I have been a teacher of English for 24 years, a Headteacher for 9 years and, at the age of 48, this much I (don’t) know about the future of ICT in schools.
We all know the Wayne Gretzky quotation, Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is. The trouble is, I don’t know if we have the capacity to get ahead of the curve when it comes to the use of ICT in schools.
When I began teaching I had to use a Banda machine to repro hard-copies of poems we were studying. That puts into question whether I can ever really appreciate the potential of ICT to transform learning. (See below for an explanation of what a Banda machine was…)
Learning how to use software isn’t that hard anymore because it’s all so intuitive. I have only been on one proper ICT course – a whole weekend away somewhere in deepest Bognor Regis in 1989 learning how to word process on BBCs. It was a long weekend, but no Bank Holiday.
Programming and App creation are the future, apparently. I have no experience whatsoever of programming, except that our sixth form tutor group room was the sole computer room and I used to program on each computer: 10: The Clash; 20: go to 10; which pasted The Clash right across the monitors, much to my delight and my form tutor’s irritation. I feel like Peter Mannion in The Thick of It when it comes to Apps…
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We must resist going backwards when it comes to ICT. The elements of the proposed new National Curriculum which appear, at first glance, to be relatively traditional can easily encourage similarly traditional pedagogic approaches. We have to vary our pedagogy and that means engaging authentically with the new technologies. Whilst I feel like Peter Mannion, there are generations of young people who have known nothing but the sheer magic of Bluetooth.
I am constantly amazed at the creativity of youngsters. We spent a whole evening when we were in Scotland at Easter round the dinner table listening to my son Joe and his mates trying to invent the one App which would make them all millionaires. The best they came up with was the Ripoffter Scale TM App. You enter the name of the product and the price at which it is for sale and the App measures that price against all the other available prices for that product nationally. The more you are being ripped off, the more violently the phone shakes. I’d had a couple of single malts and was ready to ring the Intellectual Property Office there and then…
Twitter and Blogging have revolutionised my professional world, as they have for many people in education; Tom Sherrington feels similarly to me as do hordes of others. Michael Gove made a speech name-checking tens of educationalists, many of whom are known for their on-line presence. @oldandrewuk has never known such fame, ironically.
Chris Waugh @Edutronic_net is courage personified when it comes to encouraging students to engage with learning in their media. Visit his website and have a look around – it’s fabulous! Mark Anderson @ICTEvangelist and Martin Burrett @ICTmagic are similarly brilliant. And old friend Tony Parkin @tonyparkin stays as  young as ever on his diet of personable ICT conversation.
Sir Mark Grundy at Shirelands Academy seems to have got it right when it comes to ICT. If you ask him he’ll say that it there is no quick-fix when developing the effective use of ICT in schools; rather it is about creating a medium to long term plan and modifying the plan regularly as technology develops.
I am interested in Salman Khan’s notion of the flipped classroom, explained graphically here, as well as in the video below. On Newsnight this week they featured the Khan Academy and interviewed Anthony Seldon who said, I think we are just beginning to see in education the beginning of the biggest revolution since the printing press. And that’s my concern; we have the next three years of development at Huntington pretty well planned out, but we need to be planning for the generation of students beyond the next one, way after I’ve finished my work here.  
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I worry about schools which are buying i-Pads for everyone. If you have ever gone out to eat in a group including several teenagers, once the food has been eaten – and sometimes before it has even been served – they tend to default to a single screen each rather than converse.
I’m not a big fan of the Ready-Fire-Aim approach to implementing change. When our English and Media department wanted to implement an i-Pad strategy @HuntingEnglish and @KRE_ativity put together a compelling case for their proposal which is rooted in pedagogy. @HuntingEnglish has reflected several times on the success of the i-Pad initiative in the English Department at Huntington and there is reasonably good evidence to suggest that our students’ learning in English has benefitted from the technology. And, guess what? They bought just 18 i-Pads, which has meant the students have to share and subsequently talk to each other.
I love the increasing emphasis on evaluating impact on students’ learning through evidence-based research. We spend £170,000 p.a. on ICT at Huntington and I am determined to find evidence which will tell me whether that has resulted in £170,000 worth of impact on students’ learning.
We ban students’ mobiles on site, period. When our students cross the threshold into school at 8.30 am every Monday morning it must be like walking into a world from before they were born. During our last reduced-tariff inspection a temporary, highly-gifted Drama teacher was observed; he didn’t know the rules about mobiles, let the students film each other so they could discuss their acting skills whilst watching themselves replayed on their phones, and it was the only lesson of the eight observed which was graded outstanding. Funny.
Do we need a VLE/MLE, when we have Dropbox, WordPress, E-mail and remote access for parents to their children’s data? James Bowkett @James_Bowkett certainly doesn’t think so.
Get the right software/technology. We tried putting all Homework online via a Moodle VLE. It wasn’t very good, to be honest, and possibly had a detrimental effect on both the setting and completion of homework. After a year we took a vote as to whether we should continue to post homework on-line or not; we voted overwhelmingly to scrap it. Trouble is I think it was the right thing to do, but the wrong technology.
I know the key principle: ICT is a just another tool for learning and students need to have the option to use whatever ICT they might need in order to further their learning. It still doesn’t help me draw up a vision for ICT which I think we can deliver. But I bet I’m not the only Headteacher who feels like this. We have an ICT curriculum developer; we have a healthy looking audit of ICT usage across the curriculum; even I use Prezi, Tagxedo, blogging and Wordle in my own teaching. I still feel, however, we are not providing a modern learning experience for our young people.
I’m a good strategic thinker, but maybe not where ICT in schools is concerned. I feel like I am missing something. If our core purpose is to inspire confident learners who will thrive in a changing world, I feel we ought to get skating, fast!
Oh yes, the Banda machine: best read about it here. Note the emphasis upon the low quality of copying. They were functionally pretty useless, but the paper copies smelt heavenly!

