Environmental Scan Report

Jan 14, 2016 | 0 comments

Jan 14, 2016 | Miscellaneous | 0 comments

Environmental Scan Report

Table of Contents

Executive Summary 3

Section 3: In-Depth Analysis- Teacher Learning 10

Annotated Bibliography 14

References 16

Environmental Scan Report

Executive Summary
The proliferation of trending technologies and the use of the Internet has promoted tremendous development in electronic learning (e-learning) as a significant element of classroom learning. The learning environment includes spaces and places for learning such as the library, classroom, and school. Notably, the 21st century requires the establishment of a learning environment that can enable learning for students and develop skills required for the digital world’s workplaces and communities. Educators have the responsibility for developing a learning environment in the classroom that facilitates the opportunity for students to achieve both 21st-century skills and academic skills. Indeed, meaningful learning requires the use of various learning strategies, including the integration of e-learning environment. Traditionally, computers have been used in learning environments for teaching or tutoring. Today, the learning environment requires interconnection with technology that makes a learning environment virtual, remote, and online.
Perhaps, the best approach to establishing excellent learning environments in the 21st century is to use support systems that organize the conditions necessary for humans to learn best. This document provides a digital environmental scan indicating the rationale for establishing a digital learning system in the school based on a broader Australian Curriculum and informational changes. It deliberates on essential issues that might enable or create a barrier to the establishment of a digital learning environment alongside major issues to be considered in creating a digital learning environment for the school. Concerning the overview f the school, this digital environmental scan offers a direction for the school community on the approach to supporting students to develop knowledge and skills for 21st-century workplace and community demands. Hopefully, this report would constitute a better platform for the project implementers to make the necessary steps for developing a digital policy document in line with the latest technology alongside the evolution of best learning practices in the classroom and school at large.

Section 1: Rational and Context
Rationale

The concept of e-learning refers to a broad term that deals with a variety of teaching approaches, administrative practices, and technology. In the current century, technologies and applications in education are changing and developing rapidly leading to demand various suggestions for procedures of using technologies in and outside of the classroom. With the ever-evolving integration of e-learning into courses offered by educational institutions, there is a strong need for practical guidelines as well as recommendations to facilitate the establishment and delivery of effective e-learning environments. The modern learning environments offers support for strengths-based instruction and provide teachers and students with openness, flexibility, and access to resources. Meanwhile, working in a flexible and open environment that enables sharing of inquiries, collaborative interventions of devices, and reflections based on peer and self-observations promotes learning practices (Association of College and Research Libraries, 2015). Technological innovation offers a significant element in today’s learning environment and societies. Indeed, the field of education is continually undergoing changes based on teaching approaches. Therefore, educational environments have turned to technology as the key driving force behind most of the world’s digital learning environment achievements. Therefore, the school must offer a favourable learning environment based on robust digital citizenship and technological effortlessness.

Context

Dubbo College Campus is a public-owned college located in a rural community with 410 students. The campus provides the student’s capacity for learning is extremely reduced. It has a teaching staff of 59 with 29 of them SASS staff. Most of the community around has high degrees of computer illiteracy owing to its remote location in the rural community. The stakeholders of the college have been working tirelessly to facilitate a learning environment favourable to the students, yet the students remain at risk of other factors that may distract them from learning. The college consists of Delroy Campus, South Campus, Senior Campus and the Administration Centre with a small computer lab that cannot comfortably serve the entire school population. However, the school is in the process of constructing a bigger computer centre that can accommodate a larger number of students than the current computer lab.

Role of Information Technology

Mathews Consulting Group (2009) observes that learning that endures is achieved through life itself. Despite having a small physical landscape learning environment, engendered learning offers an extension to the local community and the entire world. Through digital citizenship, the students, teachers, and community can work together on internships and service projects. Digital learning environment provides the learners with the opportunity to connect with their peers across the globe and share data on a common problem, such as global warming and wildlife preservation. Furthermore, the teachers and students have the freedom of accessing advice of world-renowned experts to offer guidance in their inquiry-based projects. Therefore, as Mathews Consulting Group reports, technology enables flexible connections, yet physical structures also are essential for facilitating learning experiences of the 21st century.

