Today’s conference at Center Parcs is focused on sharing good practice from the first phase of this project and inspiring those of us who are taking part in the second.
We begin with a keynote from Anne Casey on the changing landscape of ICT in schools. She’s the head of ICT at the Education Funding Agency.
She reminisces about the changes that have taken place in school IT – from Banda machines to the Internet to interactive whiteboards to memory sticks (sometimes the simplest things are the most powerful).
What we’re doing is inspiring, creative action research to maybe work out what the next phase of is development is. It’s important to get it right and quite hard to have an impact. “It’s much harder than rocket science.” There are also budget concerns, although this might be a blessing in disguise because people will less money probably make better decisions for their schools.
It’s important work because we’re going to need around 5 million more ICT experts coming out of education in the next few years, and they need to be taught and inspired in schools, not higher education.
Anne talks about it starting with Lego, to encourage creativity and building things. It doesn’t need to cost a fortune! She talks about the negative voices: it changes the relationship between teacher and pupil, it’s a distraction…if half the staff thinks this it’s really difficult to change the mindset. She shares Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm diagram and talks about getting people on board.
We are moving away from big banks of computers and towards things like social media and mobile devices. Anne tells us that biros were banned in her primary school, and calculators in her secondary school. Now schools ban phones, yet this is the way we are naturally moving. The cloud is becoming more popular. Anne thinks we should spend more time improving use of interactive whiteboards in school because we haven’t got half our money’s worth yet. It’s important we don’t end up with dead technology that has no impact.
Anne shares a very cool augmented reality site allowing you to play with wind turbines online (ecomagination.com) but then points out that sometimes a picture or using a fan to blow their hair around can work better with students.