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Problems with ICT


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#1 Mike Toliver

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Posted 16 January 2005 - 01:43 PM

John asked those of us who raised problems in the "best practices" thread to start a new thread on problems. I think "best practices" and "problems" are inter-connected - every benefit of ICT has its downside. What matters is the balance.

Here's my list of some problems (which, like best practices, have their upside):

1. Every minute a person spends learning how to use computers is a minute that they're not devoting to learning the content of their field.

2. There is a tremendous amount of bad information available on the Internet, posing as good information. It takes a relatively mature person to be able to tell the difference. For students, this can be a major problem, because their motivation is often to get the assignment done as quickly as possible (and ICT allows students to get "information" very quickly) and they might well take the first 6 sources they find rather than taking the needed time to critically evaluate what they're seeing.

3. Computer presentations (e.g. Powerpoint) can be made quite "glitzy" without adding any benefit beyond what one could have had with a simple overhead. These "glitzy" features most often serve to distract the audience, rather than focus their attention on the subject at hand.

4. The seductive nature of CT easily leads to its mis-use. For example, one can obtain a CD containing images of great works of art, and with the right "gizmos" present that to an audience. This would seem to be an advance over slides and slide projectors. But the computer projected images are much poorer than slide projection. Our answer? Work to make the "gizmos" for computer projection better so they might some day be as good as the simpler and better slide technology we've abandoned.

5. It costs a lot, and once you're on the "technology treadmill" you've got to continually re-invest to "keep up to date". I have bought 5 new computers since 1986 (and I would have bought more, but fortunately my college is now buying my office computers for me). And I suspect I'm on the low end of new computer purchases. That's about ten thousand dollars I've spent on computers alone; and my college has spent and continues to spend hundreds of thousands to provide this stuff to staff and students.

#2 John Simkin

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 11:33 AM

I will be relying to this interesting posting in more detail later as you raise a lot of important issues.

I agree entirely with the statement that “Computer presentations (e.g. Powerpoint) can be made quite "glitzy" without adding any benefit beyond what one could have had with a simple overhead. These "glitzy" features most often serve to distract the audience, rather than focus their attention on the subject at hand.”

I find these presentation virtually unwatchable. They are rarely used creatively and usually reflect the values of the traditional lecture. In fact, I find it easier to concentrate on a poor lecture than I do for a poor Powerpoint presentation. What is even more frightening is that they have rapidly became the norm. I remember a sociologists (Stephen Ball) joined a class of Y9 students for a week. He discovered that virtually every lesson started with the giving out of a worksheet. He said this had a terrible impact on the students. I suspect if he did it today it would find that virtually every lesson would be started with a Powerpoint presentation.

#3 Andy Walker

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 01:30 PM

He discovered that virtually every lesson started with the giving out of a worksheet. He said this had a terrible impact on the students. I suspect if he did it today it would find that virtually every lesson would be started with a Powerpoint presentation.


I don't think things are really as bad as this. Not least because most schools lack the data projectors and laptops in classrooms to make it happen.

The curse of the PowerPoint seems to appear most regularly in the Teacher INSET/Visiting speaker on an INSET day slot. Its a sort of crutch for some presentators who seem to think that the whizzy PowerPoint is an essential feature of successful INSET. Have you noticed how they tend to read you the slides too? - just in case you have issues with literacy B) Very annoying if you are trying to read them yourself.

The worst example of this I have ever encountered was at a local University, (I mention no names because it is not fair to pick on Canterbury) where the speaker on a Teacher training day proceeded to control his laptop with his back to the audience crouched down to reach the controls. This gave the strangely apposite impression that he was actually talking through his bum!

PowerPoint however has its uses in education. I use it extensively on my Sociology Site to summarise and/or introduce topics. The idea however is that the student has this material to use from home as a revision tool.

It is also helpful to get students to summarise topics using PowerPoint in class. The nature of the slides forces them to precis material reducing it to key points. Younger classes also enjoy the opportunity to present their work to others. This helps with motivation and self esteem.

#4 Derek McMillan

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 04:56 PM

And the response of Year 7 pupils on learning that the first Framework unit is a powerpoint presentation? "Oh no not another powerpoint!"

I agree that there is a lot of dross among the information on the net but:

1) There are alternatives to the corporate media. Think of the independent media journalists picking up handfuls of rubber bullets off the sidewalk while the corporate media just repeated the police statement that they were not using rubber bullets in the Battle of Seattle.

