Our students live in an exciting time in education with the opportunities created by digital technology. The benefits of using digital tools are well documented and I am excited by the high levels of engagement the advent of 1:1 learning has brought to schools. With the use of collaborative tools, students will be able to participate in a lesson, answering and asking questions on a level never seen before; develop on-line forums inside and beyond the classroom and engage with their learning. But we are conscious of the need to balance the digital connectedness our students are experiencing with the need to connect on a personal level with each other and with nature. Research is available which documents the harmful effects of people being wired 24/7 to their virtual world. There are physiological as well as psychological dangers from the excessive use of digital technology ranging from “ihunch”, the effect on posture, to the almost obsessional behaviour of some who cannot “disconnect” for fear of becoming isolated from their peers.
We are conscious of these dangers and intend to make digital citizenship a major focus of our learning in 2017. We want our students to see and harness the positive benefits of using digital technology. The responsible use of social media is a key competency for students as is the efficient use of technology and its many applications. Teachers will ensure that the use of digital technology will be balanced with other traditional teaching styles for example personalised discussion and class debate which fosters social interaction. We are also fortunate to be able to offer a comprehensive extra curricular programme which helps students to keep a balance. Year 7 camp, OPC, Outdoor Education excursions and Whanau organised EOTC trips are designed to provide the obvious benefits of being in the outdoors, enjoying nature and to be disconnected for a while. Our four cornerstones promote healthy activity, social development as well as participation in group and team activities.
We will also work with parents starting with the Netsafe evening on November 3 to ensure we work as a team so our students can become responsible and competent users of digital technology.
“Growing greatness/kia mana ake.”