ICT – Habit of the decade

How can we tell if what is happening in the ICT ‘computer’ room is adding value to learning? Perhaps what is going on is actually so un-demanding, un-creative and un-inspiring that students are spending their time doing an computer based activity, rather than using the computer to communicate what they have learned, what they are learning, and what they need to learn. Is the ICT activity too boring, or too frustrating.

It is quite possible that our use of ICT ‘computer rooms’ meets the needs of the ‘scope and sequence’ and that we can justify that we are meeting the ‘outcomes’ or standards, but at the same time making these activities entirely passive and one-dimensional.

One characteristic of this is that the end product that is handed in to be ‘marked’ looks amazingly similar to the next one or that the task is actually the same as searching for information in a text book then completing the exercise at the end of the chapter.

The hour spent in front of the computer rarely allows any individual exploration of earlier classroom experiences in a way chosen by the student. Students are given a task to perform, which begins and ends with the sound of the bell, each student doing the same thing – as that suits the rubric and grading. We don’t seek new ways to do this either – we stick to what we know.

This is the tragedy of a decade plus habit of using computers to search, retrieve and paste information.

It is based on the idea of select, apply and justify – in the classical notion of Blooms taxonomy. This manifests as a linear activity, and not a cyclic one. It is not until they get to the end that they learn that they didn’t include something, do something etc.,

In comparison to the number of teachers, the number of teachers who are preparing ‘digital resources’ are still alarmingly small. The number who are ‘sharing’ them online with their is even smaller. Unless a student can revisit the classroom lecture later, then chances are much of the ‘content’ in the power point is forgotten over time. It’s not hard to share a power point, but it is hard if you can’t realise the benefit to students. Its not a ‘teacher resource’ – it only has a value when it becomes a ‘student resource’.

Joe Dale’s work in podcasting with languages is an excellent example of using EdTech to take learning beyond the bell and present content way beyond the requirements of the ‘program’.

But by an large the student experience is not like this, but a passive, repetitive, un-challenging one. It has virtually no relation to how they could use technology to demonstrate their learning. It favours a narrow band of learning preferences and excludes others – simply because the ‘scope’ is limited by the teacher’s ability or willingness ‘shift’ the pedagogy.

There is no imperative to do this of course, unless as a teacher you see the benefits to students and are willing to re-think a decade old habit and thats what this presentation is about – taking a look at what ICT looks like in your classroom.