Who recognises the impact of ICT in education?

It’s good to see the Times Educational Supplement reporting on ICT in schools (magazine 30 july – ‘Byte the dust’) and I have a deal of respect for Peter Banks who is achieving great things in his school (I’ve never met Roger Mitchell, no doubt the same applies) but I can’t help feeling they could have put over a much more positive view of the impact of ICT. Maybe they did and it is Nick Morrison the reporter who is to blame. If the leaders in the use of ICT in education can’t paint the picture of really powerful impact, then as a community we are in trouble.

So what should have been said?

– Visualisers. Maybe Broadgreen did buy too early but maybe their lack of success with them is because they are a secondary school and the visualier is an ideal tool for primary, not so much in secondary. Go and look at the visualiser forum http://www.visualiserforum.org/ for loads of examples. It’s a fabulous tool through which pupils can digitise their concrete work in order to share it with their families online, it is great for all kinds of assessment for learning purposes and it turns teachers into creators of digital resources they can share with colleagues.

– Integrated Learning Systems. I know reporters like to concentrate on bad news, but how about a mention of the SAM Learning systems whose use has been extensively researched by the Fischer Trust and the positive benefits clearly shown.

– Registration by card-readers. Yes, lots of pounds wasted, but not the fault of technology but a failure to think through what the pupils might do to subvert the system. But if you look at another system to aid school organisation, cashless catering, considerable benefits. Or how about the schools saving £10,000+ annually because they have moved lots of paper into digital form on the school’s learning platform?

– Too few books and too much ICT? How about the teacher who has created a step-change in the amount of reading her class is doing by getting the children posting their book reviews online in the school’s platform. It’s not an either-or question, it’s how ICT can complement the good things in long-standing educational approaches.

– Interactive whiteboards as white elephants? Well any elephant is a white elephant if you can’t drive it and make it work for you. Is education to remain stuck in a textual and paper world when the rest of the world is becoming highly visual, animated and digital. If we don’t have ability to display digital in classrooms teachers will be missing out on massive opportunities to enhance their teaching and their pupils’ learning. And starting to use digital resources is just the first step to using them interactively and collaboratively with the pupils.

I suppose Nick Morrison’s final comments say it all, “…. it may be time to question whether ICT is really all it is cracked up to be.” Nearly ten years ago, just as one example, the European Education Partnership (http://www.eep-edu.org) anlaysed where the value-add in education comes from with ICT. I suggest it may be time to questions whether reporters and anyone else who cannot give a clear statement of why ICT is vital should be doing better research.

Or maybe it is that we as an ‘ICT in Education community’ have failed so far to express the benefits clearly enough. That’s why I have decided to dedicate the Broadie Associates website to bringing together the stories and the evidence (http://www.BroadieAssociates.co.uk).

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