Capacity through intervention strategy

What do we mean by capacity building in Educational Technology. Perhaps right up front, it is advisable to remind people that you are working with that you don’t mean ‘learning computer skills’.

That is often the assumption that people attending workshops make as that has largely their prior experience. PD + Computers = Mastery Challenge.

Capacity should be addressing critical areas such as participatory planning, curriculum, units of work, lesson design, implementation, evaluation, research, information, advocacy, networking and financial planning.

Building capacity in yourself is far easier than attempting to do this at the whole school level. All that knowledge and connectedness that comes with the acquisition of capacity in yourself – is not easily replicated.

Often in our eagerness to see reflections of our own advocacy and practice in others, it is easy to forget just how confusing, frustrating and massive it was to climb out of the 20th Century teaching norms and look towards the horizons of what could be possible.

Flash was easier to learn when it was version 1, Photoshop was far less complicated in version 7, and RSS was far easier to deal with when there was less information flooding in. The capacity of all of us to generate information that we think helps the rest of ‘them’ – means that early adopters are critical to any educational institution to interpret and lead.

To me, it is an ongoing tragedy that these people are often not empowered to ‘lead’ – hence the perpetual question ‘how do we effect sustainable change’ that senior educational leaders orbit. It is hard to plan your future, if your point of reference is the past – specifically, time served is preferable over capacity to lead change.

Friere (1973) Pedagogy of the Oppressed argues

“the process of learning to read and the act of reading are deeply political: our reading of the word is shaped by our reading of the world”

Student’s own experience of technology combined with teacher interventions are mutually reinforcing in building capacity – for change. We simply don’t need to know ‘everything’ anymore. Mastery ICT skills are less important that understanding how technology changes learning.

“We are going to blog” or ”We are using Web2.0 tools in the classroom” and other statements are unlikely to improve learning outcomes for students.

I say unlikely, unless they are seen as interventions essential in strengthening teaching practice. To say you are working to build capacity is

“Meaningless unless you insist on using language and terms that have precise meanings.” (Moore, 1995).

While we are talking about promoting change, the interventions that teachers are doing right now in their solo-classrooms are part of a wider social transformation.

“We are going to blog” – is an output of increased capacity not mastery skills – writing a blog is no harder than writing an email in that regard.

Capacity comes through understanding how using blogs is an intervention within wider social change. In education it directly relevant to renewing pedagogical approaches, developing media literacy skills, reflective learning over passive learning etc.,

In fact web2.0 is part of the digital-soup of Learning Objects within curriculum.

Chiappe defined Learning Objects as:

“A digital self-contained and reusable entity, with a clear educational purpose, with at least three internal and editable components: content, learning activities and elements of context. The learning objects must have an external structure of information to facilitate their identification, storage and retrieval: the metadata. ” (Chiappe, Segovia, & Rincon, 2007).

Any professional development seminar, workshop or in-service – that promotes ‘learning about Web2.0’ – has to address ‘capacity.

It must clearly explain the wide reaching implications that it has to have to become sustainable, and that on their own, Web2.0 applications – such as blogging are unlikely to improve learning outcomes for students.

Once you done that, you are in a much better position to understand which Web2.0 tools could be used in ‘capacity building’. And it may be that you shortlist a relatively short, but considered list.

What are the interventions? What are the learning objects? What are your criteria for capacity building? – The tools are easy in comparison.