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ICT in the classroom.


Marco Koene

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The computer can be used to replace the teacher as the 'font of knowledge' allowing you to concentrate on facilitating the students own learning and helping them to improve their learning skills.

My more effective lessons involved using computers because they performed a certain task better than the student/ me rather than just using them for the sake of using them.

For example students can sit at adjacent computers and one can extract up to date data from a website, manipulate it and the other can record it for example by plotting locations on a map or on a spread sheet.

This encourages team work and the students are able to see graphs being plotted etc as they complete the work giving them some kind of sense of where the project is going. Very often they can then come up with their own ideas about how to make the process more efficient making them feel more in control of their own learning.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is making powerpoint presentations when a poster would do. The kids obsess over the graphics rather than the content. Not a useful activity.

Rowena

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  • 3 weeks later...

Step one - get a curriculum that is process based rather than content based

Step two - give every student a notebook computer

Step three - put open ended, constructionist software on every computer (refer to Seymour Papert at MIT), an example of this software is MicroWorlds, Reasonable, Inspiration, Textease, Cabri, Paint Shop Pro, Media Studio and Dreamweaver (all our kids have all these on their notebooks). You will note that none of these are Microsoft products!!!

Step four - change the way you teach - adopt a constructionist pedagogy appropriate to the technology, the software and the curriculum.

The benefits are that you will soon have students who can: analyse, discuss, model, hypothesise, criticise, design, research, measure, synthesise, compose, construct, test, use software as a thinking tool, who are problem solvers and for whom using technology is a natural life skill.

How to achieve this? Migrate to Melbourne, Australia.

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Guest brinn

I would suggest that step one should be: give the teachers the equipment and the training first - then allow then planning time and technological help, and assist them in gradually adding at least one ICT activity a term to each scheme.

Steps 1 and 2 above have to go hand in had with this.

In my teaching room, I have a projector and a computer from which to project - and the only training I have had is in the mechanics of power point. Not even in how to use ppt interactively, never mind any of the wonderful functions the previous two posters have mentioned.

I am constantly frustrated at how under-utilised the small amount of ICT I have in my room is, never mind what might be achieved if every student had access to computing equipment each lesson.

Until I know WHAT can be done, I will never ask for it.

Once I know what can be done, however, I need training and time in order to make me fit to do it in my lessons. Believe me, the little I have seen and used has made me keen for more, and I am pretty sure most of us would be - if only we knew how!

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Tony suggests

Step one - get a curriculum that is process based rather than content based

Great idea if you have no government restrictions on the curriculum and no government targets to meet, and no league tables to be concerned about!

Step two - give every student a notebook computer

Step three - put open ended, constructionist software on every computer (refer to Seymour Papert at MIT), an example of this software is MicroWorlds, Reasonable, Inspiration, Textease, Cabri, Paint Shop Pro, Media Studio and Dreamweaver (all  our kids have all these on their notebooks).

From your website it seems that the word 'give' is not quite what you mean .... in an elitist set up such as the one where you teach it appears that parents are expected to pay handsomely for these 'gifts'. Not quite so easy in most state funded schools where parents may be low paid/unemployed/single parents etc etc.

Step four - change the way you teach - adopt a constructionist pedagogy appropriate to the technology, the software and the curriculum.

Yes, that I can agree with but, as Brinn says, for the vast majority of teachers it is a case of 'easier said than done'. First is the ready availability of the (modern!) technology, second is the expertise and confidence of the teacher....

Until I know WHAT can be done, I will never ask for it.

Once I know what can be done, however, I need training and time in order to make me fit to do it in my lessons.

Therein lies the problem. Personal IT skills, knowledge and competence are not acquired in short training courses. They require vast amounts of time and practice and patience. To then use IT in lessons is a whole different ball game. Every school has its own individual skill base and problems regarding use of IT. Unfortunately there are no blanket answers. :angry:

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Yes, that I can agree with but, as Brinn says, for the vast majority of teachers it is a case of 'easier said than done'.  First is the ready availability of the (modern!)  technology, second is the expertise and confidence of the teacher....
Until I know WHAT can be done, I will never ask for it.

