Technology: It’s important but isn’t a one size fits all.

 

2014-08-16 17.30.17

 

I’ve been talking to lots of people about technology recently and, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I think it’s worth saying a few things. Again.  I know that the use of technology in school makes teaching and learning better.  It can smooth the ‘back office’ and planning tasks to free up time.  It can provide swift and accurate data.  It can be used in transformative ways in the classroom.  For example, set up a geocache or a travelbug.  Set it off on an adventure.  Track it.  The map above is my son’s travelbug.  It’s not up-to-date. It’s now in Ney York City, USA.  I know that the connections are being made in your mind.  Geography, Art, Maths, English, History, Science….  It can all hinge off a £2 piece of metal and a smartphone.

The problem I do have is with the idea that schools should subscribe to one flavour of technology.  This is not only mental, it just doesn’t make pedagogical sense.  I believe that teachers should be autonomous professionals that select the best tool for the job for the young people in front of them.  It’s true.  Teachers really do have a lot of autonomy when you think about it.  What I can’t stand is the idea that injecting any from of technology, wholesale, into every classroom and then demanding that every teacher uses it with every pupil.  You may as well say ‘Don;t bother about all of this other stuff, that works just as well or better and that you know.’

Teachers have to spend time to adjust to new systems. 

This is far too top down, rather that bottom up.  Responding to learning needs, rather than to a shiny sales pitch.

Now, before you start, I do have affiliations with many of the big names.  Google. Microsoft. Apple.  But, I advocate what works.  Always have.  There are some tools that these three provide that are absolutely pants when you look beyond the shiny marketing plans; visit schools and scratch beneath the surface and discover that all of that money has been spent on doing exactly the same thing as you’ve always done, just on a shiny consumer good.

So, what would I advocate?  I would say that Ollie Bray’s minimum classroom specification still holds water.  And I totally agree re IWBs.  I would also involve Digital Leaders (both staff and students) in developing grass roots pedagogical development, driven by technology.  I’d speak to staff and ask what they want.  I would add a simple visualiser (around £100, hyperlink for eg as i use them) and then some investment on ‘seed’ devices in certain areas.  I would also advocate using what you have, but better.  PowerPoint and textbooks aren’t evil, however when used by muppets, they can seem so.  Also, do you know what programmes are sitting on machines already? OneNote anyone? 

What I wouldn’t advocate is throwing in a load of machines or devices then expecting miracles to happen.

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