Sunday, 13 January 2008

New Year, New Opportunities?

From a closed forum I contribute to, I Asked the following question.

With the start of 2008 What do you see as the important challenges/changes for the coming year?

I suppose I should answer my own question: I see (Gazing into my Crystal Ball); Changes:

- Most schools having a virtual display board; be that a Blog, a wiki, Glow, media sharing site (a safe one of course)

- E-twinning - loads more schools using the easy links made possible with ICT to communicate with other pupils else where in the country or the world using Skype, Glow (with Maratech), Flash Meeting, Yugami, or any other VC app that appears.

- Unfortunately I also see the continued, unquestioning, distribution of IWB's. I say unfortunately because I just don't get them. They are useful in some classrooms and at some ages ( Watch the video, its great. Though I should confess its from one of our feeder primary schools pre 5 units) but why is it best to follow the old models of teachers standing at the front and 'chalking and talking'?

- a few will move further down the 1-to-1 route. Primary schools using the Linux based machines like the minibook. Secondary schools developing the use of Write On technologies like UMPC's or Tablets.


- getting more teachers reflecting on where technologies can be a positive advantage within their teaching and not 'another thing to learn'

- making it sustainable. Realising that a lot of money could switched from the Photocopying technologies to Information Technologies.


Anonymous said...

I'm taking issue with your comment about the unbiquitous nature of IWB's. The real problem is not the introduction of the boards themselves, which has, I agree, been almost unquestioning - a fact that I find somewhat scary, given that we are supposed to be living in a 'free society'... one that accepts such tools unquesioningly needs to shake itself awake and ask some important questions at least. But I digress... the thing people seem to toally MISUNDERSTAND about IWB is the 'I' part. INTERACTIVE. We know that people learn better by doing something themselves - kineastheic learning and all that - the INTERACTIVITY of a whiteboard is meant to encourage teachers to get their students to learn more about what they are trying to teach by giving them opportunities to physically interact with the material. In the classrooms where there are inspirational teachers (who would create sound learning opportunities regardless of what technology they have available to them anyway!)you see individuals, small groups and large groups at different stages in a lesson, all interacting with the material that the IWB is giving them access to. What really needs to happen is that staff need to be given the opportunities to develop their own teaching to properly accomodate this concept to make it a truly powerful, effective teaching and learning tool, rather than a modern chalk-and-talk blackboard which does NOT promote individual high-quality learning. Just felt I needed to say something - I used to train staff to use IWB's and found that teachers fall into 2 categories - those who 'get' interactivity as an essential part of the T&L process and those who don't. I wonder if anyone else agrees?

islayian said...

Hi Liz
I must say that I agree with the points you raise.
Interactivity is the vital part.
Surely then we should be giving the learning into the hands of the learner?

Mark Payton said...

I think that a big part of the misunderstandig problem that Liz mentions is inertia and fear of change on the part of many instructors. Those who traditionally taught in a lecture format will tend to use new technology of any kind in that same lecture style. It's not technology training that they need but training in alternative teaching methodologies.

I do think it is unfortunate that Tablets are not making more headway in the lower grades. In my experience, by the time students reach the upper grades their keyboard habits are ingrained and it is difficult to teach THEM that the pen is a powerful alternative. (Sometimes even young dogs can't learn new tricks easily.) Young children "get" the pen immediately.

As for interactivity, the Tablet PC is a very powerful platform for that with tools like Classroom Presenter and DyKnow and even OneNote with shared notebooks. Couple a OneNote shared session with a wireless projector and you can put any IWB to shame.

islayian said...

I agree. Infact the use of UMPC's in the hands of pupils, shared notebooks (both live and server shared) and wireless projectors are what we are using at the moment. With plans to roll out Classroom presenter.