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Rory Cellan-Jones has a new post on his blog
Are we building schools for the future?
Might have to drop him a line and point him in the directon of the BSF forum.
Last edited by Dos_Box; 3rd March 2010 at 11:02 AM.
His article highlights the biggest complaint about technology pushing in education. Those implementing it are thinking 'ooh shiney!' rather than 'we have this educational need, what will solve it?'.
An example - the idea of a swipecard registration system. From the offset I would have said it was a waste of time, effort and money. Taking a register takes a teacher a matter of a minute or 2 each lesson - they want to do this, so they can keep track of things themselves, and keep track of their own marks in lesson etc... A swipe system removes the connection between the teacher and the student. It also takes longer. A class of 30 people all having to swipe their cards as they walk into a room will inevitably take longer - as cards are put in the wrong way round, don't scan right etc... Its a fix to a problem that doesn't exist.
The problem is systemic - the entire process is being lead by people who aren't actually going to be using the schools, so are designing systems around what they think will be good rather than what teachers need.
This is actually a pretty decent article from someone who I normally consider a total hack. I almost got to the end of the article without taking exception. Almost.
But I met plenty of teachers who were not convinced that an interactive board costing several thousand pounds was essential, especially in an education system where a teacher standing at the front lecturing silent rows of rapt children is now seen as old hat.
- The only interactive whiteboards I know of that cost "several thousand pounds" are ones with the projector built in. I doubt those teachers would go without a projector too, so he's either being disingenuous by including that cost, or just doesn't have his facts straight.
- The whole point of an IWB is that it's interactive (for both teacher and pupil), and so NOT "standing at the front lecturing silent rows"
He may be right that an IWB isn't essential, but as is typical of Rory's work, he undermines his own point with poor fact-checking and shoddy reasoning.
An interesting article but misses the point in places and perhaps misses larger issues. Unless I misread/heard something (entirely likely) it's focusing on a BSF implimentation and using that to question ICT in schools in general.
He questions the all singing all dancing £1.5m initial IT investment without questioning the processes that lead to that mis-investment. For this BSF itself isn't wrong, but the process of not involving end users and IT professionals at an early enough stage is wrong and leads to this kind of waste of money.
He mentions the support contract and it's restrictions, which is a key complaint of the BSF process, but doesn't compare that to how IT is run in non BSF state schools. I think this is a key comparision when questioning the outsourcing of IT.
It's easy to think that the technology malinvestment starts with BSF, but it doesn't, it goes way back.
It's probably more recently that with trying to be really daring cockups have been made which have a real day to day impact because the use of the equipment relies on the infrastructure implemented
ie flooding a school with WiFi and netbooks or thin client projects where the idea raced ahead of what the end user experience demanded and what the technologies limitations were.
It was pretty rapid i think, the govt. making available a LOT of money to spend on kit destined to go into schools and other educational establishments.... This would have started at the turn of the century or just before i think....and hasn't really let up. Although it may not seem like that to those who've got 10k IT budgets for this year. Money has been spent on IT in a big way, it's just a question of whether it could have been directed better.
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