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John Simkin

Government's E-Learning Strategy

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This is the 'theoretical' bit of the post I've just written …

The first thing that strikes you about e-learning is that it seems to cost a lot of money! There's infrastructure to invest in; the students seem to need loads of equipment; and the materials cost the earth to produce. The organisational response is then to spend ever-increasing amounts to achieve ever-diminishing returns, until the whole thing fizzles out!

However, I think that the basic problem is that everyone's acting without thinking things through first - which is always a recipe for high budgets!

One problem with infrastructure investment that I've come across again and again is the desire to standardise at too detailed a level. For example, "everyone has to have Windows XP". As soon as you standardise sensibly, such as "everyone has to have access to a computer connected up to the Internet", things open up. This is why we use open web pages at the moment - we trade off copyright protection against eliminating the need to distribute passwords and user names. This is a pedagogical decision: I don't want the first experience our students have with our courses to be the equivalent of the US Customs and Immigration Service.

The 'access' is important too - occasionally we need to use more sophisticated equipment and programmes than you can reasonably expect people to buy themselves … but that's what libraries and Study Centres are all about. (You can read more about Study Centres at http://www.nitus.se/ - then click on the Union Jack). There are other great advantages of Study Centres - they have friendly, local staff, and they encourage students to see learning as a social activity.

When it comes to materials production, the problem is that organisations and governments want spips ('spip' means "Something Posh to Impress the Punters" - it's a term I coined a few years ago to describe projects whose basic function is to justify the spending of project funds, rather than to do anything useful). It's difficult to quantify (and include in the PR material) the feelings of encouragement and supportiveness our Internet tutor in Queensland gives our on-line students - and yet, without them, many of our students would fall at the first hurdle.

If your level of ambition is lower, you can actually produce materials that work at much lower cost. We create plenty of income for our department, so they're prepared to make the modest investments in time and programmes we need in order to produce our e-learning materials. Doing it this way means that we get what we want, and we feel that it makes our lives easier and more fun - the perfect recipe for greater fulfilment at work.

The day may come when we've produced things which are worth investing much more time and money in … or it may not. We're working in a niche-based environment, though, where the idea that it makes sense to have a 'one-size-fits-all' solution is alien. What's more likely is that individual course elements may be tarted up a bit, but even this isn't essential. One unexpected feature of our crude web pages is that students feel at home with them - we don't want them to get too sophisticated.

Underlying all this is a feeling that the paradigm currently being used by many organisations is basically wrong. My thinking has been inspired by Alvin Toffler's 'Third Wave'. 'First wave' education mirrored first wave society: an aristocratic elite received a lot of personal attention, which was paid for by the sweat of uneducated peasants and slaves. Thus you had Socrates and the Athenian world-wide web (i.e. instead of going out and looking for inputs, they eventually turned up on the Agora and could be examined and questioned).

Second wave education was all about mass production - you needed a certain minimum level of education for the masses so that they could operate the machines. Thereafter you leave things to ever-specialised experts. There might be all sorts of clever things being done in the laboratories and testbeds, but the ultimate aim is to develop something which can be mass-produced.

I'd say that this is precisely where the UK government's e-learning strategy is … which is why it won't work, since we've moved on from the second wave now.

The problem with describing third wave education is that we are only on the threshold of it. However, just as the second wave took with it features of the first, I think that the third wave in education will be a synthesis of the preceding two. This would imply combining the level of attention to the individual typified by the first wave Oxford don's Study, with the universal access of the second wave state education system. Before we had computers and IT technology, this was prohibitively expensive … and anyway, it wasn't what society thought it needed.

But why move on at all? If Toffler is to be believed (a moot question, that), the reason is that we have no choice. Just as the second wave armies cut the first wave ones to shreds (most of the time, although the Polish cavalry eventually gave Charles X of Sweden a run for his money), third wave learners are going to be, en masse, just much more useful to our world - and much more fulfilled as people - than second wave ones.

