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Marco Koene

ICT and education

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At the moment I am administrator of an eun community with more than 150 members from all over europe. One of the topics we are discussing is the use (or not using) of ict in the classroom.

I am curious at the experiences of the members here.

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At the moment I am administrator of an eun community with more than 150 members from all over europe. One of the topics we are discussing is the use (or not using) of ict in the classroom.

I am curious at the experiences of the members here.

In Britain we have a major problem with persuading teachers to use computers in the classroom. It is not a problem with them using a computer. Most teachers now have a computer and many use the internet to prepare materials for the classroom. What they have a problem with is using the computer in the classroom. I have been involved in training teachers to use computers in the classroom since the early 1980s. The major problem concerns their fear that the students will know more about computers than they do. They are also very concerned that the computers will go wrong during the lesson.

Research shows that it is possible to train teachers to feel confident with computers in the classroom. However, it is necessary to constantly update that training. After a gap in time the teachers tend to think that once again the students have left them behind with knowledge about ICT (students sense this fear and usually tend to exploit it).

In my view INSET training should be about giving teachers the skills necessary to update themselves about technological change. One way of doing this is by helping them become involved in the process. For example, helping them create their own website. I think it is a scandal that students are leaving PGCE courses without this ability.

Another important factor is the provision of good technological support in the classroom. I have yet to teach in a school where this has been done to a satisfactory standard.

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I have done some research with history teachers and trainee teachers and in spite of recent improvements in the computer to pupil ratio in British schools, access still emerges as the biggest problem. There seems to be a general antipathy to having to book computer suites for an 'all singing, all dancing' ICT special lesson, and it would appear that history teachers would much prefer to have access to use computers within ordinary lessons, through the availability of computers in designated history classrooms, electronic whiteboards or data projectors. Unfortunatley, a lot of recent investment in ICT seems to have gone into equipping schools with more computer suites. Where there is high ICT use, it seems to correspond to where teachers have easy classroom access, and can just use ICT as a regular component of many lessons rather than the occasional 'set piece' in the ICT room.

The other big constraint is time to think of what to do with all the resources now available through ICT. The most precious resource in education at the moment is teachers' time. In the UK teachers are deluged with admin and testing and government strategy documents, and do not have enough time to integrate ICT into their lesson plans.

Investing money in more whole class projection facilities for classroom use of ICT and giving them more free time to explore the potential of ICT would be big steps forward.

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Being the person in my school resposible for the integration of ict i agree with what you write. When we had computerrooms the use was very low. Some years ago we decided to equip every classroom with at least 4 pc's. The use has gone up! For 2004 the plans are to give every teacher the use of a laptop in his classroom. This combined with the use of two multimedia projectors I hope will increase the use even more.

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Guest Andrew Moore

It is now very common - normal, even - to see a networked computer with a projector or other display device in most classrooms of English primary schools. The UK government has set targets for ratios of pupils to computers, but not yet given strong guidance about getting them into different subject areas. So this scenario of a computer available for every class is still rare in secondary schools. Here the teachers of ICT (as a distinct subject) and business studies too often keep the technology to themselves.

But it need not be so. The funding of ICT in England is generous enough for any school to be able to have now, or in a few years at most, a computer and projector in every classroom. I know of one secondary school that has already done this - and am sure that more will follow.

For most teachers and students, most of the time, a room full of computers is not ideal or helpful. In the UK we invent new orthodoxies and then become prisoners of them - so we talk about "computer suites" (they are just rooms with a bunch of networked PCs) as if they were the ideal, and get hung up on expensive interactive whiteboards (just an input device - you can do the same with a mouse). But the very important things (a display or projection device, sound amplification, a scanner and software to grab documents) - we easily miss these.

