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As a deputy head history teacher rather than an IT bod, I have tried in my work with OPEUS (www.opeus.com) to try and come up with some educational principles for the deployment of ICT across the curriculum.

It strikes me that where we have gone wrong is to let the IT specialists set the agenda with the result that tools for education are too often technically rather than educationally determined.

Here are my thoughts - for what they are worth!

1. ICT will only raise standards in schools when it can be deployed by everyone across the curriculum. Until this is achieved you will have fast and slow tracks with no appreciable impact on learning standards.

2. It follows that the entry point for any e-learning tool should be so simple that people can use the technology from their existing IT skill set, however limited. It follows that the operating system for whichever system you chose to operate should be no more difficult than a word processor to operate.

3. Although ICT has the potential to revolutionise learning, it must be introduced in a manageable way to staff so that they can gradually build up their confidence in basic tasks. Generally speaking ICT fails when there is a two stage implementation strategy:

a. Learn new and specific skill set

b. Think of how this could support your teaching and learning strategies

4. Having an inclusive IT vehicle is necessary but not sufficient to use ICT to raise standards - the second condition is an implementation strategy which is rational, gradual and educationally based aroung the school's development planning. This might require an incremental approach such as:

a. Establish e-learning portal to provide an online facility which frees the school from the constraints of the school day and the numberof computers in school

b. Train staff ( use BECTA guidelines) because a one size fits all approach is a non starter! I think a three year roll out stategy is reasonable - anything less tends to mean things do not embed properly.

c. Encourage staff to investigate by creating online learning resources, hyperlinking to the best resources on the web etc.

d. Work on collaborations with other depratments and schools locally, nationally,and internationally to enrich the curriculum.

e. Develop online portfolios as purposeful collections of materials to support:

- student learning continuity and transitions

- staff development activities

- libraries of shared learning resources

- qualitative management information in the form of students work which can be cross referenced and moderated - this brings out the best inteachers and the technology thereby has a clear educational value rather than being a bolt -on activity to learning.

Always work to use the technology to reduce teacher workload, increase quality time for curriculum delivery and development.

Sorry to bang on so long but I've rehearsed these arguments time and again over the last few years.

Hope this is useful - I'd be happy for some discourse.

David

* Any purchase of ICT kit must be based on the question - "how will this raise standards in my school?" - if the answer is not immediately clear do not buy!

Edited by deltahugs
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This may sound like heresy, but I don't believe in ICT as the panacea. There is nothing special about ICT. ICT is just another tool that you can take or leave, depending on your personal preferences. As a language teacher who saw the rise and fall of the language lab, which was once hailed as the panacea, I am naturally sceptical. See my article "Lessons from the past, lessons for the future" at http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/coegdd1.htm

where I cite Oppenheimer (1997:45):

"In 1922 Thomas Edison predicted that 'the motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system and [...] in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks.' Twenty-three years later, in 1945, William Levenson, the director of the Cleveland public schools' radio station, claimed that 'the time may come when a portable radio receiver will be as common in the classroom as is the blackboard.' Forty years after that the noted psychologist B.F. Skinner, referring to the first days of his 'teaching machines,' in the late 1950s and early 1960s, wrote, 'I was soon saying that, with the help of teaching machines and programmed instruction, students could learn twice as much in the same time and with the same effort as in a standard classroom.' [...] The cycle began with big promises backed by the technology developers' research. In the classroom, however, teachers never really embraced the new tools, and no significant academic improvement occurred."

Oppenheimer T. (1997) "The Computer Delusion", The Atlantic Monthly 280, 1 (July 1997): 45-62: http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/97jul/computer.htm

Here we go again...

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Graham,

I think your analysis is spot on!

To your language lab analogy I would add:

- the first use of colour televsion as a teaching aid which occured in the 1960's when I was in primary school - simple time shifting determined by the BBC programme schedules and marginalising the skills of staff

- the first punch card programmed computers of the 1970s which were the exclusive preserve of the maths and science departments

- the BBC machines, which in trying to develop a dedicated educational machine, blighted us with a technological dead end

- the development of intranets which were meant to free up resources but merely constipated them to the hours of the schools day multiplied by the number of machines available in school divided by the bandwidth of your internet connection.

In all cases the technology did not get close to raising standards in a sustainable way because teachers did not determine how the technology was to be used to support their professional expertise in selecting appropriate teaching and learning strategies.

