Bad practice

7th September 2001 at 01:00
He's bad. Jack Kenny looks at all that's bad in educational technology and what we can learn from it

Just off the staffroom, in a corridor, is a heap of black bags. Teachers pass them day after day, lesson after lesson. One teacher even stopped and looked inside and reported back to the staff. "It is our NOF training. There is a great thick glossy folder. It says 'Part One: this will take 10 hours'." The staff were not happy so the bags are still there except for the ones used for carrying passports and paperbacks on holiday.

Where next?

Whose bad practice is this? Looks as though the pound;450 per teacher spent on NOF training will be wasted here. Whose fault? Teachers who are not prepared to give up their own time? Senior management not smart and flexible enough to strike a deal with the staff? The Department for Education and SkillsTeacher Training Agency for creating the flawed scheme in the first place? Does it matter? There is a year or so to go. Someone in that school has to realise that they will waste nearly pound;40,000, that teacher morale has to be raised, that the training has to be made attractive and vital, and that it does not all have to be done in the teachers' own time. Internet essay fraud A flurry of worry recently about essay sites where students can obtain essays to put in as their coursework. One school marched everyone into the assembly hall and lectured them about the evils of the Internet. They were also told that if anyone was found downloading essays they would be expelled and their coursework would not be entered for GCSE.

Where next?

The Internet is a rich resource, and to suggest to students that they should avoid it is rather like telling them that they should not visit the library. Few schools teach students how to search for information, process it and present it. Some students think that the act of finding the information is the purpose. In other words, the cross-curriculum teaching of research and information skills is urgently needed. Task setting for coursework should also be reviewed. Concerned teachers should check out the sites. Coursework has been under suspicion for some time. In the past it was parent help that they worried about, now it is the Internet. A number of essay sites do exist and they are growing in number. The coursework set in many schools asks for the stereotypical response that these sites can supply. If essay titles are unimaginative and lack focus, it is hard to blame some students for taking the easy way out.

www.itrc.ucf.eduwebcampfinal_projectsbarneybig6.html ICT?No sirree!

A prestigious appointment was made recently, and the person who was appointed revealed after the appointment that she did not use ICT and, moreover, she found ICT distasteful. She knew the theory and could see its importance but personally she did not want to use it. She said that she would require a secretary to answer emails and letters. She did not have a computer at home and did not intend to acquire one. The post required the director to have a strategic understanding of ICT, as it would be at the core of the work.

Where next?

An amazing situation. Shouldn't the interview process have discovered this antipathy? Shouldn't all posts in education have some mechanism to discover a candidate's relevant ICT abilities and understanding? Would we employ someone at high level who could not write or read? A question of image

The head of geography in a secondary school did not like the school's image software. He wanted to use another product and asked for it to be purchased. The ICT co-ordinator considered that the package already in use in the schools was perfectly suitable. No discussion.

Where next?

Difficult. The co-ordinator could well be right. The differences between programs can be marginal and the prices can be very expensive. The situation calls for better communications. A subject, if it is a subject, like ICT requires live links with every department. In some schools any ICT purchase has to go before the ICT steering group to be ratified. All departments know what is going on and any awkward decisions are the responsibility of a group of people. In addition, it ensures that software might be used by more than one area. If you know of any genuine examples of bad practice, 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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