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Deep Impact? October 18, 2010

Posted by IaninSheffield in Management, Musings, research, Teaching Idea.
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Comet McNaught

from chrs_snll on Flickr

At a recent meeting of ICT leaders from our partner schools, my colleagues from our iPod Touch Project gave a short presentation outlining progress in the first couple of weeks.  It seemed to stimulate a fair amount of interest judging by the number of questions which followed.  One colleague asked how we were going to measure the impact of the project and whether any of the apps might help in this respect; he wondered whether performance in some of the maths skill and drill type apps might be monitored for improvement.  A reasonable question, but one to which I suspect we already know the answer, but it got me thinking more seriously about measuring impact and whether crude ‘test-like’ performance indicators were actually what we ought to be using as impact metrics.

A good starting point might be to say what we mean by ‘impact.’ In the major ‘ImpaCT2’ study undertaken in 2002, impact is the result of an intervention intended to achieve an underlying policy goal; in this case clearly focused on the effects on pupil attainment as measured by national tests.  In a similarly wide-ranging study undertaken in Nordic countries, the focus was more on pupil learning and explored pupil performance, the teaching and learning processes and communication and co-operation.  Arguably less quantifiable than ImpaCT2, the Nordic study explored the perceptions of pupils, teachers and parents.  Given the depth and rigour of these (and other) studies, perhaps it is disappointing that the degree of impact is lower than we might hope, given the level of investment in ICT.

At present the evidence on attainment is somewhat inconsistent. And. The literature is very positive about some aspects of ICT use, rarely negative, but mainly incomplete or inconsistent. (Condie & Munro, 2007)

There’s two ways to look at this: either ICT isn’t solely about raising pupil attainment, or maybe we’re looking for impact in the wrong way.

The ICT Impact Report from European SchoolNet cautions us that

… measuring ICT impact on learning outcomes is only one area of potential impact. Much depends much on how ICT is used and so it is important to consider the factors that prepare the ground for improved learning and consequently lead to better learning outcomes. A second  crucial area of ICT impact is  therefore the underlying teaching conditions that promote ICT enhanced learning.

Within the four key objectives in the DfES Harnessing Technology Strategy from 2005 we find ‘sharing ideas,’ ‘providing motivating learning experiences,’ ‘building open and accessible systems’ and ‘providing online resources.’  Maybe these are areas rich for mining examples of impact?  In fact we perhaps need to heed Trucano (2005):

It may be that more useful analyses of the impact of ICT can only emerge when the methods used to measure achievement and outcomes are more closely related to the learning activities and processes promoted by the use of ICTs

So maybe on our list of metrics ought to be:

  • Motivation and engagement (though this has been covered in other studies like Passey et al, 2004)
  • Presenting and representing information in different ways (perhaps involving multimedia)
  • Classroom talk and pupil interaction & collaboration
  • Personalisation of learning, targeted to the needs of each learner
  • Facilitation and enabling of creativity
  • Involvement, inclusion and engagement of parents in the learning process
  • Level of access to ICT (anywhere/anywhen)

Though we need to keep in mind the cautionary note that

ICTs are used most by teachers to fit with traditional pedagogies, but the greatest impact is with teachers who are already experienced edtech integrators.

It’s perhaps a wise move if we return to the original premise on which our project came into being.  It was intended to be a proof of concept; an exploratory study seeking to surface the issues with mobile devices (technical, pedagogical, behavioural, safety, security) in school so that we are better placed to plan our next steps forward.

How do you think we ought to measure impact?

Condie, R. et al., 2007. The impact of ICT in schools: a landscape review, Becta.

DCSF, Harnessing Technology: Transforming Learning and Children’s Services. Available at: http://publications.education.gov.uk/default.aspx?PageFunction=productdetails&PageMode=publications&ProductId=DFES-1296-2005 [Accessed October 17, 2010].

Harrison, C., 2002. ImpaCT2 The Impact of information and communication technologies on pupil learning and attainment. Available at: http://research.becta.org.uk/index.php?section=rh&rid=13606 [Accessed October 15, 2010].

