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General Chat Thread, An EduGeek 'Free' School - What would you do? in General; Originally Posted by bossman Why not have free lessons for the students let them decide what they want to do ...
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    Quote Originally Posted by bossman View Post
    Why not have free lessons for the students let them decide what they want to do with the computers or digital devices?
    Let them learn from the internet which is what they do now?

    Students will find their own level and work collaboratively towards a central goal and will devise ways and means to learn what they want and to find the research materials they need.

    Why do we need to have a curriculum which teaches the students skills which in 5 years time are irrelevant!

    Students need to feel they are in charge of their teaching and learning and only guidance should be proffered towards their end goal like directions on a map.

    As has already been stated on here lifeskills are what the students need.
    I envy your optimism. Lifeskills are important but you really do need to be able to read, write, count and the rest. If the kids at our school were left to decide what they wanted to do with computers 99% would choose to play games (which is what 50% of them probably already do). I'm not disputing that games CAN be educational but most are not - education is rarely their main purpose, entertainment is. Confusing learning with entertainment is a mistake IMHO.

    I'm all for letting students find their own level but, in the real world, because of the pressures on kids to conform, everyone is often dragged down to the lowest possible level. You need to teach students structure & self-discipline first - once they've got that then you can talk about letting them find their own way. However you've still got to be there to guide them when they get off the path.

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    Quote Originally Posted by timzim View Post
    I'm all for letting students find their own level but, in the real world, because of the pressures on kids to conform, everyone is often dragged down to the lowest possible level. You need to teach students structure & self-discipline first - once they've got that then you can talk about letting them find their own way. However you've still got to be there to guide them when they get off the path.
    Structure and letting them find their own way aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. A good balance between the two is needed.

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    How about just building one or two free periods per week for private study in the time table where students have free roam of the library, computer rooms, other common areas to complete areas of study that interest them? Possibly making at year long project with a presentation requirement at the end to ensure they actually do some work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesb View Post
    Structure and letting them find their own way aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. A good balance between the two is needed.
    I never said that they are mutually exclusive: I'm arguing that without the former the latter is not an effective educational method.

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    Learners need focus ... it doesn't make much difference whether they are primary or secondary stage or adults. Sometimes this focus can be generated by themselves, but often it has to be imposed on them.

    The focus can be attaining a particular level of competency and this is measured by testing (more often than not) either as an end of unit / term / year / course exam or some sort of continual assessment.

    As much as we need to ensure that skills and concepts are learnt, and we also need to help them become adaptable so that they can pick up new skills as and when needed.

    Then we hit the difficult balancing act of 'just in time' vs 'just in case' learning. As much as we say that information is at the fingertips of learners, they also have to learn that knowledge needs to be gained. A surgeon doesn't look at a screen as he is cutting into a patient ... he knows where the body parts are. An archeologist might make use of reference books, but the specialist knowledge is often essential in the field. A sniper does not refer to wind tables to judge how far to aim off ...

    There is a place for both and a good curriculum caters for this. The reason why most learners need a teacher to hand (or instructor) is to make sure they are looking at the right things to get to the end target. I'm not saying it can't happen ... it is just that it takes a heck of a lot of work on all sides to do things in other ways ... and often for very little difference too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesb View Post
    can you touch-type?
    No, and I've never found I've needed to be able to. Touch typing might indeed be a useful skill, too (although I figure if you're going to learn touch-typing you might as well go all out and learn how to use a chord keyboard), but I don't think it's neccesarily a skill that needs to be included in the Key Stage 3, GCSE or A-Level curriculum, mainly because trying to include skills-based tests in academic subjects doesn't do them justice. There's no reason schools / colleges shouldn't teach touch-typing, but do it properly and do a vocational certificate course that gives the pupil a certificate they can take away with them afterwards. Same for MS Office applications - do a proper vocational certificate, don't try and shoe-horn vocational learning skills into a GCSE. And neither of these vocational course's requirements should dictate the ICT policy for the whole school - whole school ICT should be there to assist the learner and fade unobtrusivly into the background, you can keep a couple of ICT suites for running vocational certificate courses. You'd still use tablet PCs, though, just sit them in keyboarded docking stations and have them RDP to virtual desktops.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    You'd still use tablet PCs, though, just sit them in keyboarded docking stations and have them RDP to virtual desktops.

