It’s good because, in my opinion, it’s pretty spot on. I also think the format is interesting.
I have just updated my article entitled What’s RSS and why is it useful? It still contains the basic information, but now that Google has decided to axe its RSS reader, I’ve included a note about alternatives, and a link to a very informative article on the subject.
Here are a couple of conferences coming up which look pretty good, and which are taking place in England in the near future.
This is the conference of the The Association for Information Technology in Teacher Education (ITTE), and takes place from the 8th to the 10th July. It describes itself as:
A chance to network with professionals and debate the political, social and cultural issues that are impacting on the ways in which children learn about computing today, in school and beyond.
Mirandanet is playing a major role in the conference. To quote:
Join in the debate. Contribute a paper on the major challenges you see in the five themes below.
· Initial Teacher Education - current developments;
· Primary ICT: new curriculum and applications of ICT in the classroom;
· Secondary: the computer science curriculum, cross curricular applications and ICT application to other subjects;
· Whole school management issues: moving to the Cloud, Flipped classrooms, BYOT/BYOD etc;
· Formal and informal CPD: digital technologies and professional learning - opportunities and challenges.
It looks really good. Find out more by going to the ITTE website.
This takes place on May 22nd, so you will need to get your skates on if you wish to book a place. The focus is very much on tablets and their effects on learning. There are talks by Headteachers, which is always handy for finding out what a school did and why, and how well it worked. Also featured on the programme are a couple of academics, which I think is good because while anecdotal evidence is fine up to a point, it’s important to have a more objective view too.
To find out more about the conference check it out online: ELF Spring Conference.
I watched an episode of that seminal contribution to English culture, Waterloo Road last week, for the first time in ages. I wrote about Waterloo Road in What makes a good ICT role model? if you’re interested, but basically it’s a soap set in a school which has to be the most dysfunctional school anyone has ever come across. The kids are alright (as some pop song said once), on the whole – but the adults…..
Anyway, in this particular episode the boss of the school (not the headteacher) decreed that the deputy headteacher she had just appointed would observe lessons, with no warning to staff or discussion with them. Leaving aside the fact that in any normal school that sort of thing would probably cause a few ‘issues’, it probably wouldn’t even achieve anything of much value anyway. In my opinion, observations of ICT lessons in particular should follow the following principles and practice, in addition to generic ones that would apply to any subject.
Going back to Waterloo Road, if you ever have the chance to watch it take a look at the interactive whiteboards. They invariably show a screenful of text which nobody would be able to read from the third row backwards (yes, the kids are sat in rows). That sort of display is pointless, because it achieves nothing useful. Therefore it’s a bad use of ICT.
If the teacher is using ICT, or expecting the kids to use it, then her skills ought be up to scratch. I think saying “The kids know more about it than I do” is a cop-out. If you don’t have the skills you need to use ICT properly, then acquire them.
There may be a wider issue: does the school as a whole make adequate provision for training teachers and for their professional development? If teachers are told ‘you must use ICT in every lesson’ (a dreadful, anti-educational and anti-intellectual injunction in my opinion), then there is a moral obligation to provide them with the skills and the confidence with which they can do so.
A useful guideline here, I think, is to ask whether the use of ICT does one of the following:
Support: the technology helps you do what you were doing already, but more efficiently.
Extend: the technology is helping you do something different, but you could actually achieve the same without using technology.
Transform: You’re doing or teaching something different – and you could not really do so without using ICT.
You can read more about this approach to impact on the Edfutures website.
Not just in a technical sense, but are they displaying good practice?
In other words, do they know why they are using it? Have they made, or would they be able to make, an active choice to use it (or not to use it)?
I haven’t said anything about the curriculum or scheme of work yet, but this is crucial. If the context and activities are poor, or not open-ended enough to allow for development, that will be reflected in individual lessons, probably in the form of being boring.