Banda 3

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This post has 25 Comments

  1. Indeed they did – of Pear Drops (no I don’t have a picture of them if they were before your time). Absolutely brilliant assessment of the state of play re ICT in many if not all schools! Maybe we should turn to the age of the printing press to learn how they adapted/adopted and thrived?

  2. ICT is a huge challenge. Alan November once said getting teachers to change pedagogy to use ICT effectively was more difficult than getting them to change religion. The issue with ICT is maybe to use it effectively there needs to be a power shift in the class room so students make decisions about the where to and how of their learning. Without a shift in our qualifications system this is not easy at all. Time for Vision 2040?

  3. Probationary year late 80’s, bottom set year 11 triple lesson, Friday afternoon , split site, no SMT. Best bit of advice given, ” just BANDA anything and let’s them sniff it for the first ten minutes, they’ll convince themselves they’re getting high and calm down”………. It worked (sometimes).
    Agree with the thoughts on iPads,, I love mine but they are very personal pieces of kit. Some great APPs for illustrating science but no better than many websites or YouTube clips, and till requires the group or class discussion to embed the learning. The teacher
    less classroom is as faraway as the paperless one!

  4. I spent time thinking about this last night when I first saw your post. What irritates me about the ICT question is I don’t feel I have the expertise to know the ‘answer’ and I hate not knowing the answer! What I do know is that our students will find the answer before we do. The anecdote of your sons devising an app, with you willing to lead the sealing the patent, could be the microcosm to represent how we develop technology as a school. I also think that if we are to fulfil our core purpose to create ‘confident learners who thrive in a changing world’ then they will need to harness technology and they must be guided to do this with skill and understanding. I watch my daughter use my iPad with skill before she can even write and know the landscape of learning is changing, even though some eternal verities about guidance and instruction will remain.
    The ‘Digital Leaders’ concept we have put forward in the latest curriculum development plan isn’t a lazy nod to having a tokenistic student voice – it could be the key to discovering how we better use technology to enhance learning, if we do at all (as an aside, I think ‘Digital Leaders’ should be supplanted by ‘Learning Leaders’ who have a broader remit to engage with staff and make R&D a genuinely two way process). They could feedback on digital tools as well as shining the bright spots on great pedagogy around the school. A key question we need to ask about the iPad trial is ‘how do we use them better?’ and once more , I expect students to have the best answers.
    I think our movement away from fixed ICT suites to flexible devices is the right pathway. The model of rows of computers, with students tethered to them, often in a passive, individual bubble, is dying. A more dynamic and flexible interaction between students and devices is the way forward. Another practical factor is that schools around the country cannot afford cutting edge technology that can hope to keep up. This in itself will mean innovation will drive at a way to innovate software and the model of whole school hardware, like everyone owning an iPad, will be an anomaly. Like your sons pursuit of the next big thing, the answer will likely be found in a bespoke, personalised application that will be tailored to the individual school. I expect a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) model will end up the norm. It isn’t ideal, but it is financially viable and that will predominate. An application, linked to open source software like Google docs or WordPress (all free), will be the way forward in my opinion. Our new ICT leader should drive and investigate that. A closed VLE doesn’t develop or improve in anywhere near the speed and personalised, responsive manner like an application does.