2) How many pupils went to *six* sources when they went to the library to find information? I remember the old trick, find a text by a with references to x, y and z and then make it look as if you have read x, y and z as well!

3) The skill of sifting the information, comparing it with other sources and their own experience is one they will need in the future.

#5 John Simkin

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 05:16 PM

1) There are alternatives to the corporate media. Think of the independent media journalists picking up handfuls of rubber bullets off the sidewalk while the corporate media just repeated the police statement that they were not using rubber bullets in the Battle of Seattle.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


As a result of the Frank Church investigations (Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities) in 1975 it was discovered that in the late 1940s CIA began to recruit American journalists on a wide scale. This became known as Operation Mockingbird. The CIA used this system to disguise the truth about certain political events. This included using left-wing journalists such as Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson.

http://educationforu...?showtopic=2935

The Internet has made this much more difficult. In fact, several journalists have written about Operation Mockingbird and placed it free on the web.

Today Seymour Hersh published an article in the New Yorker about George Bush's plans to attack Iran this summer. The article immediately appeared on the Internet. However, you will not find it via Google. Instead, you will finf it here:

http://www.newyorker.../?050124fa_fact

#6 Mike Toliver

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 02:36 AM

Certainly students used the same tactics with library research "in the old days" that they use now with the Internet. And of course critical thinking is important whether you're using the Internet or the library or anything else. However, my concern is that there is a lot of crap out on the Internet that has virtually no "peer review". Any clown with an ax to grind can do so with ease on the 'Net. There is a certain amount of filtering that occurs when books and articles are ordered for or from the library which is entirely lacking on the Internet.

It is wonderful that political chicanery can be exposed on the Internet - I applaud it. But I certainly don't want my students to rely solely on the Internet for their information.

#7 John Simkin

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 08:05 AM

I wonder if Operation Mockingbird still exists. It could explain the following article:

http://educationforu...?showtopic=2950

#8 John Simkin

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Posted 21 January 2005 - 04:17 PM

The seductive nature of CT easily leads to its mis-use.  For example, one can obtain a CD containing images of great works of art, and with the right "gizmos" present that to an audience.  This would seem to be an advance over slides and slide projectors.  But the computer projected images are much poorer than slide projection.  Our answer?  Work to make the "gizmos" for computer projection better so they might some day be as good as the simpler and better slide technology we've abandoned.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


A week ago I emailed all members (1,116) asking them to post details of what they had done (or seen done) with ICT that has improved the quality of teaching/learning, that would have been impossible/difficult to achieve without ICT?

http://educationforu...?showtopic=2884

However, so far only seven people have done this. Does this mean that even members have been unable to remember good things that they have done with ICT?

#9 Raymond Blair

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Posted 22 January 2005 - 06:52 AM

My biggest concern with ICT is that the more technology one uses, the more can go wrong.

Shared resources cannot always be depended uopn to be available.

I am very optimistic about smartboard technology and hopes it evolved fairly quickly into a easy touch and easy control with mobile pad to use as a whate board, internet access, and stored presentation device.

I like to find ICT to use in the classroom but I find that I often can get more done with some creative thought and available hard copy resources.

I also tend not to find the fit I want. In this way I think our libraries and book publishers are behind the times. While libraries have access to more and more extensive periodical databases, they could be stocking up on ICT deviced such at interective CD/Roms or better yet subscriptions to image and video/audio clip databases.

Education material providers could be packaging these materials and marketing them much more agressively. It would seem that a combination ICT hardware, text book, and ICT files.software would be enough revenues for those businesses to go after more effectively.

To date the ICT support that accompanies my text books is always full of promise on first glance and disappointment in reality.

#10 Sumir Sharma

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Posted 22 January 2005 - 03:17 PM

A side view on ICT in the Classroom: Current Good Practice and forthcoming meeting at Toulouse

The problem must be in the way we teach it. That it is information that they only need to help them pass an exam. Once the exam is over, the information can be discarded, as it so often is. The same goes for most of the information we give them.”
John Simkin
Prince Harry: History Teachers to Blame?
Non-Academic Discussions


I seek permission to reframe the quote, “Once the exam is over, the information about history is discarded and it is often done by the students.” And
“The problem must be in the way we teach it.”