Reconceiving the Library

The 21st-century digital learning environment design influences are equipping the library that is a traditional learning space. As most of the library contents move to digital form, a strategic response to the library is essential. Despite the digitalization of information, students still require space. Therefore, the establishment of a digital learning environment would provide a platform for developing a library media centre where students will be able to gather to get and generate information and get motivated about learning as they escape pressures of their daily lives (Association of College and Research Libraries, 2015). The use of information technology will offer a modern library media centre that would carry its traditional roles of bringing information resources to students. Besides, it would provide the tools and infrastructure that would enable learners to synthesize, analyze, and assess resources in an approach that demonstrate learning and creating new skills and knowledge, as suggested by Association of School Librarians. Moreover, it must provide formal learning places where a large group of students can gather for group discussions, social learning, and presentations.

Tools for Learning

Students of today require access to digital tools alongside media-rich resources that assist them to explore, comprehend, and express themselves in the next generation they will offer their leadership. Likewise, educators need to access tools and resources that facilitate sharing knowledge and practice with other professional and facilitate interaction with global experts in their field of specialization and connect with the families of students and communities. Consequently, administrators require similar tools and resources to facilitate proper management of the educational enterprise complexities and manage student databases. Therefore, developing a robust infrastructure that offers flexibility and growth would facilitate these essential connections. Fundamentally, technology as a learning tool offers support for people’s relationships with a better learning and working environment. Planning is a complex tax. Therefore, the school should design an infrastructure based on meeting today’s practical realities alongside opportunities of tomorrow.

Section 2: Issues
Major Influences
Lack of Awareness and Understanding

Individuals, precisely in the rural areas has limited understanding of the potential of technology in improving the student learning environment and the society at large. While there are positive responses to awareness, Dubbo College is located in a remote area with minimal literacy levels. The infrastructure in the college and the community has not been able to attract investment in an information technology further offering a challenge to the college. The location of the college in a remote area makes it least accessible, and transportation of computers to the area has been a problem coupled with limited internet access (Shep, Sheehan & McKinley, 2013). Therefore, most students have not been provided with the opportunity to integrate e-learning and get access to ICT facilities.

Lack of Budget for IT

Since the college has only modest financial resources; there has been a challenge of investing in a digital learning environment despite the government set a goal of bringing the entire education sector to the technology forefront. The budget for developing a digital learning environment has been too expensive for the college in the previous post, and the limited financial resources have been channelled to other developmental activities. Given the modest budget, improper fund allocation is an additional challenge that results from a lack of commitment from leaders in the college.

Limited Internet Access

The application of Internet Technologies remains limited to the country’s remote areas. This is because most people in the community around the school cannot afford personal computers, and most public internet access centres are located in urban centres. Besides, the increased price of network connectivity offers a great barrier to the needed widespread student internet usage. Shep et al., (2013) finds that the cost of installing the latest technology tools such as computers and the internet remains high as compared to the budgetary allocations of the college.

Major Issues
Human Resource Development

The college needs to consider staff training for teachers that are not fully competent in computer literacy. This will facilitate the introduction of the ICT curriculum in the college that is can be comprehended by the Dubbo teaching staff. The acquisition of ICT literacy and skill among the students in the college will depend on how much the ICT-related curriculum is introduced in the college. Therefore, the college has the challenge to develop and implement an in-training program for the staff so that the teaching staff can integrate e-learning approaches in their teaching activities and other education-related activities. Furthermore, the staff should be engaged in research and development activities to promote further ICT in the college and the community. As such, Dubbo College will establish links with other higher institutions of education that are well-advanced in the digital learning environment for development. Through this approach, the college staff would be able to apply digital learning environment as a tool to improve basic and advanced education.

ICT Infrastructure

Establishment of ICT infrastructure should be embraced throughout the college to offer better access for all students. There is a need to develop affordable infrastructure to the students and the price for internet connections should be fully sponsored so that students with personal laptops can easily access the internet. Computer laboratories, internet access centre, and a vibrant network would be essential for establishing an active digital learning environment in the college. The infrastructure should be developed following a robust consultancy works with ICT experts to avoid any issue that may jeopardize the efficiency and functioning of the digital learning environment.

