UNESCO supports a network of university chairs in ICT and learning across the world coordinated by the UNESCO Institute for Information Technology in Education. .
These academics and educationalists come together once a year to share practice and results of research. I was delighted to be invited to make a contribution to this year’s conference held in St Petersburg.
Amid plenty of talk about strategy and policy, I set out the vital role played by front line teaching staff in ensuring that learners of all ages experience the full benefits that effective use of technology can bring to teaching and learning. (A theme I may have used before!)
I argued that changes in practice will be driven as much by teachers’ attitudes as it will by their access to technical skills.
I thought it was relevant to consider the 2013 work of the Oxford Internet Institute where they identified 5 different ‘cultures’ amongst internet users. They ranged from the e-mersives at one end of a spectrum to a-digitals who are inclined to view the digital world with huge suspicion.
POINT 1 We should take account of existing teacher attitudes when we plan their training.
I then drew on three separate case studies of technology adoption.
NIACE E Guides programme (UK) with ‘change agents’ equiped with skills and laptops to cascade training.
Virginian Central school system (USA) where Dr Elizabeth Langran had conducted research info effective leadership. This key finding is pivotal:
It is not enough for leaders to model risk-taking, but they must also let teachers know that there is enough support available to them to catch them when they fall.
Lycee in Cantal (France)
Florence Mesnil offered her perspective on adoption of technology in teaching. She cited a very effective ‘bottom’up’ approach where teachers took an initiative themselves to research use of interactive whiteboards and to make a proposal for investment in the local school system. The proposal was accepted and the deployment successful. In contrast, she cited an example of ‘top down’ deployment of PDF electronic text books. This is very much an example of ‘sustaining’ rather than disruptive technologies – just doing the same thing but with text on screen rather than on paper. Surprise, surprise people can’t see the point of this!
Florence is one of many inspired and innovative teachers and there really is a message here (which links with Elizabeth’s point) – trust the guys on the ground!
We talked a lot about user-generated content and I just had to end with tht fabulou short video made by two on my French students. David and Ian illustrated the verbs which take etre in past tense. It was hilarious – merci les gars!