CGI’s new rollout of digital devices in Scottish classrooms is making technology-based learning a priority and helping pupils achieve core skillsets

INNOVATIVE transformation projects aimed at boosting the digital skills of pupils and enhancing learning are being rolled out in parts of Scotland.

The multi-million pound schemes are not only aiming to help close the attainment gap but will deliver benefits to both rural areas as well as cities. 

Global technology company CGI is implementing digital learning in Glasgow and the Scottish Borders.

It is predicted that digital commerce could soon be the backbone of the UK economy so it is seen as essential that the workforce of tomorrow is digitally literate.

It is often thought that modern children are technological whizzkids but, while they may have a vast knowledge of gaming and social media, their skills in many other areas may have gaps – and there are still some homes without internet access.

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Lindsay McGranaghan, CGI vice president

To address this, CGI is not only strengthening the internet structures of schools and putting in place the infrastructure to deliver the experience needed, but also training teachers in the use of technology for teaching. 

These devices are presently planned to be supplied to pupils from P6 to S6 in Glasgow and the Scottish Borders. 

In addition, children from P1-P5 will have access to an iPad when there are opportunities to enhance learning. 

Learning spaces will also be made more flexible with the addition of projectors and Apple TV.

The programme supports the requirements set out in the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Education, which now places digital learning as a priority for schools and a core skill. 

“It means equal access to a transformative digital learning experience which will also benefit teachers and communities,” said Steve Smart, senior vice president for CGI in Scotland. 

“At a time when Scotland needs more highly-qualified workers to meet a growing skills shortage in the digital economy, this programme will be of huge long-term value.” 

Often the focus on an innovation like this is on the devices that are being used, but the entire project is bigger than just the technology, according to CGI.  “Raising attainment is a key part of our projects with councils and the other key driver is equality – making sure everyone has access to the same great tools for learning,” said Lindsay McGranaghan, CGI vice president.

“That has an impact socially because it means families that may not have had access to technology now have it.”
Fears that the supply of tablets to pupils will just increase their overall screen time and add to the workload of teachers have been quickly addressed by CGI.

“We are excited about the tools that the technology brings for teachers to view and interact with how students are using their technology.

The ability to see the screens of every device in the classroom is a real reassurance to teachers and ensures safety for students,” said McGranaghan. 

“This will allow teachers to embed effective feedback in lessons and to direct the pace and direction of learning.”
Far from increasing the teacher’s workload, the changes aim to save teachers time and schools money.

“Teachers already have a heavy workload and if they feel this is another burden it will never work,” McGranaghan said. “We are showing teachers the benefits as, for example, they can do marking a lot quicker and in a more impactful way for pupils. 

Teachers can mark someone’s work online then attach a voice memo which is richer and more personal than a note in a jotter. 

“Attainment levels improve because of the timeliness of feedback and that personal engagement.

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“For pupils it’s not about sitting passively in front of a screen but much more about the creative aspect of using the technology and opening up options for them when they leave school. This will open doors to career opportunities, and  it means we are looking at a potential workforce of students who have spent their school career developing digital skills.” 

It is hoped this will not only benefit students but also the economy as it will provide companies like CGI with workers who have the skills they need. 

“We need to attract different genders to this industry and the people we will be educating through this will hopefully see CGI as a positive destination when they come out of school,” said McGranaghan. 

“Some might go on to study for degrees in technology but others might take up a Modern Apprenticeship with us. 

“We would love to be able to say that our Modern Apprenticeship intake is from the schools that we have been working with.”

Devices encourage classroom creativity

Education with tablets not only saves time and money, but also helps encourage pupils’ personal development

THE CGI education transformation programmes in schools will not only aim to increase pupils’ digital skills but also potentially benefit the environment.

It is a common sight in schools, particularly at exam time, to see teachers queuing up to use the photocopier to print off past papers to give to pupils for practise. Using tablets they will be able to deliver the papers electronically to pupils, saving time and money.

“We know of UK schools who have covered the cost of their iPads from the money they have saved on photocopying,” said CGI Business Development Director Martin Green. 

HeraldScotland:

CGI Business Development Director Martin Green

“There is the possibility of significant time-saving aspects for teachers as well as an environmental benefit.”

Another bonus of the devices is that teachers can potentially send differentiated tasks to different pupils in a classroom at the same time and it is all done digitally and invisibly. 

The devices are also expected to encourage creativity.

“There is evidence there has been a decline in creativity amongst young people and we know creativity is one of the key skills that businesses say they are lacking,” said Green. 

“This technology has the potential to develop creative thinking. It’s very powerful – learning can be taken out into galleries and museums and other spaces where students can take photographs, videos and complete tasks before returning to the classroom to develop and reflect on learning.”

Internet safety and cyber security will be integral to the project and the projects have worked with Education Scotland who have provided a number of training sessions around these issues. “We want young people to be supported and helped to live safely and that is one of reasons for doing this project as it will allow them to learn to live safely in the digital world,” said Green.

All the devices will have internet filtering applied so safety is built in and if they are lost or stolen they can be locked and wiped. They will have no value outside of the context in which they are designed to be used in learning. Pupils will be taught about the value of the devices so they can take care of them properly and parents will be kept in the loop so they understand how the devices are being used and how it can also benefit them.

It will be up to schools and councils to decide whether pupils can take the devices home and CGI will be training trouble shooters to sort any issues. 

“Students expect to have this technology in their hands now and when it’s not provided parents worry their kids are being left behind. We believe this project is very creative and innovative,” said Green.