Research two (2) topics related to ICT and education and keep a weekly record of your investigations in a journal.
This assignment is designed to help you to
- Develop your online research skills
- Gain a deeper understanding of, and draw informed conclusions about, issues relating to ICT and education
- Broaden your technical knowledge of ICT
- Identify a range of technologies appropriate for teaching and learning purposes
- Evaluate various technologies for ‘fit-for-purpose’ in a particular teaching episode
- Integrate ICT appropriately into your teaching practice
It’s early days in the unit, but my initial thoughts are these…
Having done two practical placements in schools last year, some questions have formed in my mind around this topic area.
In the Rudd government’s “education revolution” promoted principally by Julia Gillard in her role as Education Minister, much was made of the promise of a computer for every student. Implicit in the popularity with the media, parents and the electorate in general of this policy is the obvious assumption that “Well, the workplace and life in general is conducted largely online and with ICT, so surely it is best to immerse students in it from the beginning”. That was my line of thinking too before spending time in classrooms as a pre-service teacher.
In my (limited) experience with students in Canberra secondary schools I have yet to come across an instance of a student who could not competently navigate their way around whatever ICT-based application they were using at the time.
I came across plenty, however, who could not lay out a basic maths problem in an organised manner that facilitated their thinking on and solution of that problem, or who could not organise a science report in such a way as to encapsulate statements in sentences, concepts in paragraphs, or to communicate information in a clear manner with the written (or typed) word in general.
The schools I have taught in have computers available for students in their libraries and in dedicated computer labs, which the students have access to when not attending class or when the class has booked a lab for a lesson.
When teaching in a computer lab where the students have been requested to work on a specific site or application, a major part of my effort has been to walk around and check that students are on task, and not playing games, posting in forums, on chat sites, etc.
I know plenty of people with very low levels of education of all ages who are still able to search the internet for material supporting their crackpot theories of global warming denialism or neo-Nazi xenophobia and spam my inbox with them or post them on forums and chat rooms or start Facebook groups based around them, albeit often with appalling grammar, spelling and punctuation.
So my questions are these:
Is there a need for the focus in secondary education be shifted more to ICT-based learning, and is it necessarily beneficial?
Just how big is the digital divide? What proportion of students really don’t have access to ICT and learning how to use it?
Having said all of the above I should make it clear that I’m not anti-use of ICT for teaching and learning, and can see many potential benefits in it’s use, such as fantastic scaffolding, the enabling of active learning, and the leading of students into the idea that knowledge is contestable.
On that last point, I find it a bit vexatious in the context of educating young people, as I have found that the introduction of uncertainty can be a major obstruction for them to grasp any one concept in full in the first place.
I’ll get on with some readings now, and post my thoughts on them as I do them. This will probably be through the prisms of the above questions, but these may change as time progresses…