When the £12 million Technology Enhance Learning research programme was launched five years ago, they predicted that ‘inertia ‘ amongst teachers and institutions could continue to be a barrier to innovative adoption of technology unless convincing evidence could be provided to the sceptics.
Today’s final meeting of the programme at the Royal Society set out to showcase the results of eight key research projects in the presence of Minister of State for Universities and Science David Willetts, ex Secretary of State for Education Charles Clarke along with members of the great and the good as well as the ‘cantankerous and the outspoken’ (well Alastair Clark and Terry Loane were there!)
Speakers from the stage were largely converts to the value of technology in learning with even the doubtful Alison Wolf admitting that ‘when it’s used wonderfully, it’s wonderful’ .
What were the messages for the adult learning world? Well the strongest messages for me came from David Willetts who spoke very positively of technology in Adult literacy and numeracy and he even went on to praise the value of the Virtual Campus secure network in prisons. However, I suspect that news of the Virtual Campus’s success on a national scale is a little premature and I suggested (to he minister) that this is a prime area for some probing research. This case is worth pursuing if we want to ensure that this bold investment in boxes and wires really does realise its potential to change lives through learning.
None of the eight projects had had a primary focus on FE and skills sector and although there were interesting results around semantic web, use of virtual worlds algebra and scientific inquiry, I did not leave with fuel needed to overcome the inertia that the project had hoped to shift.
It’s all down to UfI!
I cycled away really hoping that the £50 million UfI funding brings forward some more generic models which can be easily adapted an adopted. I suspect that he approach of funding robust and scalable projects will do more to win hearts and minds!
I have, of course, not done justice to the hard work over 5 years of 200 researchers! For the full story check out the final report: System Upgrade at http://www.tel.ac.uk
I will go on to examine some of the little gems from TEL is later postings.