    I think the idea of using mobile phones in school is a bit of a red herring. The issue is that our staff and most teachers have absolutely no understanding about how to harness the use of phones, therefore we simply ban them – quite understandably. I am not in favour of mobiles in school unless staff are trained to understand how they can improve learning. We wont be in that position anytime soon. If they don’t, or we can’t, then there is little case for their inclusion. I think we are a representative school in many ways in terms of technology use. It is a high cost approach to improving learning that simply is wasted if staff aren’t behind it or better understand how to use it effectively. It takes consistent training and a commitment that needs to be cultivated.
    The ‘flipped learning’ revolution symbolised by the Khan Academy is somewhat of a mirage in my opinion. Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch like it because it promises a scalable, profitable answer to curriculum development. The problem is that the best learning is always individualised and context bound to a school and its teachers. If, as a school, we developed our own video instruction model, integrated into our curriculum planning then it has a chance of working – with huge potential for success. I think it is potentially the answer to our homework question, but like most good things, it would take time and effort, as well as a shift in our pedagogy. Of course, the synchronicity with a bespoke school app is obvious. Both of these things require a thorough long term plan, with training steps embedded along the way. Is there enough evidence to ‘prove’ is works. Likely not. Anything that is truly individualised to a school context likely can’t be proven before it is tried. This leap of faith is difficult when we are anxious we don’t know the answer with the confidence we would normally attribute to our decisions in school.
    I come back to my daughter – negotiating an iPad before she has even arrived at Primary School. I am enough of a traditionalist to believe that the teacher role as instructor, giving expert explanations, asking great questions and giving timely feedback, will not have disappeared by the time my daughter reaches Secondary School; however, I’m sure she will be harnessing mobile technology to learn on a daily basis, in and out of school. Connecting the two in ways we haven’t even yet contemplated!

    1. Thanks Alex. It’s just really bugging me and I canfeel the same as you: What irritates me about the ICT question is I don’t feel I have the expertise to know the ‘answer’ and I hate not knowing the answer! Still, I agree with you – the answer lies in the students.

    2. Alex, your comment about having the expertise to know the answer and still not knowing the answer has hit the nail on the head.
      Thanks for articulating my frustration!

    3. Just playing the devil’s advocate for a while (and possibly going down the reductio ad absurdum route …), you say:
      “A key question we need to ask about the iPad trial is ‘how do we use them better?’ and once more , I expect students to have the best answers.”
      but then you say that:
      “The issue is that our staff and most teachers have absolutely no understanding about how to harness the use of phones, therefore we simply ban them – quite understandably.”
      … can’t you just expect the students to have the best answers, as you suggest re: iPads, and ask them?
      But (1) I confess to a slight concern with this tactic, after all – soldiers probably know a lot about how to make best use of guns and explosives etc but I wouldn’t ask them to formulate a foreign policy and (2) did the school similarly hesitate to use whiteboards, computers, video, cassettes, TV, radio, biros or books and wait on students to have the best answers? I guess that teachers in 1473|1950s|1980s would have absolutely no understanding about how to harness the use of books|TV|BBC Bs. Is there not a foundation of professional training that the staff and teachers can bring to bear on these issues? Is ICT so new and different? Surely what is important is to flip the fact that ‘our students will find the answer before we do’ around so that they are rewarded/benefitted/enabled in a meaningful way.