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    Now I for one find that a very interesting idea!

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    i would sit them all for the A+ by year nine or abouts, have play rooms full of stuff that the students can play with so destops, ram hd's ect.... and i would go for a more university approach to learning, obv in the first year you'ld have to teach the student skills like how to google correctly, word process, print and e-mail. then rather than teach fact based subject, get them to resheach them. the flaw in my design is that some 11-15 year olds arn't capable of this and as a youth worker i do believe that my idea would be great fun, but alot of skills would be missing from their lives.

    did i mention alot of pool tables and tea making stations?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mjs_mjs View Post
    and i would go for a more university approach to learning, obv in the first year you'ld have to teach the student skills like how to google correctly, word process, print and e-mail.
    I think there is a lot of milage to be had here. I actually find if very difficult to knuckle down and study, something that didn't exactly put me in good sted at university. I put some of the blame on the high school education system that, from what I can remember, never actually taught you how to study. As I recall, and you correctly say, it's a lot of 'fact based learning', which while does have it's place - it doesn't exactly put you in good sted for later life unless you want to speciailise in pub quizes

    I'd like to see more focus on skills based learning and coursework and less cramming facts for exams.

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    Our educational system is geared for exam based skill testing and obviously those students with a good memory fair better as tmcd35 has already summerised in previous posts.

    Some schools have moved their teaching and learning towards assignment based qualifications but looking at some of these it seems they are more geared to the lower achievers than to high aspirational students.

    Schools seem to be more focused on academia than extolling lifeskills which will benefit the student in later life.

    I feel education needs to move forward to empower the student and give them the directions and the skills with which to learn "How to learn" we can no longer strap students into classrooms and spout facts at them, they will, just as they do "Turn off" and not learn anything. I feel what schools or online learning requires is a new "modus operandi" as our teaching methods especially within the subject of IT.

    It becomes more clearer when you watch the lessons as they are being taught, the students become bored and switch off in 85% of all lessons and in some the students know more about the subject than the teachers.

    As has been stated by more than one person on here it is the specialisation of certain subjects that students need to aspire to.

    Our teachers are becoming more and more complacent as the students get more and more adept at teaching themselves.

    I do agree that basic reading and writing and arithmetic are necessary but not in the over focused way they are taught as students that are taught how to learn rather than learn facts and figures will extol and teach themselves in the long run.

    Common sense approach is needed rather than the drilling facts into them.

  11. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    No, and I've never found I've needed to be able to.
    Well if you can't do it, then obviously you'd never find a need to.

    Touch typing might indeed be a useful skill, too (although I figure if you're going to learn touch-typing you might as well go all out and learn how to use a chord keyboard), but I don't think it's neccesarily a skill that needs to be included in the Key Stage 3, GCSE or A-Level curriculum, mainly because trying to include skills-based tests in academic subjects doesn't do them justice. There's no reason schools / colleges shouldn't teach touch-typing, but do it properly and do a vocational certificate course that gives the pupil a certificate they can take away with them afterwards.
    Because it is much, much easier to learn how to touch-type while younger than it is while older. It is also a really, really useful skill. Would you expect kids to handwrite their homework and written work? If not, why expect them to type it by hunt and peck, or looking constantly at the keyboard? I cannot really explain how useful it has been for me to be able to do this without sounding like I'm boasting, but believe me, I'd place it as being essential.

    I've also noticed that it is only people who cannot touch-type who tend to disparage it's value.

