Guest posts

#threequestions on technology with @teachertoolkit

By August 3, 2014 2 Comments

The sixth contributor to the series is Ross Morrison-McGill. You can find him on Twitter as @TeacherToolkit and he blogs here:

Tell us a bit about yourself?

Apparently I blog and tweet far too much! I’d say, I’m just a beginner …

1. What place, if any, has technology got in education?

Teaching and learning should be at the heart of all that we do in every school and must be paramount in every decision we make. It doesn’t take me to tell you, that the vast majority of our students are far more ICT savvy than the *vast majority of teachers – of my generation – and that we continue to play catchup. In my own experience, a disappointing issue, is that many schools are still, so far behind the technology and that the main reason for this, is purely financial and ICT (strategic) leadership. This is an area, under-valued. As well as chasing headlines and moving goalposts, ICT is often shunned in order to meet targets, *Some headteachers see ICT infrastructure, as well as devices that constantly become obsolete, a huge expenditure. Quite rightly, considering annual costs exceed £60-100,000 in large secondary schools (in London). More should be done to regulate providers and annual site license costs. Companies like SIMS, that dominate the MIS market, charge extortionate prices and I’m pleased to see, there are more competitors coming into the market, to make ICT infrastructure, more competitive and cheaper for schools. Ignoring all the ICT programmes, techniques and dos/don’ts, ICT holds a vital place in education. I’ve been using ICT for the past 15+ years in the classroom (circa. July 2014) and today, it has such a momentous grip on all aspects of school life. We would be unable to live without it today. It is therefore a necessity, that all schools and teachers embrace ICT as soon as possible. For me, it’s equally important as literacy and numeracy!

2. What’s your favourite edtech tool for learning and why?

Simple. GoogleDocs. Why? @ICTMagic said so.

3. What are your thoughts on students using mobile devices in the classroom?

Tricky one here. This is a matter of cost and need. Bring-Your-Own-Devices (#BYOD) to school is one possible solution, allowing all school children to attend school with a web-enabled mobile phone. And one of the problems with this idea is this, unless the school provides a device, not every child will be given fair-access. Pupil Premium funding may help … Schools can also make this concept achievable – and secure and intuitive – using locked-down wifi-zones enabling or deactivating sophisticated applications in various subject zones across a school building. Examples include Futurelab’s ’Social Software’ report and a personal example of ‘Rewarding Risk’ with the Technology Education Research Unit (TERU). This again, will need funding to support the infrastructure, but can reap huge benefits for students (and teachers). Given the right boundaries this can and does work. Mobile devices need to be defined into a framework as a prototype for everyone. It’s certainly not a new idea, but some schools continue to deny this ideology by embracing Apple Inc. through the purchase of their devices for all students! There are many solutions – particularly free cloud-based software – and in my experience, you must appoint internal and external experts to lead on ICT policy and practice. I’d refrain from leaving these decisions solely to senior leadership. As for me, I’ve yet to work in a school that allows mobile devices across the school. I’ve championed some ICT action-research for TERU in 2008 here: Rewarding Risk:

It’s only a matter of time!

Thanks to Ross for his thoughts and taking the time to respond to the #threequestions. I’m looking forward to publishing the next set of responses tomorrow. If you have any comments for Ross, both he and I would love to hear from you below. If you’d like to add your thoughts by answering the #threequestions, then simply fill out the form here. Thanks for reading!


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