Bad practice

9th February 2001 at 00:00
Jack Kenny looks at all that's bad in educational technology and what we can learn from the experience.

Write time, wrong method One of the first examples of bad practice that I ever noticed has almost reached classic status. Fortunately it is becoming rare, but I was startled to see it again recently. The school has a network room that is heavily booked. The children have written a story in their exercise books. On their next visit to the room, they take the books along and sit for most of the lesson copy-typing into the computer.

Where next?

The computer as a writing tool is one of the best aspects of ICT and it is sad that this teacher has not given the students the opportunity to write directly into the computer and then to experience the pleasure of being able to edit their work. Daniel Chandler's essay has some interesting thoughts on how writing is different on a computer. There is also a section of word processor activities on the NGFL English site. Functionsmcs.html Quick! It's the policy police There is an inspection coming up and the headteacher is placing great emphasis on documentation. The deadline is end of term. The ICT co-ordinator is newly appointed and has not had time to revise the departmental documentation, which in any case is seven years old, dog-eared and irrelevant. Everyone knows that there are ICT policies floating around the Internet. So it's easy enough to download a few, find the best one, tinker with it and put the name of the school at the top..

Where next?

Not a good idea. Ofsted probably wouldn't spot it but that's not the point; a good opportunity would be missed to create a new policy. It is easy to be cynical about policy documents, and it is true that they are often shelved once they have been written. The crucial part is the discussion and argument that goes on to create the policy. If other staff are to feel that they have any stake in ICT, they should be involved in the formulation, and that is just not possible with the off-the-shelf internet document. There are some splendid tools on the Becta site for developing policy and for creating acton plans to guide the development of ICT. schoolsmanagersschoolstools.html Red cards and off you go It often happens. The lesson in the ICT suite has started and before long the hands of students are raised for assistance. It is possible for pupils to sit for fairly long periods until help arrives, as the teacher dashes round like Mickey Mouse in The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

Where next?

I am indebted to David Blow of Ashcombe School for this one. Supply red and blue cards that will sit on top of the computers. If a child experiences a technical fault, a red card is displayed, if it is a knowledge issue then it's a blue card. The technician or assistant will answer the red cards and the teacher will deal with the blue cards. It does, of course, only work well if you have access to a technician.

Stuck in the middle with you You are in the middle of a lesson in the ICT suite and a child wanders in telling you that his history teacher has asked him to come in to find and print a copy of the Magna Carta. You then find that the child has no idea how to use the Internet, to search and locate the document and then does not know how to print it once it is found.

Where next?

Very annoying - breaks up your lesson. Isn't this a clash of learning and teaching styles that will bedevil most work in that school? If a school has not addressed its own dominant learning style, then you will have some teachers who are running their work holistically - through discovery and enquiry - and you will have others who are focused on teaching specific content, step by step. If a school has decided on the more open, collaborative style of learning then students have to be given the skills necessary to do that. The following site has some stimulating thoughts on the different styles of using ICT. 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 is to encourage good practice, there is no intention to pillory any school or individual. All material that we use will preserve anonymity

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