The lack of postings on my blog over the past week or so is due to the fact that I’ve been away, relaxing in a remote area of the West Coast with no internet or cell phone access! A good opportunity to catch up on a bit of reading – among which are a couple of really interesting reports from the UK:
Titled The impact of ICT in schools – a landscape review, it is just published by Becta and provides a major review of the evidence on the impact of ICT in schools. The review, carried out by researchers at the Quality in Education Centre, University of Strathclyde, looked at over 350 sources to build a ‘big picture’ of where and how ICT has had an impact across the schools sector, including:
- Impact on teaching and learning
- Impact on attainment
- Personalisation of the learning experience
- Impact on home-school links
- Impact on administration, management and workload.
The review found that evidence of impact is inconsistent across schools, subjects and technologies. The greatest impact is found where the use of ICT is embedded in everyday classroom experience, has clear educational goals, and is seen as purposeful by pupils. Other key findings include:
- A whole-school strategy that addresses the development and sustainability of ICT is a critical factor in the effective use of technology.
- Teachers’ ICT skills have developed significantly over the years, as has the range of both hardware and software available in the classroom – there is evidence that these developments have led to a reduction in teachers’ workloads.
- Use of ICT is most effective where teachers integrate a number of technologies – for example, laptops, interactive whiteboards and the internet.
- ICT can contribute to personalising learning by putting greater control in the hands of the learner, but the challenge this presents to the traditional teacher-pupil relationship means this may not always be welcomed.
The list of findings and conclusions in the report all resonate with me in terms of the New Zealand experience. It’s always good to see what we’re doing in the context of international experience, and find that we’re all in the same ball park!
The final bullet point above, in particular, is one that we should take particular notice of as our (NZ) Minister of Education is promoting the Personalising of Learning within all areas of our education system in NZ at the moment. In my experience there’s a danger in seeing ICT as the magic bullet that may bring this about – but as the evidence suggests, while the potential for this may exist the ICT alone will not allow us to achieve a personalised approach to learning.
This brings me to the second of the readings – one that I downloaded earlier last year, but only got around to reading again in detail over the break.
- enabling learners to make informed educational choices;
- diversifying and acknowledging different forms of skills and knowledge;
- creating diverse learning environments; and
- developing learner-focused forms of assessment and feedback.
The body of the report provides a lot of explanation and some useful examples – a recommended read to begin the year!