The problem at the organisational level is that all the things the organisation can usefully invest in are just precursors to development. The government can write out a 'strategy', and the university can buy us all a computer, but the real development takes place on a person-to-person level. And guess who's both closest to that level, and the only person capable of making the development happen? The teacher! Which is why the second-wave strategy of de-skilling teachers and investing in technology is, IMHO, bound to fail.

Edited by David Richardson

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Just to add my bit regarding the Australian context. Australia has been very active in the area of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), going back to the early 1980s. Melbourne University hosted the first WorldCALL conference (1998) - the second took place in Banff (Canada) in May last year: http://www.worldcall.org

Griffith University is the designated HQ of WorldCALL when it is finally set up as an official professional association later this year.

Prominent people in CALL in Australia include:

Uschi Felix & Sally Staddon (Monash University)

Robert Debski & June Gassin (Melbourne University)

Mike Levy (Griffith University)

All have published extensively.

There is an informal association ATELL (Association for Technology Enhanced Language Learning) and an online journal ON-CALL, now merged with CALL-EJ in Japan: http://www.cltr.uq.edu.au/oncall/home.html

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When it comes to materials production, the problem is that organisations and governments want spips ('spip' means "Something Posh to Impress the Punters" - it's a term I coined a few years ago to describe projects whose basic function is to justify the spending of project funds, rather than to do anything useful). It's difficult to quantify (and include in the PR material) the feelings of encouragement and supportiveness our Internet tutor in Queensland gives our on-line students - and yet, without them, many of our students would fall at the first hurdle.

This mirrors my own experience of dealing with large organizations. The main concern seems to be with an “excellent photo opportunity” and a “killer press release”. A headmaster friend of mine was a member of a government advisory committee looking into the training of future head teachers. He told me that their initial recommendation (a virtual college) was rejected by the government because it did not provide a good photo opportunity.

It is the image rather than reality that matters. After all, if it is something really useful, it will not became fully effective for several years. That might well mean that when it does become fully operational the person who has commissioned the work has moved on and will not get the credit for it. Therefore heads of organizations are more interested in the short-term image than the long-term reality.

Underlying all this is a feeling that the paradigm currently being used by many organisations is basically wrong. My thinking has been inspired by Alvin Toffler's 'Third Wave'. 'First wave' education mirrored first wave society: an aristocratic elite received a lot of personal attention, which was paid for by the sweat of uneducated peasants and slaves. Thus you had Socrates and the Athenian world-wide web (i.e. instead of going out and looking for inputs, they eventually turned up on the Agora and could be examined and questioned).

Second wave education was all about mass production - you needed a certain minimum level of education for the masses so that they could operate the machines. Thereafter you leave things to ever-specialised experts. There might be all sorts of clever things being done in the laboratories and testbeds, but the ultimate aim is to develop something which can be mass-produced.

I'd say that this is precisely where the UK government's e-learning strategy is … which is why it won't work, since we've moved on from the second wave now.

Completely agree with this. One of the major problems of all large organizations attitude towards the web is that they assumed it followed the normal rules of capitalism. Soon after the web emerged so-called experts were claiming that it was very much like the rush for land in America. It was all about grabbing territory, putting up boundary fences, and hoping you had got land with gold or silver under the ground. Or more importantly, that the territory will prove in the long term to have strategic importance. For example, those lucky people who managed to grab land in New York.

It was argued that once you had your territory you used a large sum of money to dominant a particular market. Once you established yourself as the dominant player you could then charge high prices for the service you provided. Investors believed this message and bought the shares of these companies. However, the web does not work like this. Unlike other forms of production, small groups of people, even committed individuals can compete with the multinationals. By providing their services free at the point of delivery, they can completely undermine any business plan. Therefore it has become extremely difficulty for any large company to recover the investment they have made in establishing their territory. This was the major reason for the slump in share prices and has been a major factor in the recent decline in the American economy. Like the original gold rush, it has been the people selling the tools rather than the people with the territory, who have made the money.