E-learning Funding

Many educational institutions currently treat e-learning budgeting as a special item funded through one-time appropriations. However, the installation of technology infrastructure requires a significant budgetary allocation for installing, implementing and monitoring (Shep et al., 2013). The current policies for funding are inappropriate for traditional campus-based programs and services. The budgetary policies used traditionally, such as lump-sum appropriateness, according to Shep and associates, do not function adequately for e-learning. Therefore, the college should promote funding of e-learning based on its lifecycle. Fund allocation for the establishment of the digital learning environment should correlate for effective utilization of technology based on significant objectives to ensure transparency and accountability. Concerning the on-campus educational offerings, there is a challenge of raising the primary cost in e-learning initiatives that includes hardware, software and personnel infrastructure related to faculty alongside instructional support staff. Inadequate institutional support and external financial aids have been a greater challenge that would affect the reduction of cost of human resource to achieve economies of scale and better improvements. Likewise, implementation of curriculum and creation of effective digital learning materials further complicates the process of funding.

Section 3: In-Depth Analysis- Teacher Learning

The development of a digital learning environment in college education does not deal with the introduction of new software and hardware, but the instructors have to adopt new roles and knowledge of using the DLE platform. Pacific Policy Research Center (2010) points out that it is essential to integrate workshops and training to improve skills of the teachers and also get them involved in the process of change from traditional learning to the digital learning environment. Continuous staff training programs should often be embraced to promote skill development and refreshment based on regular updates that come with digital learning developments. According to Pacific Policy Research Center, staff training and development for teachers to adapt to the digital learning platforms requires learning teacher-centred pedagogy. The training program should be teacher-centred that would allow teachers to apply the concept to the learners and enable transformation through preferred learning styles, critical thinking, experimentation, and proper learning styles. The program of training teachers should also reflect a robustly developed plan and policies through planned funding and restrictive spending for effective training to take place.
Reports by Learning Cultures Consulting Inc (2006) shows that teachers’ workload greatly influences their acceptance of digital learning environment in the institution. Increased workload together with teaching with technology is an essential part of participants of the study. It is revealed that increased workload results due to course maintenance and persistent upgrades, learning new skills, student emails, and the lasting search for sustainable strategies. Therefore, the institution should implement new strategies based on the aims of the educational system to lessen the workload of the teacher. The training program for teachers should, therefore, integrate the issue of the workload that enables a teacher to deliver effectively. However, both internal and external barriers present challenges to the implementation of a training program for teachers. Essentially, the concern of funding, limited internet access and lack of awareness presents a major challenge to the teacher learning activities required in the process of establishment of the digital learning environment.
The development of teachers on personal levels is a subject to various factors that influence the teacher’s use of a digital learning environment. This requires the expansion of the curriculum to accommodate the concepts of Digital learning environment so that the teachers can have proper guidance on the implementation stage. Furthermore, the successful integration of digital learning environment into college instruction requires the change of teacher’s attitude towards ICT. Previous research reveals that the teacher’s attitude towards ICT integration in teaching greatly influences their acceptance of the significance of technology and its integration in teaching (Learning Cultures Consulting Inc, 2006). If the attitude of teachers is positive towards the integration of digital learning environment, then they would easily offer important insights about the adoption of the digital learning environment in teaching and learning processes. At the campus level, factors such as training facilities, funding, and support influence the adoption of teachers to technologies into their classrooms. The professional development of teachers is an essential contributor to the successful integration of computers into learning processes (Learning Cultures Consulting Inc, 2006). As such, technology-related training programs would develop the competencies of teachers’ attitudes towards digitalization of the learning environment.
Therefore, the college should approach both the government and other financial aids to facilitate funding for teacher learning. Besides, the budgeting of the college should be aggressive to embrace excellent financial prudence when allocating funds for training programs. This would ensure there are adequate funds for training the teachers and no funds are wasted. Additionally, the college should invest in ICT infrastructure and create internet access centres so that the challenge of poor internet access is mitigated. Also, there can be a public awareness to the society around to persuade the community to invest in ICT. Through this, then there will be cheaper internet access in the area, and the larger population would benefit from ICT-related development projects. In a nutshell, the implementation of teacher learning programs to achieve their support and contribution to the establishment of a digital learning environment requires personal, college, and technological adjustments. As such, the college should offer support and funding while the technology should be latest and easy to integrate into the learning system. This would result in the teacher’s support and offer successful and consistent results over time.

