Archive for January, 2009
I just read this in last weeks TES:
‘Most teachers think smaller class sizes would help to improve learning according to a new poll’
You don’t say!!
In my last post I mentioned ‘cloud computing’ as the future for schools, removing the struggles with networks and other technology needs that many schools endure.
A couple of additional things about that:
Firstly a youtube video which shows what cloud computing is:
Secondly, amongst many others, a compelling reason for schools to participate in cloud computing is because of the inevitable increase, as they implement more technology, in unstructured data. Such things as email, instant messaging, word processing documents, web page content, audio and video files need classification, storage and retrieval conventions and standards that are difficult to arrive at, implement and manage.
This is just another layer of technical expertise and management that serves to deflect from core activities, in the case of schools, education provision.
The more I consider this the more I believ in this inevitability of schools going the cloud computing route. If I am right about this, all those involved in technology provision in the education system from central and local government to individual schools should be taking it into account in their planning.
So another BETT passes us by. As ever the show was huge (although minuscule by say Frankfurt Book Fair standards). For me this year was characterised by ‘very little to report’, a sense that we were seeing more of the same, no sense of any real visibility of things to come.
This is hardly surprising in times when so much is in doubt, not least the detail of how the application of digital technology for education will actually shake down. Eavesdropping on conversations between teachers at the crowded café areas seemed to indicate that the spectre of the implementation of Learning Management Systems was looming large.
Many schools continue to struggle with their own networks and adding the additional LMS layer can only serve to add further complication. It is not the capabilities of schools network administrators that is in doubt but the fact that teachers are not given the time, opportunity, training to really understand the implications of digital technology on what they do.
Goodness knows what it must be like for a teacher to make sense of the myriad digital offerings on display at BETT. I find it incredibly confusing, and I’ve been ‘in the business’ for over 20 years.
All of this is exacerbated by the fact that in all likelihood the VLE’s and LMS’s being rather painfully introduced into schools will quite quickly become redundant as the concepts of cloud computing, physical IT needs being met from out there in the ether, hits the world of education.
Seeing the gimmicky introduction by Smart (the interactive whiteboard people) of the ‘Smart table’ suggests to me that too much effort is being made to introduce the next iteration of stuff (Gillette like) – technology rather than application led. I am old enough for these interactive tables to remind me of the old ‘Space Invader’ tables that enjoyed a brief sojourn in pubs across the land but died a rather fast death condemned to far corners under spilt drinks and distant memories.
The Smart tables use double touch technology and I imagine are quite fun….for a few minutes. Outside of that I simply ask the question, “Why?”.
The other big question on peoples minds is ‘what? That sense of not knowing where things will shake down does leave the purveyors of digital offerings in a bit of a vacuum.
As a colleague remarked at the show perhaps everything should just stop for a year or two, until there is some more clarity over where things are going.
Broad Haven Primary School, Pembrokeshire have used a software facility called ‘Kids voice’ which is part of the ‘LocalEyes’ initiative to get the views of 45 of their schoolchildren in years 4,5 and 6 on various topics. The topics are rated with the highest rated topics being voted on with a view to actual implementation.
The consequence has been more money allocated to new books, 10 new laptops purchased and new goal nets under consideration.
In their own words;
“We are using “Kids VOICE” on LocalEyes, to teach our children about democratic processes in a very practical, powerful and local way.”
So is this ‘pupil voice’ in action? Not if you consider, as I do, that the concept of ‘pupil voice’ is more to do with moving towards true self directed learning than learning democratic principles or how to run a school.
Actually it shouldn’t really need the voice of ‘kids’ to highlight the self evident facts of a dearth of books or too few laptops in the school.
It does though need the voice of kids to express their individual likes and dislikes, aspirations, inclinations, areas of interest, towards their own control of their individual destinies.
This is the real goal of ‘pupil voice’, the real potential to allow young people to satisfy their innate curiosities in a way appropriate to them, ‘minimally invasive eduaction’.
So applause to Broadhaven Primary School’ for scratching the surface but if the potential of proper, personalised self directed learning is to be realised we will need to dig much deeper than that.