  5. I hope this ramble is ok John. I thought about writing a separate post in retort but thought better to keep the whole thing going on one page!
    I don’t claim to be an expert either, but as my Twitter ID suggests, I am a massive advocate for how the use of technology can transform learning and the lives of people who use it. The thing with technology is though, you will never ‘know the answer’!
    Moore’s Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore's_law) can help us a bit, but you cannot ignore it. @fraserspeirs explained it recently saying how with the world being like it is at the moment with technology, when his two year old daughter is at university in twenty of so years time, is it more or less likely that she will use technology to support and enhance her learning? Of course we know the answer, but with that in mind – which way do we go? Another large part of the problem is that technology can cost so much money. You talk about 170k of your budget going on technology – that’s 8 or 9 teachers. Does your spending have the same amount of impact on learning and progress that 8 or 9 extra teachers would have?
    Your experience re: banda machines – I remember when I was at school when my teachers would get out the OHP with the rotating wheel at the front and every lesson he would turn the wheel and move on to the next lesson. Many teachers still do this except it’s far more snazzy nowadays what with Prezi’s and PowerPoints. The thing with using technology; there are two camps:
    Camp 1 (Digital Skills / ICT curriculum): Students should have lessons where they learn to use software discriminatingly, learn how to handle data, so forth and so on…. ICT curriculum stuff… including a bit of Computing. In your post you talk about how learning to use software isn’t that hard any more because software is so intuitive. That is only true to a certain extent. Generally speaking, employers expect students to have a certain amount of digital literacy using generic software. Students need to learn how to use it somewhere and there is a significant amount that isn’t easy to use. If it was – everyone would be an expert.
    Camp 2 (ICT for learning): Technology is so pervasive in the lives of students and adults, it should be being used to support learning across the curriculum everywhere. How you go about enabling that is another matter. What Alex says above about ICT being in a bubble; being seen as something that happens in isolation, in Room 21b every Tuesday, Period 5, and only in that room is another part of the problem. It isn’t singular to ICT either. Students often see subjects in isolation, so when being confronted with a Maths problem in Science they don’t make the connection, so forth and so on. Building teacher confidence is key (http://ictevangelist.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Teacher-confidence.png) and models such as SAMR and TPACK will help provide frameworks linking technology with pedagogy and content knowledge. It is fair to say however that whilst we are masters of the pedagogy and content arena, when it comes to technology many teachers are not. We have had superb developments over recent years with digital leaders (http://ictevangelist.com/students-as-leaders/ & http://digitalleadernetwork,co.uk) – they can help transform technology use in the classroom. If you have enough of them, there could be one on hand in every lesson!
    Phone ban: Linking to yours and Alex’s comments about your phone ban; in order for technology use in lessons to be fruitful and of benefit, the culture and etiquette of how technology should be used for learning needs to be very clear and well established.
    Programming and App creation are the future: for some students yes, but not all. Just like not every student is going to be a rocket scientist, not every student will be a programmer. They should however have the opportunity to experience programming to see if it’s their ‘cup of tea’, most likely in KS3. Following on from that, a dual pathway for users and developers (ne @lessonhacker) would be a great way forward.
    I am constantly amazed at the creativity of youngsters: I wholeheartedly concur. We have a Year 9 student who has made our own first school iPad app which is live on the App store. He’s now working on one for the school radio. Bonkers. Giving students the opportunity to do these things opens their eyes to the possibilities for their futures. (Get the app here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/clevedon-school-handbook/id632060037?mt=8)
    Twitter and Blogging have revolutionised my professional world: This is true for the CPD of teachers but also can be a brilliant way for students to learn and develop themselves too. As you mention, Chris Waugh’s work with his students and blogging is amazing. The work of the likes of Julia Skinner @theheadsoffice and @deputymitchell have transformed literacy for many many students too.
    Sir Mark Grundy: I tend to agree with this. Cautionary note though – think about how this might work. Don’t always go chasing after the tail lights of the latest shiny new thing.
    Salman Khan / Flipped Learning: There’s a lot to be said positively about flipped learning but it’s about context. If students don’t have access at home, how does it work? What about the digital divide. What excites me about flipped learning is when you flip it again and the students work independently to create their own flipped resources which they showcase, share and critique as part of the learning process. (http://ictevangelist.com/mentormob-perfect-for-flipping-learning/)
    iPads for all: This goes to etiquette again. Clear, consistent rules. Manners. Digital Citizenship supremely important too! (http://ictevangelist.com/digital-citizenship/)
    Evaluating impact on students’ learning / banning phones: See above.
    Do we need a VLE/MLE? No – not really. What you need is something which works for your school, students and community. I’m looking in to iTunes U Course Manager at the moment as a vehicle for Schemes of learning which students can access at their own pace. Where core elements must be completed but with optional units which make up the full picture so students can personalise their learning.
    I’m a good strategic thinker: I think here a message of continuing to work with our young people to instil a sense of grit, determination and a growth mindset so that they can achieve, whatever is thrown at them is the key to success. I think, that with the right mindset, when it comes to Camp 2 (and a fair amount of Camp 1) students (and staff!) can achieve well when it comes to using ICT now, and in the future.
    A few links of interest on this topic:

