He's bad. Jack Kenny looks at all that's bad in educational technology and what we can learn from it.
NGFL money was eagerly awaited. No money came. The LEA adviser said that the money would go out to the schools in the form of equipment. "Buying in bulk for the whole area would give more leverage and better value for money would result," he explained. Some of the schools wanted to have the burden of spending lifted from them, so they approved. Others did not really care. Two or three schools did not agree. They argued and eventually they each received a sum of money. Strangely, this sum did not equal the value of the equipment given to the more docile schools.
This LEA is working on an Eighties model of behaviour. You can sympathise with it, even if you don't condone it. Many schools are run by heads who are as ICT literate as anyone in the advisory service and they react strongly to being patronised. Choice is essential. High-handed behaviour can be reported to the chief education officer or even more effectively to politicians on the education group.
* The gatekeeper rides again
Imagine that you are a young teacher and you are faced with this. "I work in a middle school. When discussing ICT in the numeracy hour last week with the maths co-ordinator and the IT co-ordinator I was told: 'We do not recommend switching the computer on during literacy and numeracy hour because it is just a distraction to the rest of the class. We do not intend to purchase any numeracy software.'" * Where next?
There are enough websites and programs that would convince even the most closed-minded person. When you are low in the pecking order it is difficult to take senior staff on. Probably the best technique is to find some of the literacy and numeracy programs and show them to other staff. If there is a tide of opinion then the decision might be re-considered.
* Porn wars
The boy was pleased because he was allowed to take home a laptop that weekend to complete some work. His father looked at the machine andfor some reason started to look at the cache where previously viewed Internet pages were stored. He was surprised to find some pages from pornography sites. His immediate reaction was to blame his son. However, the dates when the pages were accessed were before the period of the loan. The father reported the matter to the headteacher. It was established that the machine in question had been loaned to a teacher during the period.
* Where next?
This goes right to the heart of the debate surrounding pornography. It's not just the students who are likely to be the culprits, as the national press seems to think, but some staff. We know of network managers who know exactly how long teachers and lecturers have been online, what pornography they downloaded and even the numbers of their credit cards. There is only one answer - a whole-school policy (vetting software cannot give a complete solution). Students and staff must be made aware that their activities are logged and they should be signed up to an acceptable use policy (details of these and examples can be found at the addresses below).
* Decisions! Decisions!
The school had a windfall of pound;12,000 from a charitable foundation. The majority of the staff wanted to spend most of it on equipping a couple of classrooms with interactive whiteboards and projectors. The head, anxious to improve the computer-to-pupil ratio, decided to buy more desktop computers.
* Where next?
There is a debate needed. The drive that is on to improve computer:pupil ratios can be short-sighted. The figures look good in the press and are a kind of benchmark. Yet there are schools where it could be argued that the impact of a whiteboard with a fine teacher and appropriate software can outweigh the impact of four or five computers on a whole class. Whatever, no one person should make the decision.
If you know of any genuine examples of bad practice, email details to Jack Kenny at email@example.comThe purpose of this column is to encourage good practice, rather than apportion blame. All material that we use will preserve anonymity