Bad practice

5th January 2001 at 00:00
Jack Kenny looks at all that's bad in educational technology and what we can learn from the experience

Now if you are good She knew that most of her pupils liked to go to the computer suite so she turned it into an incentive. "If you are good on Friday afternoon, we will go into the computer room. I have already booked it but I can easily un-book it if you are difficult this week." There were weeks when they didn't go but most weeks they did. She didn't know what was possible in the computer room but they did. Basically, it wasn't work to them as they could play games, surfing, emailing friends, downloading while she walked around marvelling at their concentration and longing for the weekend.

Where next?

Lessons in the computer room could replace television and video lessons as rest and recreation periods. However, isn't viewing the computer as a toy as well as a reward giving students the wrong signals?

Database drudges There they are, sitting thereI the framework of the database has been designed as per the National Curriculum. Lesson after lesson they laboriously type in the individual records so that they will have something on which to practise their interrogation skills.

Where next?

Simple. Such drudgery is completely unnecessary. Just give your students a prepared database once they have learnt how to create one. They can interrogate that without the labour of entering the records.

Walking in front with red flags This year every student who took GCSE English had to handwrite some of his or her coursework. It could not be handed in as a print-out. It will not surprise you to know that many students word processed their work and then wrote it out. Apparently the only reason for this most peculiar practice is to check handwriting. Hardly convincing, as all the work in the examination room is handwritten and handwriting can be checked and assessed there. There must be another reason, mustn't there? Ho humI on we go into the 21st century.

Where next?

If you are responsible for GCSE English, it's time to try and discover why this anomaly is still there.

The great digital dictator A digital camera has been purchased for the school. Staff soon realised that it was very easy to use. Turn on, ensure it had a disk and then shoot. Ms T who has a sonjust started at nursery wanted to borrow the camera for her next field trip the following week. This was refused because she had not been on the school's digital camera course. She protested that she didn't have time, there was a child to pick up each day and anyway she knew how to use the camera. Still her request was refused.Where next?

Any school that insists on training is to be admired. However, some digital cameras can be very simple to use, especially those that record on to an ordinary floppy disk. The resources manager in the school would have done a better job if she had allowed the camera out after five minutes of explanation and offered to help the teacher with the pictures that she had taken.

Get the lesson across The lesson begins in the computer suite and all the students log on. The teacher wants to attract their attention. He is only partially successful because a few students are beguiled and distracted by what is now on the screen. The fundamental instructions that the teacher then gives are imperfectly understood and this results in problems further into the session.

Where next?

The routine should be to log on and then turn off all the monitors until the teacher starts the hands-on section of the lesson.

More than my job's worth Sitting in the network room with an English teacher. All you've got in your area of the network is a word processor. That's all he says we need.


The guy who manages the network.

What do you think?

Well, we would like to do some desktop publishing (DTP).

Have you asked?

He says DTP is reserved for the art department. He won't let you use any art package?

The answer is no, for the same reason.

Where next?

A complaint to the senior management team is necessary with a recommendation that an ICT committee be set up to advise the network manager. Full access to ICT is the right of every child and in this case to every department. Curriculum decisions are the responsibility of the appropriate teachers.

We are looking for more genuine examples of bad practice. If you know of any, please email details to Jack Kenny at jack.kenny@who.netThe purpose of this column is to encourage good practice, rather than apportion blame. All material that we use will preserve anonymity

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