A good example of this is Amazon. They spent a fortune in the early years of the web to ensure that it dominated the book selling market. It has been unable to do this but now has a large share of the market. However, it is not in a position, nor will it ever be, to use its power to increase its profits. Any attempt to increase its prices will result in a fall in business. The reason being that on the web it is very easy to switch to an alternative supplier. Margins will always remain low and therefore Amazon has no chance of recouping its original investment. The same is true of all the other companies that invested heavily in the internet in its early years.

The web poses a real threat to the capitalism. The capitalist system will survive because it will adapt to these changing circumstances. However, it will never be the same. In some areas, such as the communication industries, the power of the multinationals, will be severely undermined.

The problem with describing third wave education is that we are only on the threshold of it. However, just as the second wave took with it features of the first, I think that the third wave in education will be a synthesis of the preceding two. This would imply combining the level of attention to the individual typified by the first wave Oxford don's Study, with the universal access of the second wave state education system. Before we had computers and IT technology, this was prohibitively expensive … and anyway, it wasn't what society thought it needed.

I agree we are on the threshold of the third wave but do not agree that it will be a “synthesis of the preceding two”. I say that because I am not convinced that most activists on the web have yet realised its true potential.

Let us take the world of education. In the past, what went on in the classroom, was largely the result of pressures being applied by certain powerful forces: education ministers and the resulting government legislation, government educational committees, government inspectors, examination boards and educational publishers. At one time subject advisers and teacher educators had a significant say in what went on in the classroom but in recent years this has gone into dramatic decline.

On the surface, the individual teacher has a great deal of freedom to do what they wanted in the classroom. In reality the teacher’s behaviour is largely shaped by forces outside his or her control. This has been made worse by the way we now educate teachers (see for example Andy Walker’s recent comments on this).

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=251

Young teachers are much more likely to think that the way they teach is the way they want to teach. It is more likely to be those teachers who trained in the 1960s and 1970s, and who have observed the ways things have changed over the last 20 years, who will ask questions about what they are being told to do in the classroom.

The trends in education over the last 20 years have been depressing. However, I believe the nature of the web will enable us to make significant progress in fulfilling people’s educational potential. The main reason I say this is that the web has the ability to empower teachers. For example, traditionally, educational publishers have had a significant influence over what goes on in the classroom. Teachers in the 1960s and 1970s were aware of that and so it was vitally important for the "progressives" to produced their own materials.

Developments in technology in the 1980s made it more difficult to compete with the commercial educational publishers. For example, the emergence of CD-ROMs and cheap colour printing in third world countries, made it very difficult for teachers and even small companies, to compete in terms of the look of the product (the educational content was another matter but that was often a secondary factor in the decision-making of the teacher).

The development of the web is an example of technology redistributing power downwards. In fact, the very size of the organization producing educational content actually works against it. Those multinational organizations who invested millions of pounds in producing educational content on the web have no chance of ever recovering their investment. In fact, without the government providing schools with e-learning credits and offering lucrative contracts to produce content, they would have all closed down their internet operations by now.

Individual teachers on the other hand can produce high quality materials at a very low financial cost (although not a small cost in time). As the Fischer Trust survey shows, it is these materials that are being used in the classroom. Even when the multinational companies were offering their materials free of charge (before the introduction of e-learning credits) teachers were still choosing to use the materials produced by fellow members of the profession. That is not surprising given the motivation behind the production of the materials. Although the multinationals employed teachers as advisers, they rarely took account of that advice. Nor were the teachers employed to produce this material given enough freedom to produce what they thought was needed.

To make the maximum impact teachers will need to organize themselves. The web provides all the necessary features for this to happen. The Association of Teacher Websites was created by email communication. This Educational Forum is another example of how educators can join forces to enable teachers to have more control over what goes on in the classroom. It enables teachers from all over the world to discuss ideas, organize educational projects and to create online materials. What is more it is cheap to do (in money but not in time).

This is a revolutionary development. A government agency or a large multinational organization cannot compete with us. To do it their way they would have to pay contributors. This forum is completely democratic. The influence that an individual member has is determined by the quality of their ideas and the time they are willing to give to posting.

