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Aidan Hughes

The future of ICT....?

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Hi there folks!!

As you may have seen from my biography I have been working closley with BECTA and the Dfes looking at the way in which ICT has influced the education sector in the last 5 years.

With schemes such as Laptops for Teachers and the Interactive whiteboard initiative there is growing interest within the sector to see which way the ICT market will go now.

We supplied many of the schools in the UK this year with their Laptops and Audio Visual needs, and was suprised by the lack of basic understanding that teachers had in regards to the technology.

We have also trained teachers to use the smartboards, em panels etc, and I have found that the education sector overlook the need for training as they believe that if one person in a school knows how to use the equipment then surely, so should everyone else!!

Do you find that this is this the case??

Also I would like to know, from any teachers, what their thoughts are on future developments in ICT and Audio Visual products within education.

Thanks and Good Luck to you

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Dear Aidan,

In commissioning e-platforms for schools I've had much the same experience.

Often senior management have a vision of e-learning in a school or college but the weak point is in implementation.

The expectation is that a day's undifferentiated training will cover all needs. Training then becomes an event rather than a part of the process.

It is back to having a clear and rational view of:

1. How will IT raise standards in the school

2. What is the roll out strategy - strategy is key here because I believe it takes three years to embed ICT in a meaningful way to support learning in a gradual and sustainable way.

3. How do we maximise the impact of the IT on expanding staff teaching and learning repetoires whilst reducing administrative burdens.

I've done a paper on this if you are interested - contact me if you would like a copy.

I'll look for replies to this as my experience is of primary and secondary schools in the state and independent sector as well as colleges, universities and training providers and the problem is the same in all cases in my expewrience to date.

David Hughes

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Training is THE key to success in implementing technology in education. The NOF initiative was largely a failure because it did not do what it set out to do, namely offering subject-specific ICT training across the curriculum. Most of the NOF training providers just offered generic ICT training - and this simply didn't work. Those training providers that offered training in just one subject area, e.g. CILT in MFL, had a far higher success rate (very positive feedback from their trainees) than the generic training providers. I write from experience, as I spent several hectic months at the end of the NOF training period picking up the loose ends for a generic training provider, mostly by going into schools and delivering face-to-face training sessions for MFL teachers.

I have helped create a substantial MFL-specific ICT training resource at http://www.ict4lt.org, a site that was set up with the aid of EC funding. It's not a course, just a set of resources that you can dip into, read onscreen (not the best idea, as reading from the screen is around 25% slower than reading from the printed page - v. Jakob Nielsen's numerous writings on this topic) or print off (a better idea) and read seated in a comfortable chair with a cat on your lap.

See also my report on the MFL/iCT situation that I wrote for the European Commission at:

http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/docs/ICC_...eport_Final.htm

which is part of a Europe-wide report on the IMPACT of ICT in MFL teaching and learning. NOF is covered in Section 2.2. My conclusions regarding the impact are covered in Section 6.

See also:

Davies G.D. (1997) "Lessons from the past, lessons for the future: 20 years of CALL". In Korsvold A-K. & Rüschoff B. (eds.) New technologies in language learning and teaching, Strasbourg: Council of Europe. Also on the Web at:

http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/coegdd1.htm (regularly updated).

Davies G.D. (2003) "ICT and Modern Foreign Languages: learning opportunities and training needs", Scottish Languages Review 8, Scottish CILT: http://www.scilt.stir.ac.uk/SLR/index.htm

Davies G.D. 2003 "Perspectives on online training initiatives". In Felix U. (ed.) Language learning online: towards best practice, Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger.

Littlemore, J. (2002) "Setting up a course in ICT for Language Teachers: some essential considerations", CALL-EJ Online, 4 (1) at http://www.clec.ritsumei.ac.jp/english/cal...littlemore.html

As for learning platforms, I still remain to be convinced that this is the right way to go. A well-designed website (not a VLE), combined with offsite resources such as CD-ROMs, DVDs and printed materials and plenty of face-to-face teaching - what some people call "blended learning" - seems to be a more sensible approach. There is growing evidence that students are getting bored with online learning, and there was certainly evidence during the NOF period that teachers were not happy about online training in ICT.

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I don't know much about what's going on in the UK these days, but I've been working with IT in language teaching for quite a while now.

I'd agree that training is one of the keys … and another is thorough and specific planning, not only of the contribution IT makes, but also of how the IT element fits in with everything else. In my experience there is a certain amount of basic computer training which could be useful to teachers of all subjects, but as soon as you start thinking of specific applications to teaching, you also have to get subject-specific.

Another strike against VLEs is that the pedagogical model which informs nearly all the ones I've ever seen is a positivistic and fairly simplistic one. I've been discussing some of the learning objects produced by our teachers of business administration today, for example. It's really difficult for them to grasp that the pedagogical principles involved in people learning double-entry book-keeping might be different from the ones involved with art or dance or language learning. In particular, the basic facts of their world are all more or less known, whereas it's difficult even to talk in terms of basic facts when you're teaching literary criticism or discourse analysis.

