This Tuesday, the Visualisation and Other Methods of Expression project on which I work hosted a workshop at the
One of the Speakers included Ollie Bray, the National Advisor for Learning and Technology Futures at Learning and Teaching Scotland. His talk touched on the technology available to open up learning. He made the argument that kids today are different to previous generations, as a result of social change and digital technology. They have access to any information that they want (although maybe not knowledge) but they may not be emotionally ready for this information. The role of the educator is to promote trust, but also to protect children. Schools can be ill-prepared for these responsibilities (how many kids have net access at home, what is a social network) There are problems around language – for 11-12yr olds, ‘friend’ is somebody you have made a connection with online – pretty much anybody with a shared interest, not necessarily the old definition. Language shifts over time – concepts such as ‘e-learning’ and ‘e-safety’ are a problem in themselves (in the same way that an ‘ICT area’ in a school is) in that they suggest ICT is separate from children’s lives – we should talk about safety and learning. Ollie also spoke about the use of games in education. He referred to a Futurelab study on this. Games are competitive, but non-threatening.
Ollies believes that with regard to technology ‘solution is in the problem’ which is currently an under-investment in technology and in teacher training. Technology infiltrates all areas of lives apart from formal education. Teachers need to get involved in informal information gathering. In speaking about the keys skills that he thought young people needed, he identified the notion of the digital footprint, including the tension between privacy and having a profile (a necessity for some careers, especially music, art, design etc), and that privacy doesn’t exist any longer, in the form that it might have in the past. Ollie advocated a broader critical literacy, helping young people to recognise persuasion and assess the reliability of information and credibility (which is in national curricula), but that fully includes digital critical literacy. Wikipedia was identified as a good tool for teaching this, due to the notes and change logs.
Ollie also identified some of the barriers to achieving this integrated, critical use of technology in education: 1) fear that children will misuse technology – which they will, but you have to teach responsible use, 2) need for training in the technology – but the technology is getting easier to use, 3) time taken to teach information technology – but if properly used, tech can save time, especially in engagement, 4) digital divides – the real digital divide is between the west and rest of the world, generally, as a society, we are in a good place. 5) motivation is the biggest barrier and often occurs at the highest level of organisations – the recent teaching white paper didn’t even mention information technology.