    1. Thanks Mark – that’s tremendous CPD for me. I really do think the Digital Leaders initiative is key, as is flexibility. We have to risk-take and it’s moving colleagues into the digital world that takes detailed strategic work. And what you say about mindset is so true – we are working really hard on implementing a GM across the school. Small steps which collectively will shift a whole learning community in time – same as the approach required for ICT. This is really kind of you to help me with all these issues. I will, hopefully, pay you back some day! – John

  6. In some ways, this appears to be a strange issue…in that IT has been around in education for a long time, and you obviously have a lot of it knocking about in school already…is this a case of a loss of confidence in the SLT, because it revolves around technology?
    Up to now, most students will have been exposed to more of this technology in a domestic setting than at school – which is the same for most other people (my personal IT technology is more advanced than that available to me at work, and I work in a science profession). They will be more comfortable with the technology than you; education doesn’t need to worry about that aspect of it. Instead, maybe you should focus on what you want to deliver, and then look into how the technology might help you. As indicated in the thread above, there are two main aspects; the computing side (giving the students an opportunity to understand the technology – much like you would do in other areas) which allows those who will follow a path into the area professionally a chance to get started, and allow everyone else to get to know the basics. The second aspect is delivery of content/sharing of content….technology can be very useful here, and even, innovative….but in some ways this is mainstream for educators (?)… What would you like to do/share content wise? Then investigate how that could be done (social media being a good way of exploring that)….be driven from this side of the equation rather than from the technology side, I would suggest….

  7. I think that it’s an interesting issue. In my school all students have netbooks, and they actually don’t often use them at break/lunch unless they’re catching up on homework – they might share a screen to watch something, but for the majority of the time, netbooks are away at those times in groups of students. Mobile phones are still an issue, because while students insist they can text and listen, teachers (including me!) disagree and so using them *for learning* can be tricky.
    I find the netbooks invaluable and would always rather have something similar over ipads; I think they’re a more productive/functional device for learning – Ipads might have apps to do certain things, but for me, netbooks are a ‘working’ device.
    VLEs can be extremely useful, but a school/department has to know what they want from it – is it a lesson planned, filing cabinet online or something more interactive that can serve as a hub for external services as well? It needs teachers to be much more confident in their use of ICT as well – there is a prevailing fear, I think, especially in leadership and governors, who have heard all the horror stories and often don’t truly understand how these services work, which makes them reluctant to try things.
    We also forget that students don’t simply ‘know’ ICT either. I’m always a little surprised when students don’t know that Ctrl+A is select all, or that they can use other keyboard shortcuts to go to the beginning of the line, or copy and paste. Simple everyday tasks I barely think about (I hardly ever use the menus of software!) that they just haven’t learnt yet, but which I think are a part of digital fluency. We should remember it doesn’t just happen naturally and does need an element of teaching itself.

  8. Dear John,
    I share your angst; please bear with what will read like a brag initially.
    We have industrial standard wi-fi across our site, a BYOD policy, iPads for staff, PP students and class sets for lessons. Programming is mapped into a Business curriculum at KS3 and Twitter has been embraced by students, staff and parents for communication. 
    We have IOS coding students developing an innovation lab @thinkspaceuk and a permissive culture within our filtered learning environment.
    This list, in addition to our innovative use of Frog, SIMs, online booking and payment systems, really isn’t a brag but an expression of an informed risk strategy with the development of learning at DHSB.
    We have commissioned a longitudinal study of the impact of these innovations with @timbuckteeth at the University of Plymouth but the results of this are some way off.
    But It isn’t tidy. Like you, I have a problem with this, probably born from generational constraint. Having said that, our generation has a unique perspective on “the way things were” that will lead to important learning for our students in facing the dangers of screen obsession and digital footprints.
    This crucial development of learning refuses to be nailed down in a plan. It emerges and evolves from the steps we take. Our instincts and principles are called to the fore, (although I really liked @HuntingEnglish’s iPad proposal; how could you say, “No,”?)
    Strategically this isn’t an easy place for school leaders to be. Especially now, when resource is so clearly mapped to outcomes elsewhere in our planning.
    Perhaps my approach is summed up by Sir Stuart Rose’s take on the Socrates quote:
    “I know what I don’t know and not a lot of people know that.”
    The debate around technology and learning is frontier stuff and I want us to be engaged with it. That’s a vision statement right there (if in need of a little re-drafting).
    What I also know, is that this response, and the others above, helped my thinking. 
    We are modelling synthesis and evaluation in these responses. This reasoned articulation, if nothing else, is what we wish to see in our school communities.
    Thanks, as ever, for stimulating that thinking.