Heuristic models of knowledge are far more difficult (if not impossible) to programme in to computers - you almost always need a human interface somewhere … and then you're back to the old problem of having to trust humans, rather than relying on the spurious objectivity of machines.

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David writes:

It's really difficult for them to grasp that the pedagogical principles involved in people learning double-entry book-keeping might be different from the ones involved with art or dance or language learning.

I always advocate a large amount of time devoted to pedagogy and methodology in the training courses that I offer.

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I always advocate a large amount of time devoted to pedagogy and methodology in the training courses that I offer.

… and how successful are you in being listened to?!

Actually, I'm sure you are … but a common problem is to get the buyers of the technology and the advocates of its introduction to listen to anything other than technical specifications. In sales terms, I'd call this talking about the features, rather than the benefits.

Whenever I'm trying to help other teachers design an IT element into their courses, I start with a picture which has the course features in the middle, and then a number of elements acting upon them, which have to be taken into account. The one I always start with is 'budget' - and then the IT enthusiasts start squirming and yawning. One of the problems for them is that the minute you talk about the budget as a whole, you see what an enormous share the purchase of equipment and programmes has taken. Then you start wondering if you wouldn't actually have done better with a pencil and paper.

I managed to shock a techie to the core the other day. We were discussing the VLE our place bought two years ago for a tidy sum, which has largely been gathering dust since. "OK," he said, "Which VLE would you have bought, if you think this one is so bad?" "I wouldn't have bought one at all," I said. "I would have started with the pedagogics and methodology."

What? Not buy the latest toy? How can that be a good idea?

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Aidan: Welcome to the International Education Forum. One of the advantages of this place is that you will get the responses of people living all over the world. In many cases they have a lot to teach us.

I have been involved in training people to use computers since the early 1980s. This was a time when most teachers were extremely hostile to the idea of using computers in the classroom. These attitudes towards the use of new technology have now changed. It is rare to come across a teacher who will openly say he/she is unwilling to use this technology. Instead they have developed other ways to resist this process.

I have found the most successful approach involves intensive training of the teacher. By the end of the course they need to feel confident that they have control over the technology. If they feel that there is a good chance that they technology will let them down in the classroom, they will refuse to use it. Having experienced technicians available to the teacher in a school is a vital aspect of persuading teachers to use new technology.

In the past I have always looked at what teachers do in the classroom, and then attempted to argue that new technology will help them do these things more efficiently, comprehensively, etc. Although that appears to be a sensible approach, I think this was a mistake. It always assumed that teachers were always doing the right thing. Of course, what they did, depended on the technology that was available.

I used to argue in the 1980s that the introduction of new technology would revolutionize education. I was completely wrong about this. The structure of what goes on in the classroom has not changed (in fact it has remained the same for over 2,000 years). All we have done is to use new technology to reinforce existing structures. This helps to explain why electronic whiteboards have been so successful. The idea of a teacher standing in front of the class using a blackboard to instruct his students goes back hundreds of years.

If someone from Ancient Greece was transported back in time to the 21st century he would find life very confusing. The one place he would recognise would be what goes on in schools.

For new technology to revolutionize education we have to ask a different question to the one we have been asking. What we need to do is ask: “What do we really want our young people to know and do?” When we have worked that out, we can look at how new technology can deliver these aims and objectives. At the moment our aims and objectives are locked into a world of pens and paper.

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David asks:

… and how successful are you in being listened to?!

It's been an uphill struggle - for the whole of the 28 years in which I have been involved in ICT. The ICT4LT website that I edit includes a module entitled "Computer assisted language learning (CALL) methodology: integrating CALL into study programmes" (Module 2.1). It's the least-visited module out of a total of 16 different modules. The most visited modules focus on classroom concordancing (Module 2.4) and multimedia CALL (Module 2.2).

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Hi,

it strikes me that the crucial step that is often missed is that there is an insufficiently strong relationship between schools and their LEA, who might  reasonably be expected to promote, provide and/or broker adequate training opportunities to a wider audience.

chris.

Hi there folks!!

As you may have seen from my biography I have been working closley with BECTA and the Dfes looking at the way in which ICT has influced the education sector in the last 5 years.

With schemes such as Laptops for Teachers and the Interactive whiteboard initiative there is growing interest within the sector to see which way the ICT market will go now.

We supplied many of the schools in the UK this year with their Laptops and Audio Visual needs, and was suprised by the lack of basic understanding that teachers had in regards to the technology.

We have also trained teachers to use the smartboards, em panels etc, and  I have found that the education sector overlook the need for training as they believe that if one person in a school knows how to use the equipment then surely, so should everyone else!!

Do you find that this is this the case??