In most fields of activity capitalism will continue to dominate. However, in education, I suspect we are about to undergo a grassroots revolution that in future will place the emphasis on collaboration rather than competition.

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Interesting input from John. I confess: I'm one of those 1970s-trained teachers (Goldsmiths' 1976-77), and, as a teacher trainer nowadays, I agree that one of the big challenges is to get trainees and young teachers to think for themselves - and to think outside the box. Sweden's got a national curriculum … but it lacks the detailed targets and general outside government interference that seem to grace the UK.

In a cynical sense, I ought not to be even trying. In my field of English teaching, I'll always have a job putting right the misconceptions about how English works that the school system has taught my students! The same goes for IT-based education too. One of the big problems with spips is that they aren't really much use, once the VIPs have moved on, but they've cost a lot of money.

Here's another example of the kind of development John described in this last posting. I've just been in the frozen north of Sweden for two days to start work on a new IT-based course for the Swedish Army. You'll find the website here:

http://www.humsam.hik.se/distans/metois/metoisindex.htm.

However, there won't be much to see for a few weeks, since we're now in the materials-production stage.

This course has got a lot of the characteristics of the IT-based courses I've worked with in the last few years (strange, that, since I'm designing this one too!): the students are more or less 'static' at the military training base in Östersund, but the teachers are highly mobile (since the entire mainland Britain would fit in the space between Östersund and where I live). The course is niche-based: there aren't many technical officers in the Army, and they need rather a different course from line officers. There aren't any off-the-shelf materials - no-one's going to produce a textbook which could only be bought by a few hundred individuals at most. The whole situation is new: the Swedish Army has only just started requiring all the officers to serve abroad if needed. And I don't know anything about the technical area covered - I'm an English teacher … but I've got a very co-operative major helping me.

The course production budget is around 25,000 SEK, or, let us say, £2000, and just about all of that is in my time. However, when we've finished, we'll have a course which will run with minimal editing and re-writing for at least three years, so you could argue that each year's course production cost is under £700.

Now, I know that it's going to be a fun course, which the participants are going to see as unique for them, with lots of features of life in Kosovo which they can readily identify with. That's going to help them to learn, since the 'dramaturgy' of the course (to borrow Hillar Loor's terminology) invites them in and gets them involved over a 10 week period. We've created a 'county' in Kosovo where everything happens.

We've got the technology we need already - anything we don't have we'll do without. I'll be writing tape scripts and recording them on my Mac using SoundStudio (a cheapo sound editing programme). We'll be taking digital photos, and my colleague in the Army will have to set up some convincing typical faults on Army vehicles in the workshop to be photographed. There'll be an audio CD, some Flash animations (mostly problem-solving exercises), a web site and some printed materials, all sharing the same graphic profile.

And the good thing will be that once all this is done, we teachers will be able to concentrate on working with the students as individuals. We'll still be using IT tools for communication … such as the telephone! (Well, there'll be an hour of ISDN-based video conferencing and a couple of hours of Marratech meetings.)

Now, as John points out, how is a commercial supplier of teaching materials ever going to be able to compete with this? I remember a situation a couple of years ago when we were preparing technical English materials for a distance centre linking St Petersburg and Sweden, when we tried to inflate our costs as much as we could … but we still couldn't get them over about £20,000. Our counterparts from the publishing world were going to start with £1,000,000. And, in the end, guess who actually produced a working course!

We may well be heading for the 'dark ages' of materials production in a few years when people of my generation retire … but what I'm doing isn't rocket science! I'm just trying to solve real problems with the tools I have available. As the young teachers coming through find that their lives as teachers are increasingly stultifying, and that nothing seems to work, I think that there's a very good chance that they'll re-invent the wheel I work with now, and that things will get back on track.