    Same for MS Office applications - do a proper vocational certificate, don't try and shoe-horn vocational learning skills into a GCSE. And neither of these vocational course's requirements should dictate the ICT policy for the whole school - whole school ICT should be there to assist the learner and fade unobtrusivly into the background, you can keep a couple of ICT suites for running vocational certificate courses. You'd still use tablet PCs, though, just sit them in keyboarded docking stations and have them RDP to virtual desktops.
    I'd agree on the MS Office applications being vocational, but these days I just can't see why you'd consider touch-typing to be specific to a particular career. If you can point out to me a career which school should be preparing children for, which wouldn't benefit from much faster typing speeds, the ability to read and type or talk and type or look at the screen to error check your text while typing and so forth, then I'll gladly concede the point.

    I still don't like the idea of tablet PCs without keyboards - there's a reason that the keyboard has been around as long as it has, and it's an incredibly powerful tool if you know how to use it properly. Of course, if you have to stare at the keyboard to type anyway then I suppose there's no problem with tablets.

    Also - how're you planning to deal with any visually impaired children in such an environment, or would the school just not be suitable for them?

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    I think what is needed is a major rethink about what ICT courses are, at present ICT is a very basic introduction to how to use a computer. Often hampered by the ammount of time allocated to it because it is seen as easy. what most of the members on this board belive to be ICT is in fact covered by the computing qualifications, the reasons we tend not to teach these are quite simple:

    1) the majority of teachers currently employed to teach ICT do not have the subject knowledge required to deliver these courses as they have moved into teaching ICT from other subjects (it tends to be business studies, but also know of a maths teacher and a music teacher that have moved into ICT), the reasons for this are quite simple ICT degrees have not existed long enough for people top have completed them and moved into teaching, the average age of a teacher in the UK is somewhere in the 40s-50s.

    2)in an average secondary school the subject matter is totally irrelevant for most users of technology, does a receptionist need to know the fetch-decode-execute cycle. does a student that intends to be a builder, who may find basic word processing and spredsheets useful, need to understand the OSI model. if we are honest probably not. although not called so any more we operate comprehensive schools and provide education for all, whilst it might be possible to provide Computing as a option subject it is not really suitable for offering to all students.

    the final option is to look at the BTEC specification where ther is a lot more scope to deliver hands on technical based qualifications, and as CCNA and CompTia qualifications can be counted as part of these this may well fit the vision of what an EduGeek Free school should deliver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by deanc View Post
    I think what is needed is a major rethink about what ICT courses are, at present ICT is a very basic introduction to how to use a computer.
    My beef is they are often times not even that. Maybe I'm being a little unkind to my teaching colleagues but my impression is that the current subject can be summed up as "here's how you insert pretty pictures into word/powerpoint/etc".

    1) the majority of teachers currently employed to teach ICT do not have the subject knowledge required to deliver these courses as they have moved into teaching ICT from other subjects (it tends to be business studies, but also know of a maths teacher and a music teacher that have moved into ICT), the reasons for this are quite simple ICT degrees have not existed long enough for people top have completed them and moved into teaching, the average age of a teacher in the UK is somewhere in the 40s-50s.
    A very important point but what are the powers that be doing to redress this situation? I'm in my 30's and have a third class hons in Applied Computing. Where can I go to get a PGCE and teach my beloved subject?

    2)in an average secondary school the subject matter is totally irrelevant for most users of technology, does a receptionist need to know the fetch-decode-execute cycle. does a student that intends to be a builder, who may find basic word processing and spredsheets useful, need to understand the OSI model. if we are honest probably not.
    While I'd agree that the OSI Model and the Fetch-Execute cycle are too far, basic WP and Spreedsheets don't nearly go far enough. Remember that IT is all pervasive in this day and age. We are expected to buy a home computer, but an ISP package and connect two together in order to function properly in our modern society. So why are we sending newly formed adults out into the world with out them knowing the basics of installing an OS/software, simple networking and file sharing, etc?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesb View Post
    Because it is much, much easier to learn how to touch-type while younger than it is while older. It is also a really, really useful skill.
    Okay, so touch typing is important, our Free School will let children do a certificate course in it (is a couple of hours a week over half a term enough to learn properly, or would they need longer?). This implies you'll need at least one location (a dedicated classroom, or maybe a library or similar drop-in style point) with fixed keyboards and mice (which would also come in handy for an MS Office certficate course). I'd still avoid messing around wiring fixed network points around the place, just get a decent managed wireless system. The tablet PC is going to need a docking station of some kind, probably something that charges it and lets it use a DVD drive as well as a keyboard.