Passey, D et al., 2004. The Motivational Effect of ICT on Pupils, DfES Research Report RR523. Available at http://www.education.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/rr523new.pdf [Accessed October 18, 2010]

Pedersen, S. et al., 2006. E-Learning Nordic 2006: Impact of ICT on Education, Ramboll Management. Available at: http://www.oph.fi/download/47637_eLearning_Nordic_English.pdf [Accessed October 15, 2010].

Trucano, M., 2005. Knowledge Maps: ICTs in Education-What Do We Know about the Effective Uses of Information and Communication Technologies in Education in Developing Countries?. Online Submission, p.77.

Do we reeeeally need all that stuff? February 27, 2010

Posted by IaninSheffield in Inspiration, Management, Resources, Tools.
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In a given school year, how much ‘stuff’ does a student need to support their learning?  I’m thinking about books (both for writing and reading), equipment they find in their pencil cases, resources used in lessons (equipment used in Science, Music, Art, Geography etc etc), AV equipment and so on.

Well here’s a list, which I certainly wouldn’t claim to be exhaustive, together with some notional costs, taking into account that they wouldn’t necessarily need sole acess to all the items:

Table of costs

Grand total – about £300 . . . or twice the cost of an iPod Touch!

iPod Touch

iPod touch by Mike Rohde, on Flickr

Each of the items listed in the above table could be replaced by the device itself, or an App, a free App at that.  Now I couldn’t claim my knowledge of Apps is that extensive, so I’m sure you could think of other things which could be replaced (perhaps you might make any suggestions in a comment to this post).  We might also be able to find App alternatives for some of the full applications running on the PC?  And let’s not forget all the other free ebooks that an eReader App would provide access to.  It might even be worth . . . dare I say it? . . . buying a few Apps if needed.

So even if we took the computer out of the above list, the Touch would pay for itself in the first year.  Surely that’s a ‘no-brainer’ then?

Post Post:  Wouldn’t normally update a post, but become aware of another couple of apps which could replace physical devices and just had to include them.  There are a few apps which allow you to use the Touch as a remote input device (mouse, keyboard) or better yet, gyromouse or slate – these devices retail at approaching £100, so that’s quite a saving.  The real corker though is an app (iResponse) which turns theTouch into a response device (‘clicker’) . . . which means another £30 saved.  In other words, replacing the items in the list now buys us 3x Touchs!

CPD – thinking out of the box . . . and onto the bus January 11, 2010

Posted by IaninSheffield in CPD, Inspiration.
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Running home from work has been a whole lot easier since I got the iPod Touch.  How so you ask?  Well I’ll tell you.

Sheffield Bus

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by harry_nl: http://flickr.com/photos/harry_nl/2316606207/

On days when I want to run home, I go to work on the bus, catch it part way home and run the last stretch.  The journey in is about an hour; on the way home a bit less.  To pass the time, I  used to carry a book . . . until I got the Touch.  Now I carry that and save a few hundred grams in my backpack.  But actually I get a lot more because I can choose my reading matter from a variety of ebooks.  Or I can pick from a selection of research articles.  Alternately I can read up on some of the blog posts I synched onto the Touch from ‘Read IT Later.’   Then again I can choose to listen to a podcast or two – the EDUTalk 365 project from David Noble and John Johnston is providing some really informative podcasts at the moment.  There’s more though – I can watch vodcasts . . . which is what I chose to do this morning.  So on a bus travelling towards Sheffield, I was watching and listening to Drew Buddie‘s excellent presentation ‘Whither eportfolios‘ which he presented to the K12 Online conference, convened in the United States, back in December, from his home north of London.

Now I think that’s impressive.  That from a device that’s 10x6x0.5cm weighing a few grams, and whilst travelling on a bus in South Yorkshire, I can watch a half hour presentation created a month ago in Hertfordshire and delivered at an online conference in the US.  WOW!  iPod Touch = CPD Nexus?

Yet I still hear colleagues saying that there just aren’t the opportunities for professional development.  That they can’t get out of school to attend them and that they don’t have the time anyway.  I’d contend that there’s plenty out there . . . what’s more you don’t have to go to it, you can bring it to you, at a time and place that suits.  What more could you ask?

(And with the DigitalMaverick‘s help, I learned heaps about eportfolios – thanks Drew)