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How are schools dealing with the issue of access to ICT resources?

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Started by Enabling e-Learning 05 Jul 2011 8:18am () Replies (22)

This was one of the most popular question when the Leadership group voted last month.

Those who posted thought that access to ICT resources is often the number one frustration for teachers when faced with being asked to integrate ICT with their teaching and learning.

Let's start with the issues - list up to 3 that you find challenging.


  • Carolyn Stuart (View all users posts) 05 Jul 2011 8:34am ()




  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 12 Jul 2011 9:51am ()

    Bandwidth is a huge challenge, Carolyn. How is your school boxing around the issues at the moment? What do you see ahead, for your school, in terms of the ultra-fast broadband roll-out?

  • Carolyn Stuart (View all users posts) 12 Jul 2011 4:16pm ()

    We are just installing a second ADSL2 line which is going to be bonded to double capacity - a short term fix but hopefully enough to enable us to allow students to bring their own devices to school. We are having lots of dialogue around how we will manage traffic once we have fibre including bandwidth hungry apps like YouTube.

    The work we are doing in MyPortfolio is setting the scence for one-to-one curriculum delivery which meets my foundational belief around ICT which is:‘in what way might this application enable us to do something better/more effectively than the way we currently operate?’ . I have never been interested in a 1 to 1 programme that merely replicates the non-digital world.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 05 Jul 2011 10:26am ()

    Great responses in that survey. Here are some of my thoughts - probably aimed more at the leadership level.

    1. Addressing access issues in regards to equitable, reliable access to technologies. In some schools - there are classrooms with several new computers, others with less, older computers. Or in some cases, 30+ computers in a suite and few in the classrooms. Issue here, being equitable access

    2. Leadership understanding the correlation between school-wide vision for learning and how technologies will enable that to come about. Having strategic direction that aligns vision and budget/funding with the appropriate resource allocation - putting the money where the mouth is. EG: If you want to focus on enhancing oral literacy, then equitable distribution of video cameras and voice recorders might be the priority. Knowing how to use these effectively is another bullet point.   

    3. Like Carolyn says - access to good broadband and the budget to pay for on-going costs. Funds will always be an issue for schools.

  • Melanie Matthews (View all users posts) 05 Jul 2011 1:02pm ()

    1. Bandwidth is the biggest issue in our school
    2. Having a technician to call on when the need arises.
    3. Ongoing maintenance checks to enable reliable access to ICT resources.

  • Fastpaddy (View all users posts) 06 Jul 2011 12:10pm ()

    All good comments.

    Point England School is a good example where vision and leadership has made changes to how resources are allocated. Text book budgets are non-existent with those funds being used to fund ICT and internet connectivity on the basis that the information in the text books is also available on line.

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 19 Jul 2011 4:04pm ()

    Do we ask them to bring their own devices?....Rather timely to this discussion......I'm sure you will have seen the, rather squewed, article on Orewa College in Stuff today regarding the request for Year 9 parents support students to bring their own devices. Their letter to their parents clarifies the situation.

    There has also been some interesting discussion on the MLE Reference group forum on this topic, including a number of leaders sharing how they will manage the challenge of access.

    What are your thoughts on students bringing their own devices - and how is this different from bringing your own pen, calculator, sports equipment? What potential issues can you see here?

  • Fastpaddy (View all users posts) 19 Jul 2011 5:30pm ()

    Ultimately, there will be a time where all students will bring their own devices to school, or they will have access to personal devices provided through the school. We need to begin preparing for it now. Given the range of resources available to schools, this will be different for individual schools in terms of how and when. For certain schools bringing personal devices to school just adds to the risk of theft. It's bad enough with cell phones, now add ipads and laptops to the mix. In spite of the barriers, I think students should be encouraged to bring their own devides to schools, obviously with the proviso that they need to look after their devices if they do not want them nicked. This will firstly require schools to change their acceptable use agreements. It will also require schools to have wireless access across the whole school. This brings with it the challenge of data and its cost, because once students have easy access to data over the internet, using their own devices, it's a given that data usage will explode. Hopefully they will still be accessing data through the school proxy which will provide some protection. However, we all know how students use proxy sites to bypass filters, so some other monitoring will be necessary. Once students start bringing devices to school, how will teachers respond? Are they ready to deal with students who will want to access classwork from their device and submit assignments and assessments on line? Will students have ebooks?