BTW, what I meant by a 'synthesis' of 1st and 2nd waves is personal contact and support (from the 1st wave) on a mass basis (from the 2nd wave). After that, there are probably going to be lots and lots of differences. On the other hand, in my field of language teaching, there's probably only been one real innovation in the last 2000 years (the tape recorder) - just about everything we do now was being done by the Greeks in Roman times, they just didn't do it with so many people at the same time!

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I confess: I'm one of those 1970s-trained teachers (Goldsmiths' 1976-77), and, as a teacher trainer nowadays, I agree that one of the big challenges is to get trainees and young teachers to think for themselves - and to think outside the box. Sweden's got a national curriculum … but it lacks the detailed targets and general outside government interference that seem to grace the UK.

I have a confession too: Goldsmiths' 1964-65 (German and French PGCE), and now a free-lance ICT trainer. I agree with David. The National Curriculum is far too prescriptive and dreadfully jargon-ridden. As a former teacher of German and French who grew up in the tradition of thinking for myself, I am appalled by the MFL National Curriculum. It's largely superfluous anyway. The Council of Europe has done years of groundwork on designing the Common European Framework for Languages, which is used as a yardstick by many European countries. But what do we do in the UK? We do our own thing: Fog in the Channel. Continent Cut Off!

See my article at:

http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/ictmfl.htm

"Information and Communications Technology and Modern Foreign Languages in the National Curriculum: some personal views"

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One of the questions I put to the ICT KS3 strategy unit was, "Have you done any research into different teaching and learning styles in the context of e-learning." I am still waiting for a reply.

I am interested in finding recent research on the impact that including ICT has had on student's learning. Any suggestions on where to start. Needless to say I have done Google etc and come up with a forest, glut and plethora of junk. How about authoratative information?

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I am interested in finding recent research on the impact that including ICT has had on student's learning.  Any suggestions on where to start.  Needless to say I have done Google  etc and come up with a forest, glut and plethora of junk. How about authoratative information?

The Fischer Family Trust have carried out some scale research into this. For example, it has just carried out some research to see if online revision results in higher GCSE grades. Researchers analysed data on more than 80,000 pupils, of which 31,000 had been using the revision programme SAM Learning, which teaches pupils to mark their work using the same techniques as examiners and reveals how they can score points even when they do not know a full answer. The research concludes that this revision scheme can raise the proportion of pupils who gain five good GCSE grades by at least 5 per cent.

http://www.fischertrust.org/

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I am interested in finding recent research on the impact that including ICT has had on student's learning. Any suggestions on where to start. Needless to say I have done Google etc and come up with a forest, glut and plethora of junk. How about authoratative information?

Concrete evidence is difficult to obtain, although a report on a research study conducted by BECTA, ImpaCT2, has produced significant data: http://www.becta.org.uk/research/impact2

The ImpaCT2 study shows that schools using ICT in the classroom get better results than those that do not, and there is a significant correlation between the use of ICT and good GCSE exam results in some subject areas. But in other subject areas there is no significant difference.

My local comprehensive school (Cox Green) introduced ICT into the teaching of Modern Foreign Languages in the 1990s. Each week students have one hour per week in the computer lab, working on material directly relating to what they have been taught in class. Following the introduction of regular ICT sessions their GCSE exam results improved by 5% each year over a period of three years - and then levelled off. You can read the Cox Green case study in Module 3.1 at the ICT4LT website: http://www.ict4lt.org

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Secondly create something akin to an AST post for teachers, whose expertise naturally lies with teaching, learning and creating resources that are effective within their community. Give them non-contact time and secondment to commercial firms to make mutually effective resources - it does work.
Why? because the "knowledge economy" is without doubt the one thing that will transform society in the near future and the most valuable resource - the engine that drives that and always has - is a teacher. They are the most valuable asset in this whole enterprise and it is only within a local context that they are most effective. I have always argued for teachers to be at the very central process of making and managing e-learning materials. Commercial firms can bring the technical and marketing expertise but the teachers need to be given the central role in coming up with the ideas of what works.

