Sunday, 15 January 2012
Karen Meluish posted this on the VLN. While she finishes by saying that her need and her passion for the tool kept up the momentum for the change to her practice, she needed the tool first. How many of our teachers express that frustration because we can't equip them with enough tools? Is it really an excuse? Read on.
What comes first - the teach or the tech?
I remember justifying my purchase of a smartphone two years ago. I wanted
to be able to work while travelling, catch up on reading, listen to music
on the bus, I reasoned. Pretty unremarkable rationale. Nothing for Steve
Jobs to be worried about.
What I didn’t expect was the way it seemed to change the way I worked and
organized aspects of my life in ways that I hadn’t anticipated. So much
so, in fact, that I felt inexplicably bereft when I recently mislaid it
(the phone, not my life). Would I have worked so hard on my photography if
I hadn’t had access to all those apps in my pocket? Would I have managed
the work-home-children juggle so easily without that access-anytime
So - what came first? My needs – or the technology?
In September 2010, the-now-sadly-defunct BECTA published a report on the
ways that digital technologies impact on learning. The assertion that
caught my eye was that
“ICT has reconfigured classroom practice in the project schools in
What causes teachers to adjust their practice? Can the affordances of
technology alone open up possibilities to learning that teachers had not
thought of before – and does this impact on the pedagogy they use?
And, how far is it risky to assert that the technology can drive
The report’s two key findings are interesting:
When teachers make changes to activities, room layout and processes, to
accommodate technology, it makes new forms of classroom practice possible.
In particular, this impacted on differentiation, inspiration, coherence and
engagement, resource-sharing, access to the internet for research and access to
read-to-hand tools can widen the variety of learning practices.
But was it the technology alone that caused shift?
The report also highlighted the there were themes that were central in the
classrooms and schools that experienced change: evolving vision and
leadership, a developing infrastructure for out-of-school learning;
multifaceted staff development and the role of students; redefining
While technology may be a catalyst for change, it can’t happen without
corresponding change in the surrounding infrastructure, a lift in the
capability across the organization.
So, even if the tech does come first, the report suggests you need some
pretty sound teaching structures in place to keep it flying in a way that
will make a difference.
And that smartphone needs a fairly harassed mother who adores photography
to make the most of what it has to offer;-)
[Source attached: Crook, Harrison, Farrington-Flint, Tomás, Underwood,
(2010), The impact of technology: Value-added classroom practice.
BECTA: The impact of technology_value-added classroom practice
[Originally posted inthe e-Leaning Research Network, April 2011]
(So...is that a good excuse for me to get that smart phone I want? Annemarie)