At a time when online and blended learning is key, Mr Balderson, discusses how Westonbirt students are helped to recognise the benefits of technology, whilst minimising the potential pitfalls.
We seem to have established a tradition of the final week of term being marked as a 'Digital Detox' week. One which is perhaps especially important this year, as the pandemic has driven us to use technology more frequently than ever before. Throughout the week, we aim to reduce our use of technology wherever possible, lifting our eyes from the screens in front of us, to appreciate our environment and each other more fully.
It is certainly the case that the constant clamouring for our attention, coming from social media, email, text messages and apps means that time and space are precious commodities. Years 11 and 13 were reminded in their study skills session with Miss Rogerson last Thursday that simply having a phone on your desk makes you less productive and affects concentration. The Sixth Form spent part of Tutorial Day watching the Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’, which highlights the addictive nature of social media, amongst other themes.
There are, therefore, plenty of good reasons why an occasional 'reset' is a good idea; taking a break from technology and giving some space to think about how we balance our usage. However, we ought to recognise that there are huge benefits to technology, as well as the many pitfalls. Our aim as a school is to help pupils make the most of the huge opportunities technology brings - the ability to perform research, to collaborate, to be creative and to be a part of our community even when isolating on the other side of the world, but also to understand and minimise the negatives - distraction, lack of concentration and disrupted sleep to name but a few.
Perhaps ironically, pupils needed to bring their devices with them on Monday for tutorial day, in order to be introduced to the ‘I Am Me’ app, a positive mental health app, designed to help young people cope with the pressures of today's fast-paced world.
In an era when we have been able to maintain learning and keep our sense of community alive during lockdown, there are many obvious benefits to technology, but we aim this week to take a short break, before the excitement of Christmas descends.
Wishing you all a relaxing Christmas break.