The constant challenge for every teacher is how do you teach a classroom of students of different abilities and aptitudes at the same time without leaving someone either bored or left behind?
Too many students do not reach their potential. In poor countries only a quarter of secondary schoolchildren acquire at least a basic knowledge of maths, reading and science. Even in the mostly rich countries of the OECD about 30% of teenagers fail to reach proficiency in at least one of these subjects.
For the last 20 years ICDL has tried to answer that question and in the process has provided the learning materials to teach over 800,000 Irish students the digital skills they need right now and for the future.
What matters is how education technology (EdTech) is used. In the same way that many students get grinds or extra tuition, EdTech and specifically ICDL can put individual attention within reach of all pupils. It is one of the few opportunities Irish students have to introduce personalised, digital learning.
Schools are more productive
ICDL in particular and EdTech as a whole can aid learning by making schools more productive. ICDL is truly one of the few pieces of EdTech that is truly at the service of teaching. It doesn’t rely on the teacher’s ability to be an IT expert, instead it relies on their expertise to guide a student through a carefully planned lesson and curriculum. It manages the mock tests and the exams and takes the work out of marking papers and creates more time for both students and teachers to learn from each other.
I grew up in Ireland, I was taught Irish for over ten years but sadly I am not fluent. Why would we think that learning IT skills, a much less established part of our school curriculum, would be any easier? In fact, some assume that, because our kids grew up in an environment of technology that they are all experts in it.
The use of ICT in the workplace, which affected only a handful of occupations a few decades ago – is now required in all but two occupations: dishwashing and food cooking. (Berger and Frey, 2016).
If only we could personalise learning. Let each student learn at their own pace. Let each student focus on their talents and the weaknesses that are stopping that talent from flourishing. Let there be a place in the curriculum where I decide what I want to learn and that helps me in every part of my studies. ICDL is genuinely doing that for thousands of students in schools, offices and at home.