Recommendations for the Environmental Scan Report

Global investment in the digital learning environment to improve teaching and learning in schools have been implemented by many colleges. Despite the level of investments, teacher training and development is an essential part of succeeding in establishing DLE. Also, infrastructure, equipment, and professional development are necessary to improve education in the college. Indeed, the rapid development in ICT has promoted remarkable changes in the 21st century, thus affecting the demands of modern societies. The innovation of ICT has made it become an essential part of learning in educational institutions to use digital learning platforms to teach the skills and knowledge needed by students in the 21st century. Therefore, the college should;

Initiate teacher learning programs based on various aspects such as curriculum development and workload deliberation to enable proper acceptance and delivering of digital learning skills and knowledge to the students
1). Conduct awareness programs to drum support for the introduction of the digital learning environment in the institution by integrating the community and the campus stakeholders.
2). Ensure proper budgetary allocation in the introduction of the digital learning environment by providing funds for procurement of software, hardware, and staff development and training.
3). The barriers that discourage the integration of digital learning environment use by teachers should be reviewed. The factors should be categorized into teacher-level and system-level barriers. The teacher-level barriers include factors such as lack of pedagogical teacher training and lack of teacher confidence.
4). The college should deal with college-level barriers, including restrictive curricula, traditional assessment, lack of ICT mainstreaming to college’s strategy, and poorly maintained hardware.

Annotated Bibliography

Association of College and Research Libraries. (2015).Environmental Scan 2015 By the ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee. ACRL Environmental Scan

This document offers various elements of the environmental scan with the latest provisions and implications on every library acquisition and collections. The report is important for initiating the process of the digital learning environment in the college library as it provides various collections and acquisitions relevant in the current library.

Learning Cultures Consulting Inc. (2006). E-Learning Environmental Scan: Needs and Preferences / Issues / Trends and Promising Practices: 

This document provides the purpose of e-learning environmental scan that offers an additional background to complementing the profile of the report. It offers a summary for issues required and current trends for implementing e-learning to both students and teachers. Therefore, it is beneficial for developing a better reference that supports the facets of this report.

Mathews Consulting Group. (2009). Neighbourhood Charter School: Environmental scan report

The consulting group offers insights from internal and external constituents of NCS based on a variety of feedback from a survey. Based on research, this source provides evidence of success in the investment of digital learning environment in a college. It offers various factors that act to facilitate the successful development of DLE by integrating the institution’s stakeholder.

Pacific Policy Research Center. (2010). 21st Century Skills for Students and Teachers. Honolulu: Kamehameha Schools, Research & Evaluation Division.

This work provides an extensive literature review containing published works on 21st-century learning skills. Therefore, the document is important for considering the latest procedures and process necessary for establishing an e-learning environment that meets the demands of the 21st-century workplaces and community.

Shep, J., Sheehan, M., & McKinley, D. (2013). Exploring Digital Technologies and Historical Thinking in undergraduate learning and teaching at VUW. Victoria University of Wellington.

Shep and colleagues provide a report that documents an extensive environmental scan of digital tools and technologies that are used in the current century. The report is effective for reinforcing various undertakes of the college environmental scan.

References

Association of College and Research Libraries. (2015). Environmental Scan 2015 By the ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee. ACRL Environmental Scan

Learning Cultures Consulting Inc (2006). e-Learning Environmental Scan: Needs and Preferences / Issues / Trends and Promising Practices:

Mathews Consulting Group. (2009). Neighborhood Charter School: Environmental scan report

Pacific Policy Research Center. (2010). 21st Century Skills for Students and Teachers. Honolulu: Kamehameha Schools, Research & Evaluation Division.

Shep, J., Sheehan, M., & McKinley, D. (2013). Exploring Digital Technologies and Historical Thinking in undergraduate learning and teaching at VUW. Victoria University of Wellington.