Most schools in the UK also spend a lot of money on licences for proprietary software (the Microsoft tax) rather than look seriously at open source alternatives. This is really dumb - people say that the proprietary stuff is the de facto standard. But it's only that if we accept it as such. Things like www.OpenOffice.org are not only free to the school - we can ensure that all students and parents have them for free, too. The future of software programming will be heavily influenced by talented people in India and China, who have the skill to develop open source applications, but cannot afford to pay the MS tax. If we choose not to pay this annual levy, we can use the money saved to buy systems that we can run on robust free software - and we need pay only for the maintenance of these systems.

I am optimistic that the secondary schools in England (and other countries) will catch up with the very good things that are happening in our primary schools. Subject teachers are still fearful of the technology. At a conference, Marco once asked: "Is there a need?" (For innovative use of ICT in teaching.) Then gave the answer: "Yes, but we have to create it..." We have begun to do this - let's not stop now. :D

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The idea of circumventing the microsoft tax appeals to me. Together with some colleagues ( i always misspell this word, could somebody correct it for me please :( ) I have looked at alternatives for the common used software like Word etc.

The alternative i was impressed by was staroffice. Sadly we had already payed for our licenses so this came to nothing. However we keep it in the back of our minds.

I agree that we as 'technical persons' tend to keep the technologies to ourselves, but i also find that 'teaching' colleagues the use is a very long task. Worthwhile and very necessary, no mistake about that, but very time-consuming. This combined with the other tasks i have, eg teaching :D is many a time to much.

Furthermore i feel that sometimes schools invest to much money in nice looking devices, such as interactive whiteboards, instead of what they really could use, like ,as Andrew wrote,a scanner or software to grab documents. This i feel is now slowly changing. The novelty is waring of. However with the rise of dvd, the demand for copiers has already started!!!

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The idea of circumventing the microsoft tax appeals to me. Together with some colleagues ( i always misspell this word, could somebody correct it for me please :D ) I have looked at alternatives for the common used software like Word etc.

The alternative i was impressed by was staroffice. Sadly we had already payed for our licenses so this came to nothing. However we keep it in the back of our minds.

Furthermore i feel that sometimes schools invest to much money in nice looking devices, such as interactive whiteboards, instead of what they really could use, like ,as Andrew wrote,a scanner or software to grab documents. This i feel is now slowly changing. The novelty is waring of. However with the rise of dvd, the demand for copiers has already started!!!

Hi,

I'm the World Education Lead for the OpenOffice.org community. Couple of points. OpenOffice.org is the code base for Star Office. The only significant differences between OpenOffice.org and Star Office are:

Star Office has some minor additions such as a filter for Wordperfect and the Adabas database that OpenOffice does not include. These are relatively unimportant unless you have a specific need for them.

OpenOffice.org tends to get released with bug fixes more often, usually Star office comes out after a release of OO.o. So OO.o 1.1 was later released as Star Office 7. Both of these are significant improvements over their earlier versions. OpenOffice.org 2.0 is roadmapped for the end of 2004 and will again be very much improved.

OpenOffice.org is a community as well as a product with potential for pupils to take part in aspects such as Quality Assurance, provision of clip art and templates, marketing, CD-ROM distribution. What better way to learn than to take part in the World's biggest Open Source project.

Star Office belongs entirely to Sun Microsystems and is controlled by that company. Sun has influence in OpenOffice.org development but the ownership lies with the worldwide community. More than 20 million downloads so far.

OpenOffice.org can quite happily live alongside MS Office so why not install it on your network anyway and provide choice? OpenOffice.org 1.1 can save directly to pdf files which MS Office can't and the Drawing programme OO.o Draw is worth having for school use on its own. And you can burn as many CDs as you like for pupils to use at home without messing about with vouchers and such like. This is socially responsible because it helps prevent piracy and enables pupils without the means to buy commercial software to have the same access to ICT as everyone else with the same software available at home and at school. Government social inclusion policy.

You can download OpenOffice.org from www.openoffice.org. There are also links to CD-ROM distributors if you have a slow link. The OpenOffice.org Education Web page is at www.openoffice.org/education/schools.