That is why the future belongs to an inclusive ( simple to operate from your existing ICT competence no matter how limited) technology where teachers can experiment with the technology in limited ways initially and then develop more experimental ways to use the technology to pormote learning.

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Great analysis, David! I totally agree!

Another thing that irks me is the way in which ICT has insinuated itself into all subject areas. Here's the message from the horse's mouth under the heading ICT in Subject Teaching at the National Curriculum website: http://www.ncaction.org.uk/subjects/ict/inother.htm

As a general requirement, teachers should provide pupils with opportunities to apply and develop their ICT capability in all subjects (except physical education and the non-core foundation subjects at key stage 1). For each subject, these translate into specific, statutory requirements to use ICT in subject teaching.

Think carefully about this. You are not only expected to be familiar with the basics of ICT but you are also expected to apply ICT in your subject area. In other words, you are helping the staff of the ICT department to do their jobs! Let's suppose that the above statement read as follows:

"As a general requirement, teachers should provide pupils with opportunities to apply and develop their MFL capability in all subjects. For each subject, these translate into specific, statutory requirements to use MFL in subject teaching."

This is in fact what happens in many bilingual schools in Europe - and the outcomes are probably a lot more useful! It's high time that the privileged position of ICT in the curriculum and the hype associated with it was subjected to very close scrunity.

By that way, if you look at my CV (below) you will see that I am not a Luddite, but I firmly believe in keeping all technologies in their proper place.

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I had a conversation with an Australian e-learning guru in 1997 about what our university should be encouraging. My line was "let 1000 flowers bloom" - hers was that it was time to impose a standard and a system for e-learning. The standard extended to the size and layout of accompanying paper study guides (you can guess the Times New Roman was the font they preferred!).

It's not that I was against standards and co-ordination. It's just that if you get too dogmatic and technical at a stage when most teachers are very unsure about what they're doing in front of a computer at all - let alone what the best way of using one is - you end up stifling any creativity at birth.

In the succeeding 7 years, it certainly looks to me like my line was the right one … but I would say that, wouldn't I!

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Technologies of course can both deskill and oppress or reskill and rejuvenate. The crucial factor in determining which is it to be is how they are consumed. I find myself very much in agreement with David's earlier comment quoted below:

I had a conversation with an Australian e-learning guru in 1997 about what our university should be encouraging. My line was "let 1000 flowers bloom" - hers was that it was time to impose a standard and a system for e-learning. The standard extended to the size and layout of accompanying paper study guides (you can guess the Times New Roman was the font they preferred!).

Centrally imposed standards, procedures and expectations and all its associated control freakery will kill stone dead the teaching profession's willingness to experiment with e-learning.

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Guest Chris Sweeney

Here is my reaction to this - it is like most of the posters on this thread simply refuse to understand what it is that us non-ICT savvy people don't know. We don't even know the right questions to ask, until you tell us.

I feel like I am reading a foreign language.

David Hughes seems to be the only one even approaching saying what I want to say again and again about what I need - but my voice would get lost in the jargon the rest of you are speaking.

I am merely a classroom teacher working in conditions which A Moore has outlined often in other posts elsewhere - ignorance would best describe it. What chance do I stand against you 'experts'?

May I repeat? "I feel like I am reading a foreign language."

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Chris writes:

I feel like I am reading a foreign language.

Try learning a foreign language, Chris. It'll take you MUCH longer than learning the jargon used in this Forum. It took me five years to get to grips with basic Hungarian- as a very experienced language teacher and learner.

Think in SIMPLE terms, Chris. What do you EXPECT of new technologies? What aspects of your job would you like to be made easier? New technologies may have the answer, but the learning curve and the problems involved in implementing the new technologies may not be worth the effort. You ony find this out when you get stuck in and get your hands dirty.

The relevance of new technologies varies a lot from subject to subject. I am a modern linguist, and there are SOME aspects of new technologies that ARE useful, e.g. I can access up-to-date authentic texts in foreign languages on the Web and keep up and extend my knowledge of languages that I am already familiar with, or I can buy a CD-ROM that will familiarise me with the basics of a new language and take me through lots of practice exercises, enabling me to listen to native speakers, record my own voice and hear what it sounds like. In the end, however, NOTHING can replace a competent teacher and a long stay in the country where the language is spoken, getting lots of practice with native speakers and enjoying the local food and wine. As I indicated in my previous email, I firmly believe in keeping technologies in their proper place.

