A number of recent conversations with both educational leaders and educational technology providers (I’ve been both in my time) came into sharp focus today when a member of a leading professional association for teachers in the UK (National Association of Head Teachers) announced that a considerable proportion of the funds spent on ICT in its various forms in UK schools has been wasted.
On the basis of my experience, I’d have to agree.
So where does the blame for this lie?
On the supplier side, there is too much commitment to features – more buttons to press, more functions to perform, which leads to a mismatch between the usefulness of the application or software and the gradient of the slope of time and commitment to master its operation in a classroom environment. To little thought is given to implementation as the big effort is in the initial sale, rather than the long-term retention of customers.
Another major issue is that training is usually delivered as a technical rather than a learning exercise. A techie explains what the buttons do, but does not make the link between the technology and better learning outcomes, or integration into current teaching regimes.
On the educational professional side I would say that too much investment by senior leadership teams has been in kit and software which has been bought on the basis of features rather than benefits. Furthermore, money has been committed without any understanding of the transformative potential of ICT in learning. This is because the purchase of the kit is seen as an end in itself. Little thought is given to how the tangible benefit of using the kit can impact on the bottom line of better learning outcomes for students.
In addition the traditional subject department base of most secondary schools means that commitment to teaching one’s subject trumps a wider commitment to improving the learning outcomes for all students. In such a cultural environment it is more difficult to have a radical conversation about learning improvement strategies. The inevitable result is that the technology fails to embed, except in the classrooms of those who have an affinity or an interest in the technology more generally.
To enhance the impact of ICT we need to ensure that it is incorporated in a school which has been culturally prepared for it, which has a clear implementation strategy, and which sets SMART targets for use of the technology to impact on learning standards which integrate with the school performance management cycle. In this way, “within a set timeframe, all staff will be able to use this technology to this quality assured level of competence.”
It was to progress implementation strategies that I developed The Learning Vortex approach to whole school learning development.
This infographic goes some way to outlining some issues regarding implementing technology into the mindset of teachers…
Read more about the Pencil Metaphor and the history of this infographic at TeachThought: The Pencil Metaphor: How Teachers Respond To Education Technology