  9. On the Khan academy and the flipped classroom in general, I am very ambivalent. I worry that attempting to flip the classroom will conform the the Matthew principle, to the detriment of those who need most help. Also, veritasium (guy who makes youtube clips explaining physics), did his PhD looking at the effectiveness of video clips. It would appear that the model used by Khan, and others, of simply telling the right answer/way to do things is not particularly effective. This is a link to a video that Veritasium has made outlining the findings of his research.

  10. A great post John! I started my new post in January and am responsible for the smooth implementation of our new MLE Frog and using iPads to do Flipped Learning with 6th form. The problem is it is never smooth! You think you know how it will pan out but things crop up and you have to adapt accordingly. I’m using the student teaching and learning council to get feedback on how teachers are using the new technology and suggest ways on how we can make improvements. Coupled with this, we have a Digital champion in each faculty to feedback on what staff think about the new technologies we are using. It can be disheartening when it seems all you hear about are problems but, when I take a step back, that means staff are giving it a go and want to help to make it better. Leading on digital initiatives can be really scary at times because of all the uncertainty; what we’re trying to do is have a clear development plan which still has room for making changes based on feedback from staff and students.

  11. Thanks for this..I think it is really important that we are clear about terms and definitions.
    The clearest definition of terms comes from Peter Twining @PeterT at http://www.edfutures.net
    At the moment there is an awful lot of confusion about the national curriculum subject,Computing, which has 3 Components being Digital Literacy,Information Technology and Computer Science. Even the DfE and Ministers wrongly use Computer Science as the NC subject.
    Professor Twining suggests that we can now reclaim the term ICT to mean the use of technology across the curriculum?
    The DfE Expert group I chair is made up of experienced teachers who are currently uploading links and resources we feel will help teachers in the transition to the new national curriculum.
    Other useful links can be found at the end of my recent article “Countdown to Computing” on SecEd Digital last week

  12. Thank you John for such a stimulating piece. Having once embraced with vigour and much time and energy the idea of developing a school-wide open-source VLE such as Moodle, my approach has changed markedly in the last two years. I now favour a ground-up organic farming model rather than imposing a industrial-farming top-down system long on bells and whistles but in practice short on genuine student and teacher generated learning materials.
    Some thoughts on apps and activities that I have enjoyed using can be found here

  13. First, a ‘thanks’; have been reading your blog for months, with much of it then being shared with colleagues at school; an enriching experience.
    First, I’d like to imagine that someone comes up with a brilliant revolutionary idea for schools: BYOB – Bring Your Own Book. Can you imagine the enthusiasm with which this would be met? Teacher’s all over the country would love it! ‘Can you believe we’ve got children WANTING to learn?’ the teacher’s would be crying with enthusiasm. Why aren’t we embracing technology with the same glee? Why are we even using the term ‘technology’, when all it really is is another resource to support learning (much the same as a book, or pair of compasses, or a pencil, whatever). Whatever it is, if it’s an aid to learning, surely we should encourage them to bring it to school?
    For me, trying to see how ICT fits within the current curriculum paradigm is the mistake we’re making. We need to allow the ICT to become transformative. But this is the scary bit, as it challenges all the things we take as ‘givens’. Such a ‘lesson’, derived from the story or sermon given or handed down by experts for centuries. Why is learning still organised like that? The ‘knowledge’ that used to be imparted is now everywhere, accessible in any and every device. For me, this is where the teacher is still ‘king’, but through using their expertise and knowledge of their children to be more a ‘facilitator’ than ‘teacher’. Scrap subjects, scrap lessons, and let ‘personalisation’ truly happen through brilliant teacher/student relationships and outstanding formative assessment. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe I should be learning more from Sugata Mitra, and the idea that teachers just ‘get in the way of learning’ http://bit.ly/18yg8fu ?
    I think schools can still play a key part in children’s learning, but not if we insist on a factory model of education which does little to prepare children for today’s world, never mind tomorrow’s… Stephen Heppell warns that unless we change, then ‘twenty first century learning could be the death of education, but not of learning’.
    Interesting times ahead….

