Turn off the internet?

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Jenny Luca (ACEC Award Winner 2010) posted a link to an article about the effects and dramas in de-internet-ing yourself, which I enjoyed. Is it possible to use technology in the classroom better – without assuming the web is a capstone? Scottish Educators seem to think so.

I’ve been following the way Scotland is using hand-helds and consoles following the recent game based learning conference in the UK, and have for a few years been an avid follower of what Derek Roberson and friends have worked into the Scottish Curriculum.

I especially like the academic partnerships that they have built to deliver and evaluate the use of games in the classroom. The critical thing to note is that the game is not ‘the learning’, but used as a centre from which they build lessons, activities – to meet existing standards.

What struck me during the GBL chatter, was that perhaps, primary schools and even secondary schools don’t have to walk down the 1:1 laptop or online pathway to introduce motivation and productivity into the classroom at all. Much of the work that Derek and colleagues conceptualise focus on the portability, ease of use, motivation etc., of stand alone consoles such as the Nintendo DS, Wii and Playstation.

In some ways, and perhaps not by design – their approach doesn’t place such massive computer and web focus on using technology. There are hundreds of stand alone game titles that could be used in this manner – without the need for a Cat5 cable suck into the PC.

Ollie Bray runs a fantastic blog – and more often than not looks at small, simple devices that can be used to improve all manner of student outcomes. In a recent post he highlighted a finding from the UK Ofsted report.

“Pupils in the schools that had “managed” systems had better knowledge and understanding of how to stay safe than those in schools with “locked down” systems. Pupils were more vulnerable overall when schools used locked down systems.

He also noted another report in which 32% of British children thought Google listed results by how true they were, and as we know in Australia, search remains one of the biggest ‘need’ areas for both teachers and students in critical literacy. Perhaps some respite from ‘the web’ might be appropriate.

What I really enjoy about much of the Scottish research and development into play, game and learning – is that they are acutely aware of bias – especially from the media who seem fascinated (if not titillated) in attempts to compare pen and paper to console and controller.

What Scotland seems to do well, is to engage academic, consumer, game, media and curriculum in an evidence based discussion – that doesn’t assume technology is best used when connected to the web. Much of their work looks at safety, health, learning spaces as well as replacing traditional lesson styles. Last term, my own kids didn’t get near technology in the classroom, as the BER new building meant fencing off the only ‘computer room’ the school has. Perhaps we are getting a little too web-dependent and should be considering how we can build learning activities around things other that laptops, desktops and IWBs.

Scotland seems to have a take on digital diversity that we can learn from – and despite not having ‘massive’ numbers of educators McLovin’ Web2.0 (same everywhere), this small band have achieved some very impressive results – which appears to me, from a distance – to have a lot to do with the way they engage authorities. If you are interested in GBL, then I highly recommend you take a look at what these people (and others) are doing in Scotland.