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Aidan Hughes

The future of ICT....?

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Not really, Marco. One of the factors we'll have to take into account is how well or badly the use of ICT fits in with what people do when they learn. I wasn't just talking about memorising facts about language - you have the same situation with the facts of any subject area. One of the major dangers I can see with ICT in education is the tendency of the philosophies that the technologies embody taking over and determining what it is that we call learning.

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David writes:

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

I don't think this is off-topic. Computers can be an excellent aid in helping learners memorise facts - and I am currntly finding a series of CD-ROMs (published by EuroTalk) invaluable in acquiring basic vocab in Polish (in anticipation of next year's EUROCALL conference in Poland.

We do need to memorise facts as well as applying them. I have an excellent memory (even at the age of 62). I can easily assimilate facts - and apply them. It save loads of time looking things up continually.

London cabbies spend around two years "doing the knowledge", i.e. memorising lots of different routes through London. Then they apply that knowledge when they drive their customers around. OK, don't read too much into this. I am merely statng that maybe we are underestimating the value of committing facts to memory.

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I don't think this is off-topic.
Well almost... :)
I am merely statng that maybe we are underestimating the value of committing facts to memory.

As a history teacher I firmly believe in the value of committing facts to memory. However i also feel that a lot of the facts we want our students to commit to memory are excess baggage. When we teach them sound ways of finding information this good proof more valuable to them. Especially in this information era, a lot of rubbish is out there! So finding and interpreting information are skills students must acquire. Facts or knowledge only proofs meaningful if the students can actually use it. They must have a need to know. E.g the cab driver, he needs the information for his chosen proffession. Graham needs the cdroms because he wants to know the vocab etc. etc.

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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.

I'm living in Queensland, Australia. Queensland recently started their Smart Classrooms Project (see education.qld.gov.au/smartclassrooms/strategy/index.html). One aspect of this project was a Computers for Teachers Trial. The government gave 1500 teachers a laptop each. To combat the lack of basic understanding there was a two-day conference/tutorial. At this the teachers were given their laptops and it was explained how to use them. The teachers were also supplied with a 24-hour free hotline number to call if they had any questions or queries.

All of this did not cost the teachers or the schools anything.

Now this is only on trial but so far the results have been quite good. The teachers with the laptops are more readily incorporating ICT's into their classroom because they feel more confident with their skills.

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The NUT has run thousands of successful ICT for teachers courses. Perhaps the reason they are successful is that they are not punitive attempts by management to cure perceived weaknesses in teachers but attempts by teachers to improve their own skills regardless of whether it fits in with the school plan or they can fill in an appropriate form afterwards.

People who went on the courses reported enjoying them. Hand on heart, how many INSET sessions can you say that about?

http://www.teachers.org.uk/story.php?id=3578

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