Enhancing learning and teaching through the use of digital technology

National strategy to ensure all learners and educators are able to benefit from digital technology in their education.

Educational Value from Digital Technology

1) Enhancing Learning and Teaching

Digital technology can enrich the learning experience for all of our children and young people. We know from consultation activity that our learners already have a strong exposure to digital technology and that they would support its increased use as part of their own education.

Consultations on the views of children and young people on the use of digital technology in education

As part of the development of this strategy, the Scottish Government commissioned Young Scot and the Children's Parliament to gather the views of children and young people on the use of digital technology in education.

The Children's Parliament consulted with 92 children from across Scotland aged between 8-11. The children that took part in the consultation exercise already had strong exposure to digital technology. This included owning a personal digital device and having an informed understanding of the potential dangers associated with having access to digital technology. The children that took part also thought that digital technology makes learning more fun and they would like to see it used more as long it is not over-used. In general, they thought that their access to digital technology in school is constrained by a lack of digital equipment and limitations in the skills of their teachers in using digital equipment.

The full consultation report can be accessed at - http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00495173.pdf

Young Scot consulted with over 250 children and young people from across Scotland aged between 11-25. The young people consulted thought that digital technology was an important learning aid in the classroom, a good tool for revision, provided an interactive learning experience and gave them a quick way to access information. However, they felt that in general, digital resources within their schools were low, could be unreliable and could be misused, and they felt that in many cases, teachers lacked the knowledge of how to use the digital technology they have.

The full consultation report can be accessed at - http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00495091.pdf

In tandem with enriching the learning experience, digital technology can also enhance teaching. This potential lies not in the technology itself but in our educators. If used appropriately, digital technology can act as a powerful, flexible and engaging tool for educators that can enhance what they already do so well; teach our children and young people. The table overleaf illustrates that many of the things that are already considered central to excellent learning and teaching can be enhanced by the use of digital technology.

How Does Digital Technology Enhance Learning and Teaching?

Aspect of quality learning and teaching Right pointing arrow Opportunities and impact of digital technology
Provision of quality educational content Right pointing arrow Learners and educators have access to a multitude of additional online educational content as well as being able to create new digital content that can support education.
Tailoring approach to deliver personalized learning Right pointing arrow A range of digital tools and services (apps, games, websites, etc.) allow educators to offer a number of approaches to learning and learners can choose the approach that best suits them.
Collaborating with others to test understanding of new knowledge and skills Right pointing arrow Educators can offer learners the opportunity to collaborate online with others from across the world in addition to their peers within their school or early years setting.
Engaging and motivating learners Right pointing arrow Educators have access to a range of engaging digital tools and services.
Ensuring education is relevant to learners' experience of the world Right pointing arrow Educators can deliver learning in a digital context using digital tools and services. This better aligns with learners' experience of today's digital world.
Opening up experiences and opportunities for learners Right pointing arrow Educators can provide learners with access to a range of digital resources which allow 'anytime/anywhere learning' and build a level of digital skills which will be vital in today's digital world.
Providing quality assessment, personalized feedback and data to inform subsequent learning and teaching Right pointing arrow Educators can reduce workload by using appropriate digital assessments that provide instant results and personalised feedback. This frees time for focusing on next steps and improvement.
Allowing sufficient time for learning and teaching, enabling learners to develop their knowledge and skills Right pointing arrow Online digital networks allow educators to share resources and digital tools and services expedite lesson planning. Digital assessment eliminates marking time. The time saved can be devoted to quality learning and teaching.
Equity of educational choice Right pointing arrow Live video streaming and digital tools and services allow the potential for learners to study subjects via online distance learning.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar - e-Sgoil

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (The Western Isles Council) has traditionally encountered unique challenges when delivering education. The isolated rural locations of many schools, small school rolls and difficulties in teacher recruitment has made it difficult to offer a wide subject choice to their learners.

In response to these challenges, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar with support from Education Scotland, the Scottish Government and Bòrd na Gàidhlig are developing an e-Sgoil (e-school). This new school will have a hub located in Stornoway which will be linked to all other secondary schools in the Western Isles. This will allow entire classes or individual tuition to be delivered through online distance learning which will utilise live video streaming and a range of digital tools and services available through Glow.

