The 4Cs of Lifelong Technology

Jodie Lopez

Jodie Lopez is a self-confessed geek and proud of it. Her career started in sales and customer service, and she left this to become a Primary teacher. She is now a freelance consultant and founder of lovEdtech. Jodie speaks at conferences for schools about using technology on a shoestring. Jodie is passionate about ensuring that every penny spent on tech in schools is both fit for purpose and keeps teachers coming back for more!

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The 4 Cs of Education - Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking - are well embedded in lots of schools. The principles of each do not always have to incorporate technology, of course, but I am going to focus on that angle as I think it's really crucial to how students approach technology use beyond their school years also.

Firstly we will consider Collaboration. Although there are lots of opportunities given in school for collaboration in groups and teams, from quick conversations through to group projects, it's online where collaboration can mimic, and therefore prepare students for, the world of work. There are an increasing number of jobs where remote working and flexible working is in option. Collaboration via technology, and cloud-based systems, is key to ensuring teams can work together, whether they are all working on one document or collating documents and work together in one online folder for dissemination across the company. There are plenty of tools which schools are using for this already in an educational setting - Google Drive and Microsoft O365 are examples of this. The Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams tools have been developed following feedback from schools who wanted to take online working further for their students.

This also leads nicely into the second C - Communication. Again there are options in Microsoft and Google suites which encourage communication. Many other more educational technology products also facilitate this. Learning Platforms in many forms, including home-school communications and homework tools, all form part of a wider communication structure in any organisation. In business a popular tool is Slack, which many schools also use for staff communications even if not for students. Whatsapp is also increasingly common as a communication tool for education and work, not just for social chats and organising nights out!

C 4

Creativity is the third C and probably the trickiest to pin down. Is using a "creative" tool such as iPad drawing apps or online movie making tools classed as genuine creativity? Maybe so. But also creativity can be defined as simply finding new, better or more efficient, ways of doing things we have always done. In schools this may manifest as using video tools such as Flip Grid for Pupil Voice, or using VR to teach someone about a situation they have not experienced before. In work places technology may allow for more creative ways of running a team across multiple continents, or finding a way to cut costs by using new technology to calculate packaging needs.

Finally we come to the 4th C - Critical Thinking. Here things get really exciting in education and in the workplace. Critical Thinking has the capacity to change the world, even if often only for a specific need. The ability to evaluate what we do, think of entirely new inventions, and the capacity to see that through to fruition, are very tricky skills to build authentically into the curriculum. Yet programmes such as Apps for Good, who got to schools and also run national competitions, have resulted in students creating amazing new apps with a view to making genuine change in the world.

C 6

More generally, anything we do to use technology in a positive way, being the role models in front of students and giving them opportunities to try multiple ways of working and applying their skills across the curriculum, the more likely it is that we give them the skills that will follow them through life - making them more likely to go past what can be a very superficial application of technology and social media.

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