As for the jargon, well that's a bit of a red herring and not a major problem. You just have to LEARN jargon in much the same way as you learn a foreign language, i.e. look up the terms you don't understand and keep reading around the subject until they sink in. It's not THAT difficult. You can start with my ICT Glossary (for mFL teachers) at http://www.ict4lt.org/en/en_glossary.htm and you can use the "define" function in Google, which will give you lots of contextualised references to any jargon you don't understand. Just type "define" in the Google query box, followed by a colon and search term, e.g. "define:bandwidth". I just typed in "define:jargon". I like this definition that came up:

Technical language evolved by specialists so that they can communicate more accurately and efficiently about their interests or concerns.

highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072400846/student_view0/glossary.html

Every subject has its own jargon. Jargon can be a short-cut to expressing things in a more long-winded way, and it therefore has its uses. I am currently following the Ryder Cup. I play golf regularly, but I am sure that the jargon used by the TV golf commentators sounds like a foreign language too. When Peter Alliss says, "He was two clubs short on that shot", I know exactly what he means, but do you?

Haven't we been through this debate before? It sounds awfully familiar.

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Dear All,

You might wish to add OPEUS:

www.opeus.com

to the list.

This enables both staff and students, using no more that word processing skills, to develop webpages to a variety of formats and to have them authorised by appropriate staff.

OPEUS is in use with primary and secondary schools and colleges - particularly when technically sophisticated MLE and VLE solutions have been rejected as too difficult to embed to raise standards by influencing teaching and learning. Have to declare an interest here as I have been involved in specifying the educational thrust of the site and ensuring that it did not get so technically sophisticated that most teachers needed a completely new skill set before they could operate it in their subject areas.

You might find the following self managed websites of interest:

www.myopeus.com/highstorrs

who have justed started using it as a revision development aid with students posting their research to web as a shared resource. This both raises the motivation of individual students and builds a resource for future interrogation

www.myopeus.com/roundhill

is a primary school in Nottingham and the WW1 work might be of interest as it was started as a discussion group in school and was then developed in class and at home using OPEUS and then submitted to the teacher for markig and authorisation.

Hope this proves useful.

I'm firmly of the belief that the learning should determine the technology in this field rather than technical boffins circumscribing the educational use of the technology by including wizardry for its own sake.

... perhaps another discussion thread coming on here.

David Hughes

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I sympathise with Chris' reaction - I think there is a lot of impenetrable jargon used about e-learning. And when you decipher the jargon, you often discover attitudes and assumptions that you'd never accept if they were expressed in plain language.

One of the messages I tried to convey to teachers in the mid-1990s when computers which were connected to the Internet first made their appearance in Swedish schools went like this:

If you see your job as a teacher as being the transmission of information to your pupils, then these machines will always beat you, because they can find and distribute information much more quickly and comprehensively than you'll ever do.

However, since when was the transmission of information a teacher's primary job? Surely what we are here for is to help our pupils develop their capacity to make judgements about things like truth and falsity, morality, reasonableness. Computers are just not designed to do this.

--------

If you look at e-learning like this, then the decision about how and when to introduce computers into your teaching and the pupils' learning reverts to being a teaching decision, rather a technical decision.

One thing I've noticed again and again is the way it's the test-making and -marking functions of these Virtual Learning Environments that gets all the attention from the people who sell them (IT companies) and the people who buy them (educational bureaucrats). I'd call that a typical beginner's mistake by amateurs. Learning is about a lot more than the ability to test certain types of information-retention (I won't call it knowledge) in the most efficient way and then to produce a 'league table' for comparison. However, that's what the amateurs get most excited about - which is probably why you're saddled with Ofsted, SATs and the like in the UK.

In the early days of IT in education I felt the need for a word to describe what the amateurs wanted from their heavy investment in technology. They obviously didn't want anything that would be of real value to teaching and learning, because that would mean empowering teachers. What they wanted was "Something Posh to Impress the Punters" (or spip).

When the people I work with now receive the latest directive or enthusiastic bit of sales talk from an IT technician, our first question is "is this for real, or is it a spip?". If it's a spip, as it nearly always is, we know to smile sympathetically, perhaps produce a quick, meaningless exercise that looks good (we've got a collection now), and then go back to what we were doing before we were interrupted.

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David writes:

When the people I work with now receive the latest directive or enthusiastic bit of sales talk from an IT technician, our first question is "is this for real, or is it a spip?".

