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ICT in Education

Government believes technology can help raise educational standards

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Gove’s Office responds to Naace recommendations after Policy Exchange event:

Quote: “I can assure you that the Government believes that the effective use of technology can support good teaching and help raise educational standards. It is critical to effective learning in the 21st century.” The full response is available at http://bit.ly/okrsVT .

Written by Paul Heinrich

September 28, 2011 at 7:46 am

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Emergent Issues & Expert Recommendations from “The Future of Technology in our Schools: What Next?”

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A crucial meeting on the future of ICT in schools was held in London last week where experts  reviewed emergent issues and made expert recommendations. The following is the press release from Naace.

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On Thursday 8 September, a highly expert group gathered  to discuss the Future of Technology in Schools: What Next.

While both schools and students have a greater access to technology than ever before, concerns remain over whether this capacity is being used to best effect, and over the future direction of the role of technology in education. Since the election of the Coalition Government, technology has not featured prominently either in ministerial statements or in policy developments emanating from the Department of Education. Given the Government’s focus on structural school reform through the Academy and Free School programmes, this is understandable, but it has fuelled fears in some quarters over a lack of clear policy direction in this area, especially given the transformative effect it can have.

The discussion addressed a number of issues related to these points. Of particular note were a number of emergent issues that require a policy response:

Research into neurology is showing that children and adult learning approaches, and how they interact with other people, are changing as the use of technology in our lives becomes ever more ubiquitous. There is even some research indicating the possibility y that existing educational approaches may become less effective as a result. This implies that continuing with existing good teaching approaches is not sufficient and that schools need to explore how technology can maintain the excellence of teaching and extend it. Further to David Cameron’s speech warning of the dangers of ‘coasting’ schools, this is a matter which needs to be urgently addressed in order to continue to lead the world as an economically competitive workforce.

Recommendation: Research is required into how Teaching & Learning strategies, and thus workforce CPD and Standards, need to be shifted in order to address the current mismatch between human web-influenced behaviour, and educational practice.

Consumer use of technology is being increasingly used for semantic and behaviour analysis; for example consumer profiling by supermarket loyalty cards, in order to more effectively target advice, and influence future purchasing behaviours. Educational use of secure technology can benefit greatly from these 21st century automations, with benefits to be found in automated resource differentiation, confidential formative assessment analysis, and semantic recommendations for teaching materials, learning resources, and parental guidance materials.

Recommendation: Research is required into ways in which lessons can be learned d from consumer profiling practice, in order to make education technology realise corresponding benefits with consideration for pupil data protection issues.

Developments in technology mean that it is now common in schools for the majority of students to have their own smartphones. With internet capable phones now reaching the second hand market and phone companies giving unlimited bandwidth in phone packages, student ownership of such devices will rapidly extend. The impact of enabling students to use their own phones and personal technology devices in their learning has been shown to be high.

Recommendation: Facilitation and support is required for the sharing of practice between schools of how to effectively and safely use students (and other stakeholders) own devices as part of their everyday learning practices.

Parental engagement through technology is growing rapidly in the schools that are espousing the use of technology for this. This impacts very positively on students’ engagement with school and on their behaviour and is much appreciated by parents. There now seems little excuse for schools not to use technology to keep parents much better informed about their children’s work and achievements, or for parents to enquire about this when they are selecting a school for their children.

Recommendation: Facilitation and support is required for the sharing of practice between schools, of how to effectively engage parents in meaningful ways, through the use of technology, which directly support and impact student standards.

The possibilities for schools to save considerable sums of money and make processes more effective through the use of technology, online platforms and cloud technology are now clearly proved through the actions of a substantial number of schools. The value for money of the investment in educational technology can therefore be enhanced further if schools share these successful strategies together.

Recommendation: Facilitation and support is required for the sharing of practice between schools of how to use technology effectively to reduce costs, emissions and workload.

Since schools have been given greater autonomy, many have shown that they are committed to use of technology to support excellent teaching and learning and are acting accordingly. However others are not generating their own vision and appear to need some leadership in this from government. The issue of government leading in promoting the vision that some schools lack was seen as clearly distinct from government directing or regulating, but will require some action if the developing digital divide between technology-aware schools that are creating extended
learning and those that are not is to be managed and minimised.

Recommendation: A single, clear, overarching Vision should be articulated by Government that positions the centrality of technology as a vehicle for achieving much broader educational success.  For example, “Why should… where I live, which school I attend, where I work, who I know, where I am, or what I can afford, define the boundaries of my learning, and therefore my chances in life? This Government believes that the use of Technology, embedded in educational practice both within and beyond schools, removes those traditional boundaries and constraints  from individuals, and facilitates every citizen to contribute to our globally competitive British  workforce”.

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Excellent stuff! Now what response will be forthcoming from government?