Back before my time, a knowledgable person collection a parcel of information and published this as a "book". Teachers took this to classrooms and students all had to look at the same page and learned together. It certainly made exams easier to set and mark. Next, teachers read widely, photocopied information and took sheets of paper to classrooms.

Now, we skim and scan widely, download and ask students to watch a screen at school or work from home.

I cannot teach the same material over and over. I change to suit the needs of my class members. (Remember skimming through a variety of sources to find the better way to make information more accessible to young Jimmy?)

In some ways we are going backwards because so many of us are constantly reinventing the wheel. It's time to recognise that teachers have skills in changing information to knowledge. How can we find a way to include active teachers into the production process of e-learning materials? I like the AST post as long as individuals do not end up totally out of the classroom.

The suggestion that things are different in US schools is interesting. I am not convinced that teachers there have the same autonomy as Australian teachers. I would not dare to do more than one multiple choice quiz in a term and I would never use anything similar in an English classroom without being lynched by students.

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There is a tremendous depth of vision on this topic.

As one who in school found it very difficult to use the technology to support my learning objectives in History I have despaired at the directions that the market and the technologists have taken us.

It tends to be technical gadgetry rather than educational utility that is driving commercial companies and the so called "ICT experts" in LEAs, consortia and in some schools.

As the technical interface for individual institutions needed to be cracked first they set off at a fast pace to explore accessibility in terms of bandwidth, broadband and related technical issues. This was necessary but not a sufficient condition for using ICT in a school setting. But by then the technologists were dictating the specification of learning materials and tools.

For me, the real accessibility issue is: can all staff and students use this piece of kit to raise learning standards?

I've found this a very disarming question to ask of the purveyors of ICT for schools :

"What will this do to raise standards in my school?"

The silence has usually been deafening, particularly at BETT, where a number of companies seem increasingly to be asked this question. It would be wrong to suggest that teachers are disillusioned with ICT - they are disillusioned that so few of the ICT purveyors have any real understanding of the learning process and the realities of teaching in schools.

Some broad principles apply:

1. A piece of ICT kit or software will not raise standards unless all users, staff and students, can access it from their existing ICT skill base. It therefore makes sense to build kit around basic word processing skills that are universally accessible rather than build a whole system around everyone needing to acquire a new skill set simply to operate the kit.

2. Secondly, given the relative scarcity of IT kit in schools - few can, or will, be able to boast one to one provision ratios of laptops for instance, it makes sense to build around web based solutions which can be accessed from any browser equipped PC.

3. Rather than present teachers with alternative teaching and learning paradigms which are technically determined, allow them to use the technology to improve their current pedagogical technique and to explore new approaches and methodologies gradually.

4. Ensure the IT solutions employed reduce administrative workload - this will mean that the IT kit should enable some admin. spring cleaning - IT admin systems should be used instead of, rather than as well as, existing paper systems.

Marking, external verification of student portfolios and curriculum collaborations fit in the admin workload issues. (indeed the thrust of the new 14-19 provisions wil demand a simple universally operable system which shools, colleges, training providers, employers and parents can access to build a vibrant and sustainable curriculum of excellence irrespective of the particualr curriculum pathway).

5. Use IT systems to provide qualitative management information systems - which allow teachers to lead and manage using student learning outcomes as benchmarks for raising performance. Again this requires an online portfolio solution which can be used both for student tracking and professional development.

I'm sure such a gradualist and inclusive approach will do much to alleviate the disillusionment with the constant failure of ICT to deliver measurable learning gains in schools and colleges.

:)

Need to go and lie down now as I seem to be repeating this analysis on a daily basis at the moment!

David Hughes

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Interesting post, David. I've already copied it to some of the people here at the university I work at in Sweden.

The technology is called Information and Communication Technology. I think that part of the problem is that it's easy to test and set benchmarks for the quality of the Information bit - but amazingly difficult to do the same for the Communication bit, unless you count teachers and learners in as equal partners. Sure you can test the technical aspects of the Communication, but it's really hard to test the quality of the pedagogical contact unless you include the users.