It is also my experience. It pains when you find that your students do not remember those things which you as teacher of history was suppose to teach them but his teaching or his product does not become a part of their consciousness. History is a collective consciousness. It is that consciousness which makes your society, define its contours and prepare it for the future. Remove that consciousness, you may have your present but not your society and any sociologist can explain that how important it is. Thus, we can not overlook the fact which has come up in Non-Academic Discussions.

The history teachers should not get agitated by the remark that the History Teachers are to be blamed for the act of Prince Harry. They must try to accept the problem, which the history teaching is facing. It is the major problem that we are not able to give to the society what is expected of us to give. The Prince Harry case can be a timely occurrence which could be used to ponder on some thing more substantial.

Do we find the similar response from students in case of other subjects especially the general sciences? It will be wrong to accept that the same thing happens in case of the students of Medicine and Engineering. They do not forget what they learn in their classes. They learn and carry it to their professional field.

In case of our students, they do not carry the aim of learning the history to their life and the society.

John Simkin has already raised the question. It should be the first “problem and practice” issue in the forthcoming February meeting.

My point is that there is need to understand and identify that which is the right definition of history with which the history teacher can proceed in teaching his subject. The ICT project is a means and not the aim. It is a strong contention that we all are not clear about this fact.

In order to give points to think over right course of the history teaching, the nature of the product which the world of history teaching and history as the field of knowledge should give to the society, some practical activities which had been undertaken earlier should be taken up for the discussion. These practices were basically taken up by such government setups which are identified with theocratic governments and Totalitarian governments. What we can learn from them is that how they had used history to communicate the perception and how we can use history with more fruitful and positive manner. I am referring to education plans as adopted by Napoleon, Islamic countries, Hitler and Stalin minus their aims. Well it is one view. A confabulation on the issue of the right product which the history should provide at school level and efficacy of the teaching method of delivering this product, so that the learning from history should remain for longer period as the student has left the school, should be undertaken. The ICT project and its related practices should given a place of possibility which could help in that direction. It should not become the major issue of discussion.

Secondly, John Simkin has been stressing the point that people should not be historians but should think like a historian. Yes, this is one of the major benefit that historians can help the society to get. The Scientists in the field of general sciences are very good in their laboratory. Our field of knowledge can make people scientific in their day to day life.

Thirdly, History is combination of three things viz. It is a science, an art and a literature. The ICT concept, I visualize, is part of an art. The ICT should help in presenting the facts by absorbing technology. The field of History should never become subordinate or second field to ICT concept. I have developed this feeling while reading the problems faced, I believe, by Mike Tribe, David Richardson Högskolan and the young scholar Fidel Sciamanna. Hence, the stress should be how the use of technology could make the presentation of history more effective but the spirit of history should not be overlooked and made subordinate to use of technology only.

I understand that the meeting at Toulouse (17th February – 20th February) has a specific agenda and background of a substantial and well thought out activity which has been going on in the schools under the project ICT.

Many teachers and some students like Fidel Sciamanna have very nicely come up with some practical problems in execution of the ICT project. Such problems will definitely come in discussion in the meeting.

I was just trying to visualize that what direction would the discussion take. I could imagine, that there would be discussion on use of type of the hardwares more suitable for the project, the various softwares, finance problems, dealing with the financing agency or the government etc.

However, what is ICT? Is it not an endeavour to absorb technology for teaching purpose? Technology in itself is nothing. It becomes important only when the society absorbs technology and achieves better results. Had that technological advance not been there, it would not have achieved better results. This is the only importance of the technology. Otherwise, through technology, worst things are also done and more harm is brought to the society.

The problem which are being raised before the meeting, are such problems which may be solved by the march of the technology itself. I feel, the major problem is financing, convincing the government agencies which are financing it and content matters. I wish the content matter would be discussed in light of views given above and should become the main agenda. As far as other problems which are being faced, like the use of different gadgets for filming and their compatibility with the available softwares on ones system, the efficacy of Power Point Presentation and similar problem like frequent changes in the configuration of the system which cause lot of investment etc, will become immaterial with the march of technology. I remember that I had a fight with one of a very illustrious colleague of mine, Prof. (Late) J. K. Bhandari, from Department of English (a person who could have been a great asset for projects like ICT and Graham Davies and other people from Language field would have loved to communicate with him), who was genius of computer applications, on the question of using Microsoft Word or Adobe Page Maker for writing articles. He used to end our fight by saying, “Arye Bhai”, soon such things would become immaterial. One should only develop ones own skill in using computer in his field of knowledge.

