Cyber centre 'emasculated by ruling elite'

22nd September 2000 at 01:00
THE Scottish Virtual Teachers' Centre earns "one cheer only", a research study has found.

Tom Conlon, of Edinburgh University's education faculty, and David Bird, of James Gillespie's High, Edinburgh, argue that teachers view the centre as being dominated by the Inspectorate, politicians and academics.

They comment: "By excluding teachers' discussion and neglecting teachers' capability to contribute content, the SVTC has become a collection of recommended reading rather than a genuine teachers' centre." It had become "emasculated by the ruling elite in Scottish education".

Mr Conlon and Mr Bird, who are giving a paper on the topic at this weekend's 900-strong European Conference on Educational Research in Edinburgh, urge the authorities to pay heed to teacher reactions if they want to make a success of the National Grid for Learning and attempts to promote democracy and citizenship throgh electronic networks. There would have to be "vigorous professional debate".

The report adds: "It is not enough to rely on unpublished internal evaluations with hand-picked focus groups, as the SVTC appears to do."

Among teacher comments were that "general net search for my subject better", but others found the vetting of websites saved them time, with one concluding it was "an excellent resource".

The researchers suggest a general conclusion, however, that while teachers regard the virtual centre as "usable", they are not much impressed by its content particularly when compared with other sites. More classroom teaching resources was a key demand.

Mr Conlon and Mr Bird believe that as teachers grow technologically more confident, their sense of frustration with the virtual centre will increase. They need to "wrest back control" or develop specialist sites of their own.

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