Sunday, October 17, 2010

Scottish Government Technologies for Learning Strategy #ediff

A few folks have aleady had a go at summarising discussions around Friday's event.
Neil Winton Fearghal Kelly Andrea Reid  and I'm sure more will follow.

The focus was on what schools and learners  (think nursery, primary and secondary schools ) should have access to and how a government with limited resources can support the necessary initiatives and investment to support this access.

The best bits.. that there is still broad support for the vision of a Scottish Schools Intranet and the notion that institutions, learners and teachers need to be trusted much more and have greater access to the internet. Expressed as a dimmer switch that could be turned up or down to protect learners as they progress through education. ( this has been aired lots of times and  in lots of ways  before)

This was a gathering of like minds from the Scottish educational  blogosphere. We can like all educators fight over the number of angels that can dance on the end of a pin ..but we didn't have to do too much justification on whether more technology is good for learning and learners.Yes we agree that play is central to learning and that there is a place for games based learning in schools ( and beyond serious games happening more and more in workbased learning)

What we didn't have time to do but I hope will be done was strip the  discussion down to the things that need to be in place
  • Without reliable broad band access across all schools vision cannot happen.  There should be guidelines on what learners should have access to in nursery, primary and secondary across Scotland.
  • Without guidelines on "the dimmer switch" most local authorities will opt for the standardised web filtering policies that keep most learners and teachers in the dark
  • A minimum national intranet should allow interaction between teachers, learners and relevant agencies at a national level 
  • It wasn't said in this way but one of my own - If Starbucks can do wifi why can't Scotland's schools - learners should be able to use their own devices to access their school platform.
 The outputs of what was a full day stimulating debate - not short on big words - and big ideas from Pat Kane @theplayethic  are captured in David Gilmour's photographs of the  flipcharts.

We didn't touch much on the support available through the internet itself - there are offerings from Microsoft, Intel , Cisco, Oracle, Google and more aimed at building up the digital literacy of teaching staff and learners and we only began to consider the growing open educational resource movement. Nor did we spend much time talking about what assets the learner takes in this domain from primary into secondary or the eportfolio they could usefully take into College or workbased learning.

Most of this audience have at some stage or continue to take a professional risk in blogging , adopting twitter or more modestly asking for some webservice or other to be unblocked. I think the education hackers or edupunks are live and well in Scottish education but need more encouragement. They are still a challengingly small minority of voices - echoing , re-blogging and tweeting each other. There needs to be a cultural shift and more support from the agencies that look after standards of access and the teaching standards in Scotland.

I hope this debate moves on at pace. We are not being ambitious enough for our learners in this space. The savvy ones can already do a lot of their own learning in their own time on their own devices in a place and time that suits them. The debate is not about schools staying technologically relevant it is really about the continiuing relevance of our education system.


Neil Winton said...

I would have loved to have had time to consider what might be on the table with regards to external support for technology in learning. Maybe that will come later.

I think the point you make about the like minds in the same space is worth really reiterating as well. I think it shows that someone somewhere has realised that there is a divide in knowledge and have actively taken steps to seek out those with the knowledge that can help shape the future.

Long may this enlightened approach continue... though I fear we may not have any further involvement in the process.

Joe Wilson said...

Oh ye of little faith - I think we'll be back around table at some point. Things are going to be very tough across the public sector and to make most of expertise and web developments we need to share as much as we can.
I've been at this since web arrived .. tipping point is getting closer.
Excellent post on plagiarism I used get sample essays from a range of cheat sites and get my learners to mark them - served number of purposes
;-) Here is what we did in the 1990's

AB said...

For what it's worth, I think looking at what's already on offer by big companies/open source has been on the agenda for some time. Anyone that has heard me speak or been in discussion with me at any point over the last year will have seen a three part mantra - open standards, interoperability and best of breed.

Joe Wilson said...


We're on same page. Comment was about debate rather rather than opinions held in room - I took measured exception to one of Pat's comments about there not being enough eduhacking going on .. though I think it was calculatd dig. I think most folk in that room have been doing just that in past or in their current roles.

But we do need to do more to position say Microsoft Innovative Schools , Oracle Academy , Intel STEM and Teacher Resources .. and many more alongside all the OER resources that are arriving
I think we still looking in the waty when we need to look out the way.