Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Technology Lottery

The missing lottery ticket worth £33 million really caught my imagination. 

I don’t often buy a ticket, maybe once a year or so, and I don’t live in Worcester, so I know it’s not me. Every time I do buy one though, I photograph it with my phone, so if I lose it or accidentally put it in the washing machine, I’ve got a record of the thing.  It’s quick, simple and cheap; words beloved by Government and Financial Directors.

I’m pretty sure that this anal capturing of data is due to two things; my long career in FE (always have the evidence) and the availability of reliable technology. 

I’ve always encouraged students to photograph each other’s good work to provide them with a visual revision record and often, just photographing a screen is quicker than send to printer, then running around a building looking for the printer. 

I once worked in a college where one campus was 21 miles from the other. Driving there to get my printing because the system wasn’t properly configured was pointless.

#FELTAG has put forward many fine ideas for using Technology in Education and the government’s recent decision not to fund online learning at a lower rate should be acknowledged as a nod to understanding that online learning matters. To ‘learn online’ though requires tech, infrastructure and availability.

Tom Starkey @tstarkey1212 recently tweeted that his business cards were not printed in time for an event, and asked for help. Tom is a smart man, giving advice on using technology in education but even he needed to collaborate on technology so he could move over to using an App to electronically produce and send his business cards. 

This is the dichotomy for me; smart, technologically aware education experts and teachers that fully appreciate the value of using tech in teaching and learning don’t always think laterally and apply it to their own lives. That's why we need so much more collaborative practice.

Embedding tech into our lives, to make them easier, surely has to be the basis of our experience for embedding it into teaching and learning? That is why we need to share and keep sharing ideas, so we can learn.

If we don’t do it, how can we teach it?

Clearly more is needed than knowledge of technology and how it can be applied. There has to be an identified need and an identified solution but whilst the identification can be as simple as spotting something on a tweet, the matching process is nowhere near instant with a full teaching load and lack of equipment.

Teaching staff need time to explore the use of tech, it cannot be ‘applied’ to a lesson in a top down fashion, as you would select extra Hoisin Sauce to go with your Crispy Duck.

Students who take a test online, ticking a box to select an answer are not using technology for learning. There is no difference in ticking a box with a mouse to ticking a box with a pencil and if that is how tech is to be applied, then we are fooling ourselves and cheating the students.

Developing tech for effective learning requires patience, a supportive atmosphere and collaboration. All of which is expensive and not generally funded. Those who excel at tech such as Scott @bcotmedia do so because they have a natural talent and invest every moment of their time into the projects with unparalleled enthusiasm. We could all invest the time, but sadly few of us have his natural talent.

But given the right environment, access and support, we can learn.

One of the most popular #ukfechat topics recently was the hugely successful and much appreciated Using Digital Tools  by @ChrisLKirk which clearly demonstrated the need for more collaborative effort in using technology in TLA. People want to know how, what to use, new ideas and applications, to learn from each other and build on existing expertise and experience.

Teachers/Lecturers don’t want to see Pink computers for girls and Blue ones for boys, they don’t want to see students sat at terminals, bored and lifeless whilst they tick boxes on a test, they don’t want to have quotas imposed on their teaching to mention IT or Technology X times a lesson in order to hit an ambiguous target.

Teaching staff it would seem want the fundamental basics to be available so they can develop their skills and knowledge.
The opportunity to experiment with technology, to hear the learner views on our efforts and their impact, to share our results and experiences, without fear of repercussion.

They would like to have access to more than one trolley of laptops which in a one hour lesson takes 40 minutes to log onto the system and are only available on alternate months with an X in the name, provided you book them the day you start your job.

Teachers would like to have rooms that have internet access, rooms where mobile phone signals work so they can use Socrative.

They would like a computer system that isn’t based on Windows 2000

They would like a firewall that doesn’t stop Sports lecturers from accessing Middlesex Cricket Ground

They would like to have access to technology in the same way that management teams have iPads for their data management needs and feel that they have parity when it comes to the distribution and funding of technology.

They would like investment, not on paper but practically in time, support and equipment. 

Even now, there are colleges that have large areas with no computer access at all in classrooms.   

They would like to see technological opportunities for Teaching, Learning and Assessment that isn't a Lottery.

Too much technological investment has been into the ‘chalk and talk’ model, with the teacher at the front, one computer and an IWB, at the front. Teaching and learning has moved on but the technology still has a ‘buffer face’.

Technology that is simple, effective and useful should be as available as Oxygen; using it should be osmotic not just ‘embedded’'. Until these fundamental issues are addressed, Teaching Learning and Assessment that benefits from the use of technology, to enhance the TLA,  will be a long time coming.

No comments:

Post a Comment