Written by Paul Heinrich

September 12, 2011 at 2:27 pm

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The “digital native” really is a myth!!

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There has been debate around Prensky’s theory for some time and now new research from the Open University, reported in the blog Merlin John Online seems to entirely debunk the idea. Further evidence that schools must continue to teach ICT capabilities.

Written by Paul Heinrich

August 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm

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Naace Conference 2012

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3rd Millennium Learning – the Compelling Case for ICTis the theme for the 2012 Conference which takes place at the Marriott Hotel, Leicester from Thursday 8 – Saturday 10 March 2012. Further information on the Naace website .

Written by Paul Heinrich

June 25, 2011 at 10:40 am

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New insights into life on planet Gove – possibly

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Well it’s possible! Michael Gove will be at the Royal Society on Wednesday morning 29th June making a speech quote ‘to discuss ideas about the National Curriculum Review, the exam system, and particularly the importance and role of maths and science.’ No mention of ICT there, so possibly not the announcement on ICT policy and futures that has been expected before the end of term.

Written by Paul Heinrich

June 25, 2011 at 9:48 am

The flogging will continue till morale improves . . .!

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This is not a good time to be working in education. Schools and teachers are under attack from several directions at once – pensions, the revised OFSTED framework, Gove’s latest targets wheeze, the Wolf Report and the National Curriculum review. And we thought New Labour were centralist dictators!!!

Now I know, from many years in education that schools are not perfect. There are weak teachers, incompetent heads, weak leadership, sometimes poor resources and difficult pupils and parents. But this is not a modern phenomenon it has always been thus and non amount of targets and other meddling by ministers will change that – in practice it will often make things worse by downgrading the professional role of teachers to technicians who will jump through whatever hoop is place in front of them.

So what will be the impact of the latest poorly constructed headline grabber, that all schools must have 50% of pupils gaining five good GCSE grades (i.e. passes at C or above)? All schools must be above average! Now it’s a while since I last did a statistics course but even so I sense a small mathematical implausibility here. But of course, modern children are so much more intelligent, better motivated, have more supportive parents, fewer special needs and nothing to distract them from academic learning compared to those of Gove’s generation.

I’m a product of an ancient rural grammar school. Entry was via the 11+ for 60 boys from a catchment extending from Sheringham at one end to Stalham at the other (and 4 secondary moderns catering for the others. Some 60 girls went to a girl’s selective school. Now, we were the elite, the 20% of our generation who would take the GCE O-Level and possible progress to A-Level and may be even university. Looking back just over half of us achieved five or more GCSE passes and entered the 6th Form and about a third of those went on to university. This, in that golden age, from a supposed ‘good’ school.

Thus about 12% of the age group in that area of 1960’s Norfolk actually achieved Gove’s benchmark of five good passes and less than 5% reached university. And we are constantly told that things are getting worse not better.

That is not to deny that there are not issues, but raw targets will not resolve these. We do need a greater emphasis on core skills in language, mathematics and science, which will bring benefits throughout the curriculum. We need to set higher expectations too, including more rigour in examinations – some may decry Wolf but her report only confirms what many of us already knew. But then these courses evolved to meet a need generated by the policies of the last government, offering schools a quick fix solution. No doubt something else will emerge to meet the new demands.

Or perhaps not. Before the national curriculum review is even properly under way the core secondary school curriculum has already been defined by the ludicrous EBacc. Where then is the scope for a proper, rational, research-based debate on a curriculum for the third millennium? Lost in the mists of political dogma and traditionalist rhetoric. One would have hoped for better from our supposedly well educated (well public school educated at any rate) political masters. And so Biblical Hebrew (an acceptable EBacc subject) is declared more important than ICT, Design and other subjects that are critical to the economic future of UK plc. In a rational world you could not make this up – but then politicians do not seem to inhabit a rational world.

Then there is the attack on primary schools in deprived inner city areas. I’ve worked with such schools where the Year 6 on which they are judged often includes new migrants, non-English speakers, 30% or more special needs and more. Rarely are these the same cohort who entered the school aged 4+ making any judgment based on SATs outcomes a statistical joke but even progress over a six year period cannot be assessed. Not to worry however, the impossible can be achieved; it’s just the miracle that takes a little longer – aided by enforced academy status with all the disruption that brings. Of course, the expensive new uniform (that the parents cannot afford) will make all the difference.

And then there is OFSTED, now equipped with a bigger and better stick . . .!

Written by Paul Heinrich

June 17, 2011 at 8:24 am

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STOP PRESS

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Paul Heinrich will be available as an Education and ICT Consultant full time from 8th August 2011. To see the range of services available, pricing structures and to make a booking click HERE.

Written by Paul Heinrich

May 12, 2011 at 9:29 am

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