Once I know what can be done, however, I need training and time in order to make me fit to do it in my lessons.

Therein lies the problem. Personal IT skills, knowledge and competence are not acquired in short training courses. They require vast amounts of time and practice and patience. To then use IT in lessons is a whole different ball game. Every school has its own individual skill base and problems regarding use of IT. Unfortunately there are no blanket answers. :D

You are SO right. For the first time since I began mentioning my ICT needs on this site, I feel as if I have met someone who really understands what I mean!

(I should add that I posted as someone else until recently when bullying from my Head led me to change my user name so colleagues from my school cannot recognise me. I will start a thread about that eventaully... but it is another story.)

Every time anyone has mentioned ICT and teaching in the classroom and I have posted one of my naive 'tell me how to do it' responses, all I have had is a link to one of their personal sites or a 'I posted it on an earlier thread/post' business.

No-one has ever talked MY language. I am a classroom teacher of many years experience who LOVES ICT, but I have never been trained in it and the demands of my own subject leave me with so little time to trawl through all the occupational language that you ICT bods use on your sites.

But I want to learn, I really do. I am sooooo frustrated, I can't tell you. My school is taking Govt money to appear to be putting ICT into place, but in fact the only people who get it are the cronies of the Head and the ICT department. The training courses have to be basic - show us how to make a power point page; but them it never leads anywhere. I KNOW that a ppt is more than an information page that I can flash up with pretty pictures - but where is the course that is going to teach me imaginative ways to use it? Then give me the time to learn and practice? Then monitor my use so I have to do it and get help in doing it right?

So I come here on this forum with its base of people who run their own web sites and I post up the simple things I do, and ask for more advice and instead of telling me the next step, instead I get either ignored because (I assume) they think I am a simple idiot...., or told to read previous, overlong threads full of jargon that mean nothing to me...

So far - no help!

Oh blast! Now I have made myself look as thick as I have been made to feel by some of the ICT-based posters on this site when I previously asked help from them (under my previous name).

But hey - nothing ventured, nothing gained. You at least sound as if you understand what I might be feeling.

(And hopefully after this post so will a few more of the ICT boffins on this site. Unless of course they decide to put me down as some sort of idiot. That would be a pity because I am, in my own eccentric manner - really trying here to help them connect, by giving them a glimpse of the confusion I feel, as a non-ICT folk with the difficulty of grasping this tool and making it work for me in my English classroom!) :huh::angry:

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Brinn’s cry from the heart highlights a good deal of what has gone wrong with ICT training in this country – and in most other countries too in my experience. The New Opportunities Funding (NOF) scheme that was set up in the UK in 1999 aimed to make every classroom teacher ICT-literate. On the whole it was a failure, a terrible waste public funding. An OFSTED report contained the following damning statement:

“NOF training remains unsatisfactory in its overall effect. Training in around six out of every ten secondary schools and half the primaries has so far failed to tackle adequately those issues relating to the quality of ICT use in classrooms. Training materials for specific subjects at secondary level have often failed to excite teachers. In many secondary schools, the programme has simply ground to a halt.”

NOF was failure because the most of the agencies appointed to deliver the ICT training just delivered generic training in ICT instead of subject-specific training. Only three training agencies were subject specialists: MFL, Science and History. I worked for the NOF MFL agency (CILT) on a couple of occasions. CILT knew what it was doing, i.e. it knew how to address the ICT needs of teachers of modern foreign languages – and the feedback from its trainees was generally positive. I also worked for another NOF agency that aimed to cover the whole of the curriculum. It wasn’t working too well, and then right at the end of the NOF funding period a number of subject specialists, including myself, were called by the agency in to pick up the loose threads. Once the subject specialists came in, everything began to fall into place and the teachers who received the training were largely satisfied.