    I still don't like the idea of tablet PCs without keyboards
    The idea is that such a tablet PC is small, cheap and robust enough that everyone in the school can have one. Loosing the keyboard means no hinged keyboard to fold out and no keys to get damaged. Using something with a keyboard attached implies sitting-down-and-using-a-computer, a tablet can be used more like a book.

    how're you planning to deal with any visually impaired children in such an environment
    Good point. I'm guessing text-to-speech facilities on the tablet would be useful, as would speech-recognition. On a tablet, partially sighted pupils could increase the size of the on-screen keyboard. Otherwise, USB single-handed chord keyboards with proper training for those who ned to use them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Okay, so touch typing is important, our Free School will let children do a certificate course in it (is a couple of hours a week over half a term enough to learn properly, or would they need longer?). This implies you'll need at least one location (a dedicated classroom, or maybe a library or similar drop-in style point) with fixed keyboards and mice (which would also come in handy for an MS Office certficate course). I'd still avoid messing around wiring fixed network points around the place, just get a decent managed wireless system. The tablet PC is going to need a docking station of some kind, probably something that charges it and lets it use a DVD drive as well as a keyboard.
    Why do a certificate course in it? It doesn't need to be a qualification, just a skill which needs to be taught. I also don't see the need for a dedicated classroom when tablets with an actual keyboard would be much more effective, and generally faster to use.

    Just to give a comparison - the best hunt and peck typists can usually get up to about 37 wpm, for memorized text, and maybe 60 wpm for short bursts. An average professional typist has an average speed of about 50-70 wpm, whether the text is memorized or not (since they can read as they type). A good typist, one who has put effort into learning, can generally reach around 80-95 wpm, and with a bit of practice can hit around 120 wpm without difficulty.

    So, typing a quick e-mail for me is around four or five times as fast as for a hunt and peck typist. It all adds up and saves a lot more time than you might expect. The same applies to any sort of writing. 120 wpm is nearly as fast as speech, and an advanced touch-typist can come close to dictation speeds.

    The idea is that such a tablet PC is small, cheap and robust enough that everyone in the school can have one. Loosing the keyboard means no hinged keyboard to fold out and no keys to get damaged. Using something with a keyboard attached implies sitting-down-and-using-a-computer, a tablet can be used more like a book.
    But it also kills your typing speed completely. Not only that, but anyone who can touchtype can generally type much faster in general, and type one-handed with a tablet perched on their arm faster than a hunt and peck typist, so long as the keyboard is within peripheral vision, just not as fast as they can on a physical keyboard.

    Good point. I'm guessing text-to-speech facilities on the tablet would be useful, as would speech-recognition. On a tablet, partially sighted pupils could increase the size of the on-screen keyboard. Otherwise, USB single-handed chord keyboards with proper training for those who ned to use them.
    In a classroom how's speech-to-text going to help? Even if you can get the computer to work at the average speaking rate of 150 wpm, you'll have a whole classroom of noise. Text-to-speech is handy, but again you've then either got kids wearing headphones and struggling to hear the teacher, or a lot of noise.

    I can see that you don't view touch-typing as a useful skill, and understand it. I'd probably agree that being able to touch-type isn't an essential skill - but neither are many of the other useful skills which kids should be taught. Familiarity with and understanding command-line environments also isn't essential in IT - but your life will be a lot easier if you have the knowledge required than if you don't.

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