Priming the Educational Pump


BEFORE anyone is going to consider using alternative technologies in learning and teaching, teacher-trainers have to ‘prime the pump’. Nothing sustainable is going to flow out from the raging torrent of internet possibilities into the classroom unless the teacher decides that it’s worth pressing the start button.

There are then some considerations that I’ve begun to build into professional learning plans.

  • Teachers are unsure about the ferocity, force and form of ‘new’ media that is apparently building up tsunami like pressure!
  • Opening up the classroom through new technology may flood the classroom with more problems that it set out to solve!
  • There seems no obvious lever to control the valve of information, it seems to be more off and on, than controlled!
  • The are no instructions on the pump, so safe operation appears unlikely!
  • There is no service number to call if it doesn’t work as you expected!
  • It seems like you have to press the button every 108 minutes to prevent potential disaster!
  • There seems no obvious ‘off switch’ just in case it doesn’t work out – so its hard to avoid pump failure!

I don’t see much benefit these days in trying to introduce a single new idea, linked to a single new(er) technology (Webx.x @gnuchris) unless you have done a great job, priming the pump.

To me, this means working with both teachers and leadership staff to ensure that everyone is aware of what is going to happen when you hit the ‘start’ button. Including everyone who is  potentially influenced or affected by the information flow of new ideas, methods and technologies. This means having a number of well articulated plans and strategies that communicate what to expect, what do if you get stuck, how to manage the new environment and how to support people though a period of change etc,. Lack of planning is akin to kids turning on the fire hydrant to play in the water. Its very exciting for a while for those jumping through the water, but is seen as disruptive and is unsustainable, by the authorities who shut it down.

To scale better ICT use, model better practice and develop sustainable ‘habits of mind’ beyond a handful of teachers is more a process of renewal and recycling than revolution (sorry Mr Rudd). I hope to start running some free professional learning workshops at Macquarie University soon; all about pump priming – as I feel strongly that higher education (and my role in that process) must connect far more with teacher-educators in learning how to learn. I’d just like to thank Annabel for the HTAV workshop this week, which primed this post.


2 thoughts on “Priming the Educational Pump

  1. The other thing that I have been thinking about since Tuesday is pre-service training – especially in year-long, post grad course such as a Diploma of Education. In these courses, there is obviously a need to concentrate upon pedagogy usually related to subject areas and within these subjects some discussion of the integration of “ICT” into these subjects. The thing that I have found is that the subject area experts may not have access to the ‘latest’ pedagogy re ICT. This is understandable as we see education departments under resourced in terms of staffing. I don;t think it is adequate preparation to ‘teach’ ‘ICT’ in isolation. Different areas need targeted training that marries subject specific pedagogy to ’21st Century Learning.

  2. Absolutely – Professional Learning is about constructive alignment of outcome, activity and assessment – all of which may or may not include ICT. In a world of social change, expedited by the GFC, and rapid changes in employment – including ICT in this – at 200, 300 plus levels seems to make more sense than ignoring, or using it badly.

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