You can subscribe to the OpenOffice.org education mailing list by sending a blank E-mail to educ-unsubscribe@marketing.openoffice.org

There is good support at users@openoffice.org for technical queries and its all free. You can also suggest improvements and "must have" features at discuss@openoffice.org.

There is also certification available suitable for OpenOffice.org at www.theINGOTs.org

If you want to find out more about FLOSS in general come to the FLOSSIE conference at the London Institute of Education 18th February. More details at http://www.schoolforge.org.uk/flossie/conference200402.html

Hope this helps.

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The idea of circumventing the microsoft tax appeals to me. Together with some colleagues ( i always misspell this word, could somebody correct it for me please :( ) I have looked at alternatives for the common used software like Word etc.

The alternative i was impressed by was staroffice. Sadly we had already payed for our licenses so this came to nothing. However we keep it in the back of our minds.

Furthermore i feel that sometimes schools invest to much money in nice looking devices, such as interactive whiteboards, instead of what they really could use, like ,as Andrew wrote,a scanner or software to grab documents. This i feel is now slowly changing. The novelty is waring of. However with the rise of dvd, the demand for copiers has already started!!!

Hi,

I'm the World Education Lead for the OpenOffice.org community. Couple of points. OpenOffice.org is the code base for Star Office. The only significant differences between OpenOffice.org and Star Office are:

Star Office has some minor additions such as a filter for Wordperfect and the Adabas database that OpenOffice does not include. These are relatively unimportant unless you have a specific need for them.

OpenOffice.org tends to get released with bug fixes more often, usually Star office comes out after a release of OO.o. So OO.o 1.1 was later released as Star Office 7. Both of these are significant improvements over their earlier versions. OpenOffice.org 2.0 is roadmapped for the end of 2004 and will again be very much improved.

OpenOffice.org is a community as well as a product with potential for pupils to take part in aspects such as Quality Assurance, provision of clip art and templates, marketing, CD-ROM distribution. What better way to learn than to take part in the World's biggest Open Source project.

Star Office belongs entirely to Sun Microsystems and is controlled by that company. Sun has influence in OpenOffice.org development but the ownership lies with the worldwide community. More than 20 million downloads so far.

OpenOffice.org can quite happily live alongside MS Office so why not install it on your network anyway and provide choice? OpenOffice.org 1.1 can save directly to pdf files which MS Office can't and the Drawing programme OO.o Draw is worth having for school use on its own. And you can burn as many CDs as you like for pupils to use at home without messing about with vouchers and such like. This is socially responsible because it helps prevent piracy and enables pupils without the means to buy commercial software to have the same access to ICT as everyone else with the same software available at home and at school. Government social inclusion policy.

You can download OpenOffice.org from www.openoffice.org. There are also links to CD-ROM distributors if you have a slow link. The OpenOffice.org Education Web page is at www.openoffice.org/education/schools.

You can subscribe to the OpenOffice.org education mailing list by sending a blank E-mail to educ-unsubscribe@marketing.openoffice.org

There is good support at users@openoffice.org for technical queries and its all free. You can also suggest improvements and "must have" features at discuss@openoffice.org.

There is also certification available suitable for OpenOffice.org at www.theINGOTs.org

If you want to find out more about FLOSS in general come to the FLOSSIE conference at the London Institute of Education 18th February. More details at http://www.schoolforge.org.uk/flossie/conference200402.html

Hope this helps.

I agree wholeheartedly with your position on the "microsoft tax" situation. We (a London Primary School) are replacing our MS Office Products with Star Office v7.00, as and when new machines are installed.

We have one interactive whiteboard which, again I agree, had quite a lot of novelty value. The kids certainly like operating the larger image, but I am now quite firmly of the view that the same effect can be had by equipping classrooms with a projector and decent wireless mouse/keyboard, thus effecting a saving of about GBP1,500 per class.

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I worked for several months in 2002-2003 as a NOF trainer, having been called in by one of the NOF training providers to pick up the loose threads that were left over as this massive training programme neared its conclusion. I visited around 20 different schools as a NOF trainer. What I saw was often appalling. Although all the schools had reasonable ICT facilities, they were mostly underused. Access to ICT suites was the major problem. The suites were often hogged by the ICT and Maths departments. Humanities subjects were usually left out in the cold.

