So How Is the American School of Bombay Doing?
Last week the New Media Consortium (NMC) published a new Horizon Report: the 2014 NMC Technology Outlook for International Schools in Asia. This report was the result of collaborative research between a number of international schools in the region, with the aim of informing school leaders about significant developments in technologies that support teaching, learning and creative inquiry in primary and secondary education. The American School of Bombay did not participate in this initiative and thus, the report is an important touchstone for us to see in what areas we compare to other international schools in the region.
The Cloud and Mobile Devices
This latest report considered sixty different technologies that will be important to international schools in Asia over the coming five years. Cloud computing and mobile apps have already reached mainstream use in many schools, and international schools in Asia are seen as leading the way with creating their own cloud networks to increase access to content from mobile devices. ASB began heading to the cloud several years ago – in fact, this was a critical step to take as we transitioned into our platform agnostic BYOD laptop program two years ago. We are also now exploring a BYOD secondary device where students use mobile devices.
Parents who attended the recent State of the School meeting will know that ASB has started to use learning analytics to track student progress in order to identify where individual students need extra help and where they are excelling. In many schools in Asia, learning analytics are around 2-3 years away from widespread adoption, though some individual schools are currently using this technology in the pilot phase.
Makerspaces are technologies being adopted in the near term in Asian international schools though in other regions of the world this has been slower to make an impact on education, with it being more on the 2-3 horizon for adoption. Games and gamification are also listed as technologies that all schools will adopt, though the international schools in Asia appear to be incorporating this into school curricula several years ahead of other world regions.
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are identified as gaining traction, though not becoming mainstream for around 2-3 years. However, hybrid models such as the Flipped Classroom are proving successful in Asian international schools. In this model instructional videos are placed online for students to access from home, so that class time can be devoted to more hands-on and immersive activities. Free and open courses that can be accessed from anywhere are very appealing to parents and students. Currently over seventy students are taking over fifty different online courses as electives as ASB. This is our third year of offering a bouquet of online elective courses ranging in Culinary Arts to computer programming.
Students as Creators
Another trend that has been identified by international schools in Asia is the shift from students as consumers to students as creators. Rather than learners demonstrating their knowledge of a subject by taking tests and writing papers, they are increasingly being encouraged to create video reflections and bring their creative ideas to life by making new products. As a result, school leaders in Asia are starting to rethink their physical spaces and how the school day is structured to promote more critical thinking and creativity. Two years ASB completely redesigned its physical spaces so to maximize student learning in the 21st century.
The NMC report stresses that it’s important to address the issue of work/life balance as technology rapidly evolves and becomes more accessible. The report highlights the need for both teachers and students to understand how to maximize productivity online and with their various devices, while not relying on these tools too much. However these technologies, when applied effectively, can be powerful portals to personalized learning. A student’s collection of mobile apps reflects their interests and learning preferences. Giving students more autonomy over how they learn and what tools they use, is a growing trend at international schools in Asia.
Overall, according to the trends identified in this recent report, ASB is clearly ahead of the curve. In addition to what the report covered, we are a BYOD school who is exploring new innovations from Research and Development initiatives. The existence itself of an R&D department along with teacher and parent task forces currently makes us relatively unique, although with the growing attention it has drawn, we can predict that other schools in the region will soon be following this example.
With grateful acknowledgement to Maggie Hos-McGrane for co-authoring this article.