I was just wondering if this meeting would also be attended by some experts from media. It is a feeling that internet, computer and communication technology have given a bigger role to media studies. It is the concern of Media studies to tell how a presentation can be made more perfect and effective so that it can reach target audience in the right manner and the desired results can be achieved. If the history teachers are clear about the role of their subject and its role for the benefit of society, then they could get more benefit from the experts of media studies. In addition to that the experts from designing and engineering department can be an added help. Then not only a prince, but also a commoner can also become sensitive to issues which are only learned from the collective consciousness and the past.

#11 Vladimir Havlicek

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Posted 24 May 2005 - 10:39 AM

key words: PowerPoint, cretivity, practical use ICT in VET

PowerPoint IMHO is useful a) for beginers for his (her) own first creative action and b) for viewing a nice photos (fine arts works for example), but in other aplications is guzzler of the time. Watining or ineffectual clicking for next page is a dead time. So called "presentations" are only for waiting persons, having nothing to do.

Important is own creativity of pupils and students. In VET (electronics) I prefer primarily colection of measured data on to writing-book, drawing graph by the hand and than secondarily entering to the table, assigning formulas, trying the best arangement and finaly creating graph (if exist), than write main text, add main parts from table into text and add graph. This is usefuly, than filling pre-prepared tables and coping text from any sources (from net, etd.). Computer is above all a tool, not cinema.

#12 Graham Davies

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  • Interests:I began my career as a teacher of German and French in secondary education in 1965, moving into higher education in 1971, where I taught German (and also English as a Foreign Language to students training to become professional translators) until 1993. I have been involved in Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) since 1976. In 1982 I wrote one of the first introductory books on computers in language learning and teaching, which was followed by numerous other printed and software publications. In 1989 I was conferred with the title of Professor of CALL by the Academic Board of Ealing College of Higher Education (later integrated into Thames Valley University). I retired from full-time teaching in 1993 but I continued to work as a Visiting Professor for Thames Valley University until 2001. I was the Founder President of EUROCALL, holding the post from 1993 to 2000. I am a partner in Camsoft, a CALL software development and consultancy business, which was founded in 1982. I have lectured and run ICT training courses for language teachers in 22 different countries and I sit on a number of national and international advisory boards and committees. I have been actively involved in WorldCALL since 1998 and I currently head a working party that is in the process of setting up WorldCALL as an official organisation that aims to assist countries that are currently underserved in the area of ICT and the teaching and learning of modern foreign languages. I am fluent in German, I speak tolerable French, and I can survive in Italian, Russian and Hungarian. I enjoy golf, skiing, walking my dog (a retired racing greyhound) and travelling. I used to scuba-dive regularly - my last dive was on the Great Barrier Reef in 1998 - but now I just swim at my local fitness centre.

Posted 24 May 2005 - 01:21 PM

PowerPoint presentations, if properly produced, are an excellent way of enhancing whole-class teaching, e.g. in modern foreign languages we make a lot of use of audio-enhanced (with native speaker recordings) PowerPoint presentations and presentations that make use of animation to emphasise a tricky point of grammar, e.g. the way in which the main verb in German moves to the end of a subordinate clause.

There is also a good deal of scope using PowerPoint presentations for interactive group work, e.g. in combination with interactive whiteboads such as those produced by Smart or Promethean, e.g. as exemplified in materials produced by the REvIEW Project (see below).

However, PowerPoint presentations can be deadly boring - search the Web in Google for the phrase "Death by PowerPoint" and you'll see what I mean. Many, many PowerPoint presentations that I have sat through have paid scant attention to readable font sizes and colouor combinations.

See:

À Tantôt: A website that provides French and German online resources which are designed to be used in class on an interactive whiteboard. Resources include videos, starter and plenary activities, games, useful links and much more: http://www.atantot.com

Promethean: http://www.promethean.co.uk

Smart Technologies: http://www.smarttech.com

Greenwich LEA: A useful article entitled "Interactive whiteboards - a luxury too far?": http://www.g2fl.gree...emp/whiteboards

REvIEW Project: Research and Evaluation of Interactive Electronic Whiteboards, University of Hull in collaboration with Promethean: http://www.thereviewproject.org. Supported by NESTA FutureLab: http://www.nestafuturelab.org



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