Training teachers in some of the basic tasks that featured in the NOF programme was impossible, for example:

1. Web access was often subject to over-sensitive filtering systems that locked both teachers and students out of dozens of useful websites. One local education authority had blocked access to Google, making it impossible for teachers to use this excellent search engine. Sites containing certain words and phrases were often blocked. I found, for example, that a site seeking homes for retired racing greyhounds could not be accessed (a teacher was looking for pictures of dogs). Why? Probably because the phrase “black bitch” occurred several times in the texts at the site, which I was able to verify on my home computer.

2. One of the NOF tasks required teachers to evaluate a software package relating to their subject area. I am a Modern Foreign Languages specialist, and in at least one third of the schools that I visited there was not a single MFL package to evaluate, so I had to get the teachers to evaluate packages that I had installed on my laptop. An alternative would have been to evaluate an MFL website, but MFL websites mostly fall short of the standards that I expect and usually lack the facility that is indispensable in MFL, i.e. listen/record/playback, a facility that has been available on humble tape recorders since my early teaching days in the 1960s and on CD-ROMs since the 1980s! Most ICT suites that I used with my trainees were poor in terms of their ability to playback and record sound, for various reasons: soundcards being incorrectly set up, lack of headphones and microphones, lack of plug-ins, etc. I am currently contributing to the MELTEC project at Kingston University that offers training in multimedia for teachers in all subject areas: http://www.meltec.org.uk

3. The materials provided by the training provider for whom I was working were often incomprehensible – both jargon-ridden and abstruse. I therefore began to create my own training materials, which are located at http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/lspinset.htm and based on the more comprehensive materials at the ICT4LT site: http://www.ict4lt.org

You can read about the successes and failures of the NOF training programme at:

OFSTED Report, April 2002: ICT in schools: effect of government initiatives. See the OFSTED website, http://www.ofsted.gov.uk, where the report can be downloaded in PDF format: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications/docs/19.pdf

ICT can make an impact in education if it is handled sensibly. Concrete evidence is difficult to obtain, but a recent report on a research study conducted by BECTA, ImpaCT2, has produced a large amount of data: http://www.becta.org.uk/research/impact2. The ImpaCT2 study claims that schools using ICT in the classroom get better results than those that do not, and that there is a significant correlation between the use of ICT in MFL and good examination results. However, I remain sceptical about the way the data has been interpreted in this study. I am inclined to agree with Angela McFarlane, Professor of Education and Director of Learning Technology, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, who writes: "What we do know, whether from personal experience as teacher or learner, or as the result of 20 years of research into the question, is that ICT has an impact on learning, for some learners, under some conditions, and that it cannot replace a teacher. We know that a key factor in impact at school level is and remains the teacher, whose role in managing and integrating the ICT-based experiences learners have with the rest of the curriculum and culture is vital and probably always will be." Times Educational Supplement, ICT in Education Online, 26 April 2002, p. 17.

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It's just the very last years that I started to work with e-learning. In Virtual School I have participated in the development of international web-pages within different history topics and during the last years I have also built up the History Department site on our school’s intranet. Since I'm responsible for the History Department I'm quite concerned about developing a local curricula for History that tries to establish e-learning within the History subject.

Our senior management understands the need but we have other problems; the general lack of skills. When computers first were introduced to schools in Sweden it seemed like every school wanted to be part of the new technical development. The schools spent a lot of money on computers, printers and programs but the vaste majority of the teachers did not get any training on how to use the computers. Many of the teachers in the schools today does not have basic ICT skills and there is no sign of any drastic change in the nearest future. Even a bigger problem - The Universities with Teachers Education has nothing about the web, web design and how to use computers as a pedagogic tool in the classroom.

I have ideas about why it's like this, but the question of more importance today is - how can we change this? :blink:

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