Also I would like to know, from any teachers, what their thoughts are on future developments in ICT and Audio Visual products within education.

Thanks and Good Luck to you

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Hi,

We supplied many of the schools in the UK this year with their Laptops and Audio Visual needs, and was suprised by the lack of basic understanding that teachers had in regards to the technology.

We have also trained teachers to use the smartboards, em panels etc, and  I have found that the education sector overlook the need for training as they believe that if one person in a school knows how to use the equipment then surely, so should everyone else!!

Do you find that this is this the case??

Also I would like to know, from any teachers, what their thoughts are on future developments in ICT and Audio Visual products within education.

Thanks and Good Luck to you

The uptake of technology has always been dependent upon two factors

1. the technology has to be easily adapted to the current environment. (eg. the ball point pen was easily adapted to schooling because it removed the issue of ink being everywhere)

2. the environment needs to change to allow the technology to reach it full potential. (eg to watch movies when intro duced we needed to provide dark areas to make viewing easier)

I believe e-learning is the next phase of development. It requires a restructuring of the environment and thus a restructuring of traditional pedagogy.

At the Australian Sciernce and Mathematics school we have a new radical building design where it is virtually impossible to teach in a convential way. We have teams of teachers working to achieve educational outcomes. We are exploring the nature of learning and what are the core elements of knowledge, skills and dispositions for students to learn in the 21st Century?

We have a learning management system that is slowly coming online, we have had to create an assessment and progress management system that are student focused not subject based, so each student has their own individual leaning plan. We have about a 1:3 computer ratio with interactive smart board technologies and students bring their own laptops to school and communicate via the wireless network.

The purposeful re-creation of the environment has forced the change and I find the issue at hand for new teachers to this school is not the technology but how can they use the technology to improve learning outcomes.

I am currently working with teaching staff, helpng them develop effective ways to use the technologies and then as a community we share these ideas.

In the future I want to be able to have my laptop based at my office desk and be able to access any information on it from any smart board in the school and have no desktop or laptop present. I want cordless mice and keyboards so that students can take advantage of the information on the screen (eg. explore JAVA applets). I want the technology to blend into the environment so much that it can not be seen much like a pencil is today.

While we are on the subject of ICT, I believe its real power can be utilised in that it speeds up acees to information, software can be used to help clarify and organise understandings and finally to present our understandings. Too often teachers have only focussed on the access and presentation aspects. To help students arrive at deeper understandings we need to use the tools to clarify and organise information. This is a form of reflection which helps learners move to those deeper levels of understanding. The emphasis for the teacher is not information giving but dilemma creating and support to help them clarify what they need to find out and to organise it in such ways as to arrive at a complex and thought provoking answer.

must go

Eddie

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Eddie, this sounds really interesting - particularly the bit about creating a learning environment for ICT-based learning. I often ask teachers here at our university who they think has the most influence on students' attitudes to knowledge and their own learning. My answer is "the caretakers", since they are the ones who determine how the desks are set out, which in turn determines who speaks to whom, which direction the information flows in, etc, etc.

We've been working for quite a while here on the ways you have to change your thinking when you start introducing ICT into a learning environment. One of the concepts we've developed is "The Cone of Input" (about which I've already posted on this forum, so I won't repeat myself now).

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While we are on the subject of ICT, I believe its real power can be utilised in that it speeds up acees to information, software can be used to help clarify and organise understandings and finally to present our understandings. Too often teachers have only focussed on the access and presentation aspects. To help students arrive at deeper understandings we need to use the tools to clarify and organise information. This is a form of reflection which helps learners move to those deeper levels of understanding. The emphasis for the teacher is not information giving but dilemma creating and support to help them clarify what they need to find out and to organise it in such ways as to arrive at a complex and thought provoking answer.

I agree entirely. We need to completely rethink what we do in the classroom. The idea of spending most of time helping students to memorise information in order to pass exams is perverse. What we do in the classroom should reflect what our students need to know in order to function effectively in modern society. I agree that this should include the need to “use the tools to clarify and organise information”.

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John writes:

The idea of spending most of time helping students to memorise information in order to pass exams is perverse.

It depends on the subject. Memorising information is vital in foreign languages. For example, you need an active vocab of around 3000 words in order to function adequately in a foreign language - and it's more efficient to memorise these words rather than walking around with a dictionary or a wifi laptop :) Furthermore, you have to be able to assemble the vocab according to the language's rules of syntax and morphology.

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The question is, though, whether it's the memorisation or the ability to use the results of such memorisation which should be tested/rewarded.

If it's the latter, then anyone who achieved the same results without the memorisation would presumably gain the same 'reward'.

In terms of language learning, there's lots of information that needs to be internalised, and in many places, it's that internalisation which is seen as an end in itself (q.v. credits for 'Vocabulary'). However, I'd like to see the steps beyond internalisation as the real learning …

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