Then it depends on how you see teaching and learning. If you think that what we're all doing is purveying information, then outside experts in information technology become incredibly important. I don't remember how many times I've seen proposals for revolutionising teaching which boil down to employing a few graphic designers and programmers to jazz up teacher's lecture notes.

If, on the other hand, you see teaching and learning as social activities which depend intimately on the quality of contacts between specific and real people, then the quality and ease of use of communications technology becomes really important.

In the early days of Internet in Sweden, I spoke at quite a few teachers' conferences about the new technology. The first question was always about child pornography, and I always had a lot of explaining to do to show people that the Internet was more than a communications network for paedophiles!

I used to say to teachers then: bad things happen, even without the Internet, so how have you always prepared your pupils to face such a world? If you think that it's just a matter of getting the right information to the right people at the right time, you're going to be replaced by computers tomorrow. But wasn't our job as teachers always to teach judgement, discrimination (in the neutral sense of the word) and the ability to weigh up arguments on their merits? I think that 'wired-up' teaching requires more of the traditional skills teachers have always had, rather than fewer!

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Life does seem to be getting more interesting. Now I need to have a sound understanding of my subject matter, be skilled in delivery and extending students, encourage leanring as a cooperative activity and fix those pesky computers.

Maybe as time progresses, students will become more skilled in technical issues (or even ones like putting paper in the printer themselves). Primary school programs are including skills in learning how to learn and recently I have been amazed at the information literacy levels of younger students. In fact this Wequest is designed for 9-10 year olds. I think I will use it with my final year class in English Comminications.

http://www.curriculumsupport.nsw.edu.au/le...orientation.htm

I have used this scavenger hunt on web design with older students even thogh it was designed for early learners.

http://www.curriculumsupport.nsw.edu.au/le...t/questions.htm

Skimming for e-learning activites always seems to lead me on a divergent journey. But then I suppose that is like getting lost for time in a bookshop. What a way to spend a winterty afternoon

Pauline

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I submitted this strand to the government's website on their e-learning strategy. I received this today.

'Towards a Unified e-Learning Strategy' - Analysis of Responses to Consultation

The Department wishes to thank you for taking the the time to respond to the 'Towards a Unified e-learning Strategy' consultation. In total 430 formal responses were received. Further detailed feedback from over 300 individuals at the three main consultation events about the strategy which were held in Sheffield, Birmingham and London, a further 150 at the ICT Industry and Learners' events, and from the many people who spoke to members of the e-Learning Strategy Unit at a further 120 events where the Department was represented. We are very grateful for the energy and thought that so many people have given to helping us think through how to get the best out of technology for the benefit of education.

The analysis of the responses to the consultation document can be found on

http://www.dfes.gov.uk/elearningstrategy/

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I wrote the following in an earlier email in this strand:

My local comprehensive school (Cox Green) introduced ICT into the teaching of Modern Foreign Languages in the 1990s. Each week students have one hour per week in the computer lab, working on material directly relating to what they have been taught in class. Following the introduction of regular ICT sessions their GCSE exam results improved by 5% each year over a period of three years - and then levelled off. You can read the Cox Green case study in Module 3.1 at the ICT4LT website: http://www.ict4lt.org

The Cox Green case study was updated today, 7 April. Richard Hamilton, Head of MFL at Cox Green, has some controversial ideas on networking computers - i.e. he doesn't have any faith in networks - and on the use of email, the Internet and videoconferencing - i.e. he remains unimpressed by their real benefits. His approach is to use a small number of dedicated MFL authoring packages on basic stand-alone multimedia computers and to integrate ICT activities closely into the MFL programme as a whole, using ICT across the four skills of Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. Richard also makes considerable use of pupils and foreign language assistants to help him produce MFL/ICT materials. The improved GCSE results is one of the few pieces of concrete evidence that I have found supporting the effectiveness of using ICT. Recent OFSTED inspections at Cox Green have resulted in glowing reports, grading a typical MFL/ICT lesson as "Excellent". A message for the eLearning strategy unit perhaps? Low-tech seems to work!

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