The effect of this new e-Sgoil will be that every secondary school learner in Eilean Siar will be able to access an increased range of subjects in both English and Gaelic. Learners will continue to undertake core subjects in the main school setting however, through the e-Sgoil, they will now be able to access subjects that were previously unavailable to them. Furthermore, this arrangement with also support professional development as educators will be able to access career long professional learning opportunities using the e-Sgoil's infrastructure.

The positive impact of the e-Sgoil may also be felt across Scotland as Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are already in discussions with other local authorities around the potential of opening up the e-Sgoil to learners in other areas.

This project demonstrates how the innovative use of digital technology can offer significant improvement in the delivery of equity of opportunity for both learners and educators in Eilean Siar and beyond.

Use of e-portfolios at St Andrew's RC High School, Fife

St Andrew's RC High School, Fife has utilised Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint within Glow to develop e-portfolios for all of their learners from S1 to S3. This work has delivered a number of benefits that would not have been so easily realised had digital technology not been used.

The digital solution provides learners with a simple way to store and save their work in a single place. Learners can then review their progress and achievements and, if they so wish, share parts of their e-portfolio with peers and teachers in order to help them identify the next steps to their learning. The e-portfolios are also able to build an accurate and comprehensive record of a learner's progress as examples of work can be easily attached to an appropriate portfolio entry. This can include photos, electronic files and presentations. This accurate record of achievement can then follow a learner as the work can be accessed and added to at any point during a learner's educational journey.

Finally, as the e-portfolios have been accessed on a regular basis, the digital literacy of both learners and teachers has increased and digital technology has become a central part of learning and teaching at the school.

2) Improving Educational Outcomes

It has long been established that excellent teaching leads to excellent educational outcomes for learners. If we can utilise digital technology to enhance learning and teaching in the ways already illustrated, we can also help to improve educational outcomes for all of Scotland's learners. It is vital therefore that Scotland enables its learners to benefit in this way.

Independent Literature Review on the Impact of Digital Technology on Learning and Teaching

In July 2015 the Scottish Government commissioned an independent literature review on the impact of digital technology on learning and teaching. The review specifically looked at the potential for digital technology to support and contribute to five educational priorities:

1. raising attainment;
2. tackling inequalities and promoting inclusion;
3. improving transitions into employment;
4. enhancing parental engagement; and
5. improving the efficiency of the education system.

Nearly 1,000 items of literature were collected from academic, professional and governmental sources. A sift to determine relevance was then carried out and 217 sources of literature formed the basis of the review.

The review concluded that if there is sufficient access to equipment, tools and resources and if there is sufficient training and support for educators, then digital technology can have a positive impact on all five of the educational priorities in question. In particular there was:

  • conclusive evidence that digital technologies can support educational attainment in general (and in maths and science subjects particularly);
  • indicative evidence that it can support educational attainment in literacy and help close the gap in attainment between groups of learners; and
  • promising evidence that digital technologies can provide assistance to overcoming the challenges faced by some learners; improvements in employability skills and knowledge of career pathways; improved communications with parents; and time efficiencies for teachers.

The full literature review can be accessed at - http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/11/7786

3) Building Digital Skills

This strategy is primarily focused on the use of digital technology to enhance learning and teaching across all curriculum areas. However, it is both logical and desirable that an increased and more effective use of digital technology will result in all of Scotland's learners developing a level of digital skills that will be essential in today's increasingly digitised world.

The digital economy is vital to Scotland's economy. Today 82,700 people work in digital jobs in Scotland [5] and the digital sector alone contributes £4.5 billion GVA to Scotland's economy [6] . It is now difficult to imagine a job or industry that doesn't involve some level of digital skills.

"Investing in education technology is no longer an option, but a necessity….students unable to navigate through a complex digital landscape will no longer be able to participate fully in economic, social and cultural life around them"

Andreas Schleicher
OECD Education Director

To ensure that all of our learners have the best opportunity to develop a wide range of digital skills, this strategy contributes to, and is closely aligned with, work across the public and private sectors to improve the development of general and specialist digital skills. This cross-sector work builds on the 2014 ICT and Digital Technology Skills Investment Plan ( SIP); particularly themes 2 to 4 below. Further details of current work on digital skills, which will be a key element of the forthcoming Scottish Government STEM Strategy and aligns strongly with Developing the Young Workforce, can found in Annex E.

Digital skills Investment Plan Vision

Info graphic


Email: Russell Cockburn, russell.cockburn@gov.scot

Back to top