The series continues today with a response from Chris Hildrew. You can find him on Twitter @ChrisHildrew and his blog is here: http://chrishildrew.wordpress.com/ – my thanks to him and everyone else who has been contributing to the series.
A bit about yourself:
I am Deputy Head of a comprehensive school near Bristol, and an English and Media Studies teacher. My particular interests are in curriculum, creativity, and data in education. I am part of the Excellence and Growth network and working hard to promote a growth mindset in education!
1. What place, if any, has technology got in education?
Technology certainly has its place in education! It seems to me that there are three distinct roles. Firstly, there is technology as the servant of learning. By this I mean edtech tools that enhance the learning experience by making it more visible, tangible, experiential or accessible to the learners. This sometimes gets lost in the whizz-bang of exciting new edtech tools, where “every child with an iPad” is taken up as an enthusiastic cry without enough thought being devoted to what those children are actually going to do with those iPads when they have them in English, French, Geography or Drama. However, where the learning is best achieved using technology – then I’m all for it!
Secondly, there is education about technology itself. In media, for example, much of my stock-in-trade is teaching about cameras, editing software and online sharing tools with a view to making the best possible productions. More broadly, our students (and teachers!) are wired in to tech most of their waking lives, so education about using these tools efficiently, safely, productively and healthily is absolutely critical.
Finally, for me, there’s the staffroom-side use of edtech to share best practice, collaborate and bridge geographical barriers. Through online work I have made connections with teachers all over the world and worked with them on shared projects in real time – this would not have been possible when I started my career in the mid-1990s!
2. What’s your favourite edtech tool for learning and why?
This is a tough one. I love the collaborative co-construction enabled by things like Google Docs, WordPress and PreziEdu, which enable multiple authors to work on presentations, documents, blog, websites and materials at the same time from anywhere. I take this for granted now, but when I stop to think, it’s truly revolutionary. However, for learning I come back to the visualiser. I first bought AverVision visualisers for my English Department as a HoD in about 2006, I think, and they were in constant use. Now, of course, you can use Apple TV or equivalent to broadcast straight from your phone or tablet camera to the projector, and that makes a separate visualiser unnecessary. However, the principle of sharing exemplar student work instantly with the class is still incredibly powerful. The same effect can be achieved for on-screen work using broadcasts in network software like Impero – another really powerful tool.
3. What are your thoughts on students using mobile devices in the classroom?
This is a tricky one. I was all for it a few years ago, but I’m coming away from it now. When I want to get a piece of important work done these days, I put my phone in a separate room so I can focus on the task in hand, and my concern with mobile devices in the classroom is that they can be more of a distraction than a help. I’m not saying never – where there is a relevant application for using mobile devices in the lesson (for example, where it would be really helpful for every student to have a camera) then I’d say yes. However, we have a clear line in our school that we don’t want to see mobile devices in students’ hands when they are in school which makes it really easy to police – and learning doesn’t seem to have suffered as a result! So, on balance, I’d ask “is a mobile device really essential to secure the learning here?” If the answer is yes, then okay – if it’s a whizz-bang attention-grabber only then I’d say find an alternative!
Many thanks to Chris for his contribution. If you’d like to have your say, then please do by visiting here and filling out the form.