The future of education…..

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As Apple’s iPad becomes available to pre-order today, I would like to share some general thoughts about technology and education.  This isn’t directed at Apple technology (as I love their very shiny and useful kit 🙂 and includes most educational technology, such as IWBs and software.

My concern is the conversation that goes ‘ This bit of kit / software will transform education.’  I disagree with this.  Of course, for those that are already proficient in using technology, it will provide another tool, and even provide some activities that transform education.

However, my main concern is that the training needs of staff are often overlooked.  For education to be transformed, staff need to be developed, supported and shown how technology can help to transform learning.

The photograph above lists the key attributes of team work according to some pupils on an outdoor activity weekend last month.  For me, outdoor learning is just as, if not more, powerful in supporting learning. However, I wouldn’t argue that outdoor activity be the only part of the curriculum, just another tool 🙂

Of course, I’m usually the first to grab a new piece of kit / software,but this is often to trial and see how it could be used to support learning.  Often, the key consideration is ‘ Can my whole team use this to transform and support learning?’ If not then what training and support will they need, and is investment in that kit worth it?

This maybe stating the obvious to most.

3 Responses

  1. Very good point Mr Rogers! To quote Shane the Cowboy, a tool is only as good or as bad as the person who uses it. Clearly iPads and digital media devices are tools. And yes, training helps.

    The debate about outdoor learning then, is whether is actually is a tool…

    I tend to simplify OL to learning outside: a place based perception. I reckon all learning is be based upon the people, the place and the activities being strongly interrelated and removing any part of this equation is like cutting off one leg of a 3-legged stool.

    However, saying that being outside has health benefits that go way beyond the learning, bringing added value in a way that being indoors does not match: mostly to do with concentration, stress reduction and levels of physical activity.

    So for me, portable ICT devices are particularly interesting because they offer children a connection with their lives to getting and being outside. Still can't decide whether to buy an iPad, mind!

  2. An interesting little post, David. My thoughts are that you are absolutely right.
    I would add, though, that before the training, trainers, such as myself, need to get across to staff why Transformation needs to take place.
    ICT can support learning; which means that it can help us do what we are already doing but make it easier or more accurate, perhaps.
    ICT can extend or enhance learning. So it may help us do things we couldn't have done before because of constraints of time, speed, skills or lack of access.
    ICT can also transform the way learning is made available to learners. Which means that we can use ICT to do things that weren't possible before; (each pupil using handheld ICT on a field trip is an example of something that may not have been possible only two or three years ago).
    The question remains, though, why do we need the transformation? Transformation involves or at least implies a change; and people are often resistant to change. Until teachers/governors/advisors/pupils can see the needs and benefits of transformation, we cannot expect there to be much transformation.

  3. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I agree that there is a cross over between getting outside and using technology, however, I also think that part of our role is to show young people how to moderate their use of technology, especially in light of some recent research showing that academic achievement declines with overuse of technology.

    Of course, my main point is that neither outdoor learning nor technology is the magic bean of educational reform, but very useful tools in doing so. The key, for me at least, is to develop a workforce that sees the point in Transformation in the first place.

    I'm not sure when I will order that iPad, I'll probably wait to see what some other users think 😉

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