I would not attempt to teach ICT to a History, Graphic Design or Maths teacher. I don’t know enough about the pedagogy and methodology associated with these subjects to be able to do a proper job. But I do understand the needs of MFL teachers as I taught MFL for 25 years, branching out into ICT early on in my career. If I needed help on software for teaching Graphic Design the last person I would ask would be an ICT specialist. I would ask a Graphic Design teacher first, a professional Graphic Designer second – and then I might consider talking to an ICT specialist.

As for just directing teachers to our websites in response to a request for information, yes, it is true that we do that. I refer MFL teachers to the ICT4LT website, which is the largest ICT training resources site for MFL teachers anywhere on the Web. The site materials were written by language teachers for language teachers, with the help of EC funding. The materials are pedagogy-driven not technology-driven. ICT4LT is a popular website, currently attracting over 700 hits per day: http://www.ict4lt.org

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So I come here on this forum with its base of people who run their own web sites and I post up the simple things I do, and ask for more advice and instead of telling me the next step, instead I get either ignored because (I assume) they think I am a simple idiot...., or told to read previous, overlong threads full of jargon that mean nothing to me...

So far - no help!

Where did this happen? As far as I am very aware that the administrators do everything they can to encourage new members and answer the questions they pose in straightforward terms. I am especially indebted to the co-founder of this forum John Simkin for this who always answers all posts very promptly and thoughtfully. Graham also does much stirling and valued work of this nature. In my experience there are very few forums where this happens. It is especially noteworthy as the administartors and moderators of this site do all this out of the kindness of their hearts. It is not a commercial venture

I have searched through all the postings made in the threads most relevant to the sort of area highlighted here and can find no evidence of anyone being either ignored or treated with anything other than old world charm and courtesy. Perhaps Brinn could let me know where this all happened so I can investigate?

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Brinn, I have looked at some of the things our science department have done with Powerpoint for our students - if you have a broadband connection to the internet you will be able to look at these but a dial up connection will not be good because it will be far too slow.

Here are a couple of them - one is a game that is interactive, the other is a revision slide show to summarise a module of work. Hope they might give you some starting ideas....

Interactive 'millionaire' game

Automatic revision presentation

If you can't view these, let me know through the personal message section of the forum and I wll send them to you on CD. As a self -taught non IT specialist I don't pretend to be an expert but I too love to learn new stuff and am happy to share what I have learnt in 'layman's terms'. Good luck! :tomatoes

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Well, at least my comments seem to have livened up the debate on this theme. Yes, I teach in a technology rich school, but only after years of frustration in the state system of seeing what was possible but never being given the opportunity to achieve it. I backed my belief in the power of learning technology as the way of the future, by putting my career on the line and going out and competing for jobs in private enterprise. It was the independent schools who were the pioneers in learning technology and who drove things forward in those early days. We took the risks, and they were very big risks when the future of your job and the future of the school depends on it.

Ten years on we have created such a ground swell that our State Labour Govt can no longer ignore it. In 2004 the Govt provided notebooks for teachers and there are several State Secondary Schools that have notebook programmes. I doubt very much that if our independent schools had not driven this initiative so successfully the Govt would have poured the funds into ICT in State education that it has.

Our model has had a significant influence around the world. The Governor of Maine has just given every upper primary student a Mac Powerbook (I think it was 40,000 units).

I was quite serious when I said that you have to change the curriculum, I do understand the constraints of the UK National Curriculum. In my view it is the very opposite of what is required for the successful use of learning technology in a constructionist environment because it actually prevents the technology being used to its full potential. So until the curriculum is fixed the Govt is just wasting time pouring money into ICT in schools. Software does not deliver content very effectively, it is in applied processes that it excels as a learning tool.

The points raised by Maggie are all the same as I heard when conducting workshops in London last January. In NSW where they have similar curriculum restraints to the UK, ICT in schools has not taken off either. However, in Victoria, Queensland and WA where there is a very school based curriculum design, that is where learning technology is flourishing. I hope at least the UK can move to an IB style of curriculum in the not too distant future as it offers far more flexibility for the use of learning technology (refer to the International School of Toulouse for examples).

