Changes (or a Friday ramble)

The other day, my 14 year old daughter asked me,  “When I get into the real world, when will I have to write pages of handwriting again?”  I could not think of an example.  True, handwriting will still be required, and I hope admired and valued, but at this stage it appears that the ability to write a 1000 word essay by hand in 80 minutes is purely for the sake of examinations.  I had to admit, that assessment procedures have not yet caught up – they haven’t worked out a way to fairly and securely allow students to be examined via digital format.  So we accepted that probably soon after she graduates high school – 4 years time, they will be introducing digital exams…. too late for her.  Things will change, as they always do.

A slight glance around at the school of today shows (amongst many other things)

  • staff collaborating on on-line journals and participating in on-line PD on Web 2.0 technologies
  • students and teachers experimenting with mobile devices (iPod’s)
  • Skype conversations with other schools
  • the seamless integration of the internet into classes (taking instant opportunity to explain a concept by seeing it immediately by the projector and the IWB)
  • staff absolutely lost if it is planning time and a computer is not available
  • enormous disruption to classes on the odd day the network fails
  • automated attendance rolls and reporting etc

In my teaching career, (a short 20 + years) things have changed to a very large degree and sometimes, I think we forget, just how much!   I remember being excited carrying our 2 Apple 2E’s (I think) around on a trolley – this was very exciting and I got the title of Computer Co-ordinator (mainly because I was not scared to turn them on and have a go).    I then left the teaching profession for a few years and worked in business – a place where computers were also starting to infiltrate more and more.  This experience soon had me adapting to required skills fairly quickly and then due to my teaching background, I assumed the responsibility of ‘Trainer’.  On my return to school based learning, computers were now in groups in Labs and many teachers were too scared to go there.  Ignorance bred fear.   “Computer Teachers’ became the experts and class teachers were able to abdicate responsibility. Gradually, staff received training or the proactive ones taught themselves along with the students and things started to happen.   Then, schools saw that the students needed access within their regular learning spaces if ICT’s were to be a genuine advantage, so some labs were disbanded and computers placed in classrooms.  ICT Integration Teachers tried to get technologies embedded within the curriculum – not a curriculum of their own.  Nowadays, (although not in the system in which I work) children are experiencing 1:1.  It cannot be said that the equipment or infrastructure has not altered.  But has the teaching ????

Our broader lives are more and more affected by change as we pay our bills from our pc, download music from iTunes, carry a lifetime of music in a small pocket size device, Facebook our friends, video conference worldwide etc.  Schooling should reflect society and we are getting there and in some places we are ahead.  The statement of the obvious is that we need to ‘be’ where the students are.

Obviously there are places where the changes are not so significant, where the pressure to adapt has been resisted, but on the whole things have changed.  Chris Betcher comments in his Podcast “Breaking the Cycle” that schools are hard to shift.   In many ways he is right, and I believe there is a strong undercurrent of change hindered by those reluctant to move.   The reluctance may be fuelled by fear or sheer exhaustion, but  it can’t continue.    The question remains, how do we continue the momentum that is there?  What can we do to encourage those not so keen to adapt? Chris Betcher’s comparison of Teacher 1.0 vs Teacher 2.0 summarises much of the change in attitude required …

So too, we should consider that change for change sake is just silly.   We should incorporate technologies that improve learning opportunities and broaden possibilities.    The handwriting my daughter mentioned should still have its’ place.

Now with the BER providing some of us with new facilities, we are changing/adapting again, it seems that the cycle continues and I think it is good  – This is my perspective, other may see it differently?

Once again ‘whatedsaid‘ has summed up a positive view . Have a read .  What was your experience?