Over a family meal with friends on Saturday I talked to their 16 year old daughter who is due to start her GCSEs in 17 days (she was very specific!). She is, as many youngsters are now, under some pressure to perform well – at A or A* star level – for university places, for choice of A levels etc.
We talked about how she and her friends use technology in their general learning (rather than ICT classes). Her school is recognised as a great school but technology is not yet pervasive and they are a long way from running a one-to-one scheme.
One particular story struck me – she and some of her friends had identified that the quality of the Physics teaching they were receiving was not what they needed and that they were also concerned that they had not been able to cover the full syllabus. So a small group of them individually bought a Physics GCSE app. They love the app which enables them to test their knowledge, catch up on things that they missed and rerun elements of the syllabus that they needed. The app allows for some exchange and the small group get together online and in each other’s houses to revise and study together.
They no longer take notes in their Physics class and she now feels that the class is almost superfluous as they get what they need online.
This really felt like self-directed independent learning and I wondered how many youngsters are already doing this – with or without their school’s involvement. Schools need to recognise this connected learning is already happening and find ways to capture and support it. Also children and young people need to be given the support and confidence in accessing resources like this – to replace, augment or remind them of everything that their schools already do for them.