We have also had an impact on the shape of the curriculum and the review that has just taken place. Our new curriculum is moving away from content towards processing and problem solving, it will mandate time for in-depth studies and learning for understanding and give schools even more say in customising programmes for the needs of their particular clients within the Standards Framework. All of which is most exciting for schools who espouse the constructionist use of learning technology.

I don’t know if this forum is really the place to provide the type of advice Brinn is looking for but I’ll give a few examples. Firstly, none of us have enough time which is why we use “just in time learning” for our staff and our students. As Graham rightly says we don’t send people on courses because they are a waste of time and money. What we do is to use that money to employ our own in-house ICT Curriculum people. These are not IT specialists. They are a new breed of educational professional who are going to be in great demand in the next few years. They work one to one with classroom teachers in designing the ICT scaffolding for their units of work right across the curriculum. They can team teach with the subject teacher, or they can just be there in the class to make sure everything works. All our staff with expertise in certain areas of software are acknowledged and are encouraged to share it with others, usually one to one at lunch times or after school or in so called spare periods. Most of this happens within faculties.

We do not have any what I would call IT Specialist and I agree with Graham that these are the last people to turn to for help in most instances. This is deliberate policy as we totally integrate ICT through the curriculum. I think Brinn said he was a English teacher so I’ll give a couple of examples of how I have set up my ICT courses in this respect with the English Dept. Firstly I read all the curriculum documentation for every subject. I meet with the Heads of Dept to discuss their ICT focus in their courses for the semester, and only then do I design my ICT courses.

In Year 9 English this year the students study advertising and TV Commercials, so in my Year 9 Multi-Media Studies we relate everything to actually constructing a TV Commercial. So the kids write their scripts, storyboard the project, act and direct. They shoot the footage on Sony miniDV cameras, learn about sound engineering and lighting. They load the footage into their notebooks through the USB connection and edit it using Ulead Media Studio 7, into a coherent finished product, adding voice overs and backing music as required. Meantime the “English” content is looked after by the English teacher who does not need to know movie making software etc because the kids very quickly become the experts to which the teacher can refer if need be. Also I rarely do any direct teaching, just a bit at the start to get them going and then it is all individual help as required because they are all doing their own thing at their own speed.

In the coming semester the Yr 10 English classes are focussing on Poetry. So my web design course is focusing on constructing pages in Dreamweaver MX for publishing poetry. There will be text and images but also .wav files of poetry reading and mpeg video clips of interviews with local poets.

Thus the ICT team supports all subjects across the curriculum and the focus is on learning not on ICT. Projects like these more than satisfy any boxes that have to be ticked re ICT skills. I know some people will say you can only do this because of the technology you have available to the students, but anyone with access to a PC can adopt a similar approach but on a lesser scale in any classroom, it is the approach to using the technology that is important, not the technology.

If anyone would like to further discuss this approach with me I think via email would be the way to go. There is also a possibility that I will be in the UK for BETT2005 and to take some more workshops in schools. But now I need some sleep as I have to get up at 4am to watch Euro 2004 live and Wimbledon is live all night as well so everyone will be :tomatoes totally wrecked for the next 2 weeks!

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Tony makes some very important points in his contribution to this discussion – and thanks, Tony, for supporting my view on a couple of issues.

The National Curriculum in England is a straitjacket. Note England: teachers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are not so restricted. This may explain why some of the most imaginative ICT work in my subject area, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL), is being done in other parts of the UK, e.g. The Partners in Excellence initiative in Scotland: http://www.pie.org.uk – Mark Pentleton does some great things with video in teaching MFL. Some of his ideas could be adapted teaching English as one’s Mother Tongue. Actually, many ideas that are well established in MFL could be adapted to teaching English as one’s Mother Tongue, for example the use of concordancing software, which plays an important role in the constructivist approach to language teaching - see Module 2.4 at the ICT4LT website: http://www.ict4lt.org/en/en_mod2-4.htm