  14. ‘We spend £170,000 p.a. on ICT at Huntington and I am determined to find evidence which will tell me whether that has resulted in £170,000 worth of impact on students’ learning.’ That’s a great thought. As a governor, I’d love to know how we quantify pounds-worth of learning. Please keep us posted!
    I too have been reading your blog for some time, and love the way it inspires learning in others. None of this would be possible without the technology. I agree with Paul Martindale (?) above. We need to concentrate on capitalising on teachers’ ability to form relationships and create a climate of deep trust where students mature emotionally and are confident enough to take risks, and learn through what inspires them. I think that means teachers having to let go of control, which for many is scary (though perhaps those individuals aren’t in your school?). There are lots of subliminal messages and symbols (even more since ‘learning and teaching’ went back to being ‘teaching and learning’) which put teaching and teachers at the heart of schools, rather than learning and learners. What would happen if we changed the language to signal the paradigm shift?

  15. Hi John
    You start with the famous quote from Gretsky. I’m not an expert but believe the aim of ice hockey is to get the puck in the opponent’s net more frequently than they do in yours. The current size and make-up of the puck, the material used to make the sticks, the padding and so on are just the specifications of the things used at the present time to help achieve that goal. And while the coach will have a view on these things, his or her eye will be on the bigger picture and team performance. So too with technology in education.
    Being overwhelmed buy the rapid change in technology is understandable – and education is not alone – but there are ways of managing it. I like a model of strategic intent described by Max Boisot and discussed by Brent Davies (Strategic Direction and Devleopment of the School, http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Strategic_Direction_and_Development_of_t.html?id=v7k-8qDKOoMC&redir_esc=y) as it deals with the issues of rapid change and organisational capability to respond. Despite being first published before the turn of the Century, I still think it has strong relevance today.
    The model has two axis: one of increasing change (or turbulence) on the vertical, and understanding on the horizontal. There are four ‘strategic responses’ described in this space: ’emergent strategy’ (low understanding, low turbulence), ‘intrapreneurship’ (low understanding, high turbulence), ‘strategic planning’ (high understanding, low turbulence), and ‘strategic intent’ (high understanding, high turbulence). See the book or read this (http://www.corwin.com/upm-data/24490_Davies_1st_Chapter.pdf) for definitions of the terms.
    In short, we usually aim for the ‘strategic planning’ phase as it’s here where we can define measurable success criteria. However, at times of high turbulence (like any time in education!! and especially when dealing with technology), it is useful to develop a set of strategic intent from which you can phrase short-term strategic plans.
    This process builds links between the long-term aims and values of the school (stewarded by SLT/ governance) and the realisation of shorter-term plans (a middle-management function). So by leading on strategic intent, you don’t have to worry about keeping up with every App, web-service, tablet, cloud-based service, iBanda or what-ever. That’s a detail for implementation just like choosing the right ice-hockey padding or the best stick for a team member.
    You can keep a check on your strategic intents by looking around at what others are doing and have someone keep abreast of technology developments who can advise you on how they might help meet your broader intentions. But reacting to these without a strategic framework is like being permanently stuck in technological fright-flight mode.
    Most technology developments have social consequences: e.g. personal devices mean people expect access to information immediately – where could this help improve attainment? Or, some parents are very difficult to reach – what tech do they use that would help us to draw the school and their child’s achievement to their attention? We have a duty to keep our children safe – what technical, educational… and so on. These types of consequences can be good for considering strategic intents in IT as they focus on behaviours and human outcomes.
    I also think this leads to a more coherent approach to technology. It gives structures for accountability and reduces institutional anxiety about technology and, crucially, frames success in the language of the school and not of IT. I.e., it helps you keep an eye on scoring the goals.

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