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Teaching about ‘Tech for Good’

An example from the University of Edinburgh

The PGDE Primary students at the University of Edinburgh take part in a 3 hour technologies workshop focussed around the use of designing digital technology for social good. The class is designed to model how teachers can nurture creative and collaborative cultures within their own classes in the future. The session is supported by researchers from the Centre for Research in Digital Education and educational technology advisors from Midlothian Council. Computer Science students from the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh are also invited to share their technological expertise. 

The students are introduced to the concept of “Tech for Good” before exploring some exciting technologies such as Makey Makey, Spheros and low-cost VR headsets. It is important to allow enough time for the students to play and experiment with the learning possibilities of the technology, supported by more technically confident peers (the computer science students) and experienced classroom educators (the local authority team). This is followed by a design session in which the students work in teams to propose a classroom project where pupils design a technological solution to a societal problem. Together the students select a topic area for the class (such as plastic in the oceans, or recycling) and then they devise a series of lessons in which the pupils will develop their digital making skills as they develop a prototype. 

For example, one student group developed the idea of designing prototype robots which could sift plastics from the sea using sphero robots in the school swimming pool. The researchers then went on to carry out that project with a special school in Edinburgh the next term. Teaching and research are intertwined; the students and researchers learn from each other. Both student cohorts learn valuable communication skills from collaborating with peers in a different discipline, widening their perspectives of the role of technology in society. 

Which Framework themes are addressed by this input?

This session gives the students practice in the following aspects of the Digital Literacies framework:

  • Exploring and choosing a range of digital tools and resources which can support learning including commercial and open source solutions (e.g. Open educational resources)
  • Planning for learning
  • Designing, building and testing digital solutions. (e.g. coding in a block based programming language) 
  • Nurturing effective learning cultures
  • Connecting with other professionals