As a result of our restictive National Curriculum in MFL incredibly isolated in England and only just beginning to fall into step with the rest of Europe in adopting the Common European Framework for Languages. See:

http://www.coe.int/T/E/Cultural_Co-operati...Language_Policy

There is an international professional association devoted to the promotion of language teaching and learning with new technologies, namely EUROCALL, which was initiated in 1986! EUROCALL’s HQ is now in Ireland. See:

http://www.eurocall-languages.org

There is even a worldwide association devoted to language teaching and learning with new technologies, namely WorldCALL, which held its inaugural conference in Melbourne in 1998. See:

http://www.worldcall.org

WorldCALL’s HQ will shortly be established at Griffith University, Australia.

For some imaginative uses of ICT in MFL see the case studies in the report that I helped to produce to the European Commission:

The Impact of Information and Communications Technologies on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and on the Role of Teachers of Foreign Languages (2003). This is a comprehensive report commissioned by the EC Directorate General of Education and Culture, which can be downloaded in PDF or Word format from the ICC website: http://www.icc-europe.com - click on "Report on ICT in FLL".

One point that needs to be made in teaching MFL. Tony talks about the move "towards processing and problem solving". Yes, that's possible in MFL too, especially at the higher levels, but learning a foreign language also requires an enormous amount of committing content to memory, e.g. a basic vocab of 3000 words - although I believe our GCSE exams only require around 1500 words, which is barely adequate for communication. On top of this there are the rules of grammar which have to be internalised - i.e. rather than just learned - so that they can be applied automatically. This is why we stress practice in MFL - rather like practising a musical instrument or taking a corner kick in football. For example, ICT can help kids practise their listening and speaking skills. In the classroom they never get enough practice.

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If anyone would like to further discuss this approach with me I think via email would be the way to go. There is also a possibility that I will be in the UK for BETT2005 and to take some more workshops in schools. But now I need some sleep as I have to get up at 4am to watch Euro 2004 live and Wimbledon is live all night as well so everyone will be :tomatoes totally wrecked for the next 2 weeks!

Great posting Tony. I would appreciate it if you posted information like this on the forum rather than by sending it by email. In that way, all of us can benefit from your knowledge.

By the way, if you are interested in Euro 2004, you night want to join the debate here:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=933

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So I come here on this forum with its base of people who run their own web sites and I post up the simple things I do, and ask for more advice and instead of telling me the next step, instead I get either ignored because (I assume) they think I am a simple idiot...., or told to read previous, overlong threads full of jargon that mean nothing to me...

So far - no help!

Did that happen in this thread? If so I am sorry. It was not intentionally.

So; how can we help you?

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Well, I have ruffled a few feathers I can see. Sorry not to have replied sooner, but I have been off for a few days.

I don't mean to insult the forum as such, so just a few random thoughts.

Tony, the forum was recommended to me (and others, through a very respectable other posting site by someone who is a member of the admin staff here) as a place where - among others things - practical advice and help could be shared between teachers.

I don't want to get into a spat about who ignored previous postings etc., because I don't think it was personal (and it never was any administrator, nor was it on this thread). I suspect that my postings for help may have seemed so naive, it didn't occur to the ICT boffins I was asking for help, perhaps. I don't know. Or maybe they thought that what I was saying seemed so simple that it didn't need an answer. My earlier post here is a somewhat over-passionate outburst from a sense of frustration that I have not always understood what was said to me; and yes, at times, on ICT threads when I asked for things, I have been told to re-read postings on those threads - postings I didn't understand, which was why I was asking.

I have not, however, Andrew, ever been addressed rudely by anyone in regards to pleas for help with ICT information and advice.

My thanks to Maggie for your recommended sites. I shall learn from them, I know, and it is practical ideas, simple expressed in layman's terms that I am after.

My frustration and heartfelt cries for help come from a genuine desire to use the wonderful tools that ICT presents in the classroom and I suspect that in part, Tony is right - it is not the place of this forum to redress the shortcomings of my place of work. I think, because of the high number of ICT people in the early days, I leapt straight in with unrealistic expectations.

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