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As well as the quality, feel the WIDTH … August 21, 2011

Posted by IaninSheffield in Inspiration, Musings.
Tags: , , , , ,

For some while now I’ve felt that the ICT many students in school are exposed to, struggles to represent the ICT those students experience in their everyday lives, nor that with which they might need to become comfortable and facile as they move into higher education, work or adulthood. In school they seem to learn about and with the usual industry-standard applications, yet occupy a

Width warning

from ell brown on Flickr

world where Internet connectivity and mobile devices provide access to untold riches across a range of applications to support their work, learning and play. But our schemes of work (and the specifications which drive them?) seem to limit and restrict, rather than liberate. Given the formal nature of our assessment systems and the need to obtain nationally recognised qualifications, perhaps that’s hardly surprising.

I’ve been mulling over for some while now the means by which we might extend the range of ICT opportunities we provide for our learners. To offer chances beyond the formal system … which by its very nature struggles to respond to the rapidly developing environment that is ICT. But how?
There were certain factors which I felt were important to incorporate:

  • Participation by students should be voluntary.
  • It should work alongside and with our current ICT provision, yet not impact on the workload of the colleagues teaching it. Consequently this would likely need to be some form of supported self-study (with some element of self-evaluation?).
  • The areas covered should explore new tools and the new affordances they bring.
  • The architecture should be extensible in the sense that new ‘modules’ can be added as needed to further extend and enhance provision.
  • Tasks undertaken should link with other areas of the students’ studies, providing authentic opportunities to develop skills.
  • There may be lessons to learn from the principles of gaming, both in providing motivation to participate, degree of challenge and monitoring and rewarding progress.
  • The facility to develop communities of practice should be an integral aspect, so that students support (and assess?) each other.

Now let’s consider Jenny, a Y9 (14 yr old) student who has been set a homework task by a teacher. The class have been working on a group activity over the past few lessons and the teacher wants them to summarise and present their findings … they’re often asked to do this in different subjects. Sometimes they get a choice of which medium they use, digital or not and sometimes they’re told to do it in a certain way. Jenny can produce a PowerPoint presentation standing on her head; she’s been developing her skills since Y5. So have the rest of her group. But they always struggle when it come to dividing the labour; should they all work on different slides then bring them together. Or should they take different roles, someone collecting imagery, someone else writing the text and someone else editing it all together? What’s more, they’ve not yet mastered the techniques which the PP platform offers for team working and collaboration (well, that’s not in any of the schemes of work so they wouldn’t have). Perhaps there’s an alternative technology which might set their presentation apart from the others, or one which offers greater potential for collaboration, synchronous or otherwise.

It’s to provide support for this kind of situation that I want to work on. Provide an environment from which students can extend their learning of ICT skills beyond that which they normally encounter. Somewhere they might go to address a shortcoming they might have or even just out of interest and curiosity … or even maybe just for fun!

Lots of thinking still to do so any thoughts you have, do please drop them in the comments. Am I just being fanciful?


1. Doug Belshaw (@dajbelshaw) - August 22, 2011

Thanks for getting the ball rolling, Ian! So you think that Open Badges are a good way to personalise learning? 🙂

ianinsheffield - August 23, 2011

I think they definitely offer one means by which individuals can choose their own areas for development … and be rewarded or recognised in those endeavours.

More to come as my thoughts flesh out. 😉

2. whatedsaid - August 23, 2011

Hi Ian

Your approach is always so considered and well thought out. At my school, the ICT facilitator @lindawollan and I are making things up as we go along!! For instance:
We’re an inquiry school and the kids used to present their inquiry findings in (badly structured) PowerPoints. So she taught them how to improve the quality of their slides.
At a later date, we began introducing kids (and teachers) to other options for presentation via a range of web 2.0 tools like Prezi, Voicehtread, Blabberize, Photopeach, Capzles and ToonDoo… one at a time.
In its latest version, the learning experience has evolved into something much more authentic and engaging. We have run 2 sessions, one for Year 5, one for Year 6 (approximately 100 kids in each) where we showed a range of presentations using different tools (CogDog’s 50 ways is brilliant for this. http://cogdogroo.wikispaces.com/Dominoe+50+Ways).
Then the kids went off in pairs with a laptop to explore and experiment whichever of the tools appealed to them and figure out for themselves how to use them. Inquiry at its best!
Some teachers had the kids evaluate the tools they chose to use for presenting their next inquiry projects.Kids are now embedding their presentations on their class blogs, also a new, developing phenomenon for our school
Seems like we’ve incorporated most of your suggested factors…

ianinsheffield - August 23, 2011

If that’s ‘making it up as you go along,’ then we need more of it I’d say Edna! Recognise an issue, devise a strategy to address it, implement it, reflect on the outcomes and adjust accordingly. Nigh on perfect I’d say. But then I would expect that 😉

Oh and thanks for the CogDog link. I’m familiar with a fair bit of his work, but that one slipped by me. More new things 🙂

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