United Lisbon International School

How technology engages students and boost skills

How are we preparing our kids for the current and future world of technology at United Lisbon?  Our Education Technology Specialist, Kyriakos Koursaris, talks about how educational transformation through the integration of new technologies is one of the core pillars for promoting active learning at United Lisbon International School

Educational transformation through the integration of new technologies is one of the core pillars for promoting active learning at United Lisbon International School. However, computers, interactive panels, and specialized software are only tools. To truly reap the benefits of this transformation, we recognize that students today learn differently than generations before them. Rather than replacing the curriculum, technology enhances it, leading to deeper student engagement and boosting important skills like creativity and collaboration that students will need in tomorrow’s workforce.

We look at the use of technology not just for the transmission and consumption of information, but also as a connector and amplifier for deep learning. Deep learning, as defined by a recent paper published by NPDL (New Pedagogies for Deep Learning) and Microsoft, is the “process of acquiring the six Global Competencies: character, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking”. These competencies, “describe the skills and attributes needed for learners to flourish as citizens of the world and encompass compassion, empathy, socio-emotional learning, entrepreneurialism, and related skills for functioning in a complex universe.”

In order to achieve this as efficiently and productively as possible, ICT is not treated as an independent subject that must occupy a single, weekly slot in the school’s calendar, but is integrated across all subjects, curriculums, and learning areas of the school community. In this way, ICT can improve the quality of teaching and learning, focusing not on the technology itself but on the skills and competencies of the 21st century that both teachers and students must develop in order to thrive in a world of constant change and progress.
By successfully interweaving ICT into the curriculum, we aim to provide a rich context for learners to communicate, co-operate, and think critically, calculate, and solve problems, applicable across all subject areas and educational environments.

ICT integrated into the curriculum can be transformative in several ways, and the kinds of learning activities that promote higher-order thinking skills, which make use of all sorts of software and online project-based resources are, in turn, demanding that we all re-think traditional pedagogies. All of this is having a deep impact on our understanding of the curriculum, in terms of what a curriculum is, who develops it and how it is executed, communicated and enhanced, and in what ways ICT can help students develop more critical responses to the information they access.

The impact of the pandemic, the continuing advances in digital technology, and the demand for student-centered learning have combined to present a unique opportunity to transform education across whole systems. This powerful shift to a learner-centered system will be amplified by technology and driven by education that is steeped in purpose and meaning.
As Barbara Holzapfel, General Manager for Microsoft Education summarizes it: “As we look to the next school year and beyond, system leaders, educators, faculty, students, and families will apply what they’ve learned throughout the process, and work together to plan and shape the future of education.”