Life beyond the photocopier.

Where are we at with teaching ICT skills and knowledge – by which I don’t mean using ICT to generally teach the material or using it to skim the internet to then print off worksheets. How many staff are gathered around the photocopier each morning vs how many are showing colleagues new ICT skills and methods as they head into the playground?

It seems that while the last decade has seen technology rise, the integrated skills teachers have developed to effectively use ICT have improved marginally.

In the heady days of Web2.0, we saw plenty of established teachers simply ignore (and block) the shift to read/write/social ICTs. They never tried and were never required to do more than read email and knock out Word Docs. Graduates may have dabbled – but many of their tutors and lecturers were not interested – but usually had to shove in some “ICT” product to keep the powers happy.

Many new teachers also quit in their first five years, so perhaps those who last have been too busy with Quango Accreditation and learning who’s boss in the workplace to buildd up their ICT skills.

Some teachers have moved well beyond Word and the Photocopier (if they didn’t leave to go work at Google or MicroShop) … and others remained trapped,  because their Head is skill too ‘old school’ and so far hasn’t bothered to invest their own time – or anyone else’s in it.

For students, their level of ICT general knowledge – about computers, about the digital, about the Internet as technologies has been masked by the user experience and apps.

It’s no joke that ‘there’s an app for anything’ but this also means that anything can be thrown in an app if it is wrapped in sufficient ideological and on-trend buzzwords. Around all of this is a renewed attack on children’s use of digital media and computers.

Thanks to the post-truth culture created by Trump’s machine — it seems that simply making claims about what technology does to children is sufficient for 60 minutes to put out a film-noir about games and parenting to follow up from the morning show’s latest attack on teachers.

The bottom line is – ask.

Ask what ICT skills your child is learning and what is the evidence that they are using it well. Are they getting feedback online? are they able to manage their workload online? – or just uploading Docs to a deadline.

Ask to see the course that their teacher has put online in whatever form – get interested in it. Could you learn from that? Is what you’re seeing engaging – or just digital worksheets.

At the same time.

Start piling up the photocopied worksheets they bring home and see for yourself just how big the pile gets, and how often Jimmy goes and looks at them.

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