I like the term "spip"! I think I would probably include interactive whiteboards in this category. From what I've seen so far, these expensive pieces of hardware are completely under-utilised in schools. Most teachers using interactive whiteboards could achieve just as much with a laptop and a projector - or even with an OHP and a set of good transparencies. There's a good article at the Greenwich LEA site entitled "Interactive whiteboards - a luxury too far?": http://www.g2fl.greenwich.gov.uk/temp/whiteboards

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I have had a quick look at the OPEUS site. Re the e-Portfolio facility, the specific requirements of language learners are described at the European Language Portfolio website. It is probably worth having a close look at these requirements to see how OPEUS might benefit language learners and teachers: http://www.coe.int/portfolio

The European Language Portfolio is linked to the Common European Framework for Languages, which our government has finally begun to recognise - see the DfES Languages Ladder pages at: http://www.dfes.gov.uk/languages/DSP_languagesladder.cfm

See also the European Language Portfolio pages at CILT's website:

http://www.cilt.org.uk/elp.htm

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Here is my reaction to this - it is like most of the posters on this thread simply refuse to understand what it is that us non-ICT savvy people don't know.  We don't even know the right questions to ask, until you tell us.

I feel like I am reading a foreign language.

David Hughes seems to be the only one even approaching saying what I want to say again and again about what I need - but my voice would get lost in the jargon the rest of you are speaking.

I am merely a classroom teacher working in conditions which A Moore has outlined often in other posts elsewhere - ignorance would best describe it.  What chance do I stand against you 'experts'?

May I repeat?  "I feel like I am reading a foreign language."

As Graham has pointed out we have had the same thing said before (Christine S and Brin). At least Chris Sweeney uses her real name. However, these are points that are worth discussing.

It is true that any group uses language in order to stop people understanding what they are talking about. The use of jargon is part of that strategy. People in education are often guilty of doing this. This often happens with people who feel they have been over-promoted. They have a terrible fear of younger, brighter colleagues taking their job. They therefore use jargon to protect their position. They get this language from the TES or some INSET course they have been on. The use it in meetings with colleagues in order to give the impression they know more than they really do. It is not only senior members of staff who are guilty of this. Young entrants to the profession play this game. They hope to impress senior members of staff with their knowledge, unfortunately, it is more likely to frighten them.

People in ICT are the worst offenders when it comes to jargon. This is connected to their notion of power. The hold power in the school because they have specialist knowledge. If they share this knowledge they feel their power will be undermined. Therefore they use language to hold onto their power. Technicians as well as teachers use jargon in this way. In fact in many cases, their main priority is to stop using all this equipment. This after all only increases their workload.

Chris is therefore right to complain about the use of jargon in order to keep people from using technology in the classroom. However, she is wrong to accuse people on this forum of this. These people have a long history of trying to persuade teachers to use technology in the classroom. They give this advice freely on the forum. Go to this URL and ask your questions of these experts. You will find they are only too willing to answer your questions.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showforum=191

As far as your complaints about this particular thread is concerned. It would help if you gave examples of words you do not understand. I am sure the offender will be only too pleased to explain themselves.

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People in ICT are the worst offenders when it comes to jargon. This is connected to their notion of power. The hold power in the school because they have specialist knowledge. If they share this knowledge they feel their power will be undermined. Therefore they use language to hold onto their power. Technicians as well as teachers use jargon in this way. In fact in many cases, their main priority is to stop using all this equipment. This after all only increases their workload.

I used to work for the Vocational Training system in Sweden and one of the nearby centres provided a wonderful example of this phenomenon. When computers started being introduced into that centre in the late 1980s, it was one of the caretakers who took an interest and soon became the de facto IT technician, even though he didn't really know a lot about it. More computers were bought and networks established … and then came the cuts.

The management soon found out, though, that this caretaker had fixed himself a job for life (or at least as for as long as that centre was open), because he was the only person who knew where all the wires went. So they had to sack other caretakers, but leave his job alone.

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Guest Chris Sweeney

My apologies for not getting back sooner.

I guess it came across as an ungracious post, and of course, afterwards I realised that it would have no effect on how you talked anyway, not least because you are experts talking among yourself and are going to use 'jargon', just as anyone working in similar areas does with each other!

It was born of my frustration simply because I really do want to understand what is being said and learn from it and for just a split second - a mere moment - I felt so over whelmed I expressed my utter confusion! I most certainly was NOT accusing anyone of being so exclusive that they would not advise and help any forum member were help requested. Certainly not.

I shall use this thread in my teaching of Language and Technology. It will provoke a lively debate!

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