengths and weaknesses using footage of their actual performance in fixtures and training. This is an example of what is meant by ‘augmentation’.
While the SAMR model typically emphasises collaborative learning benefits, we recognise that, with QE’s emphasis on free-thinking scholarship, our digital strategy must also make full use of the extensive opportunities technology offers for personalisation and for enhancing independent learning.