    To sum up. Student devices at schools is a matter of when and how, not if. How this impacts on teaching and learning lies with the school and with individual teachers. Teachers and schools need to begin planning for this shift so that we do not inhibit the learning of our students through our own inertia, prejudices and fears.

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 20 Jul 2011 12:16pm ()

    Good common sense comments there, FastpaddySmile. With a clear focus on the purpose, the learning, rather than the devices per se, this kind of move should be managed it a way that's defensible and considered (not like the hysteria we've seen in the press this week...sigh..)

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 20 Jul 2011 12:21pm ()

    In the context of personal student devices vs the learning argument (which comes first - the teach, or the tech?) there has been an interesting post on the MLE forum today from Rozanne Donald at St Curthbert's:

    We started 1:1 in 1999 and now that programme extends to all students from year 5-13. Perhaps the issues over consistency of devices in a classroom fade away when a teacher is confidently practising “21st century pedagogy” and is encouraging students to learn and explore at their own pace with differentiated tasks. I don’t mean to sound cynical because it’s not that I don’t believe many teachers are doing that already. Many are and many are not. [A prevous post] mentioned the critical mass that results in a pedagogical shift. I thought that too. From my experience over many years of having entire years groups with exactly
    the same model I can confidently say that devices (consistency of model aside), don’t shift pedagogy. It may seem logical that whole classes with devices may demand to be taught in a way that leverages the power they have at their fingertips.

    Unfortunately for us two things got in the way of that: firstly teachers were so keen to make use of the devices they enthusiastically asked students to do exciting things like take notes on their laptop and download the handout instead of receiving the printed copy. The result was that students asked to be taught the old way and became a new generation of sworn luddites.

    Secondly, some teachers just didn’t see how a device could help them teach or their students to learn so they left it to other teachers to use them with their students. That was unfortunate for students who happened to be taught by a number of teachers who eschewed the laptops.

    I don’t want to sound negative about 1:1 because we now have exciting and lively teaching and learning using ICT in every area of the school. I could not say that when I started but I can say it now because we moved quickly to focus on pedagogy. It was hard work and absolutely second order change – the shift in deep-seated beliefs that needed to be engaged with and disrupted. It has been a long road – I sometimes have to remind my self of the many small victories when I get disheartened. My point is that in my experience the devices only make an automatic difference to the teachers who were already keen to integrate ICT into their teaching. Asking teachers to change their practice is asking them to take on a great deal of hard work albeit with significant rewards. Therefore it’s not enough to say the devices are here so you should just do it.

    .... I feel as if schools like Orewa College could avoid some of the controversy if they really focused on the rationale for integrating ICT into teaching and learning. They should keep the conversation all about the kinds of learning that devices can enable. A very wise Director of ICT (Howard Levin from The Urban School of San Francisco) once told me to never have parent meetings about laptops. Instead have meetings about teaching and learning. If the leaders who want to introduce devices
    can’t talk fluently about the kinds of teaching and learning they want to see when the devices arrive, then they have no business expecting teachers to take on the huge task of shifting their practice.

    Further detail about the shifting pedagogy to match the implementation
    of 1:1 http://beta.aalf.org/cms/?page=%20Global%20Story-%20St.%20Cuthbert%27.

    Rozanne Donald
    Director of ICT | Curriculum Manager
    St Cuthbert's College

    For me, the key phrase here is that devices don't shift pedagogy. They might prompt teachers to consider that there may be an alternative way to go about an activity, but for deep change to occur, we know, from Timperley et al. (BES, 2007) that there are many complex variables that must play a part in effective, sustained professional learning.

  • Carolyn Stuart (View all users posts) 20 Jul 2011 12:43pm ()

    Great to see a post about the problems that occur when teachers simply replicate the non-digital world onto computers. There is no point in any digital technology if it does not offer something more and with greater pedagogical relevance and engagement than pen/paper/book technology.

    One of the things that excites me greatly about Apps like Googledocs and MyPortfolio is that they enable us to operate differently - they enhance collaboration and enable people to learn in different ways. There are things we do in Googledocs and MyPortfolio that I have no idea how you would replicate in the non-digital world. Finally getting somewhere...

  • Fastpaddy (View all users posts) 25 Jul 2011 11:16am ()

    Following on from what Carolyn and Rozanne have stated - the effective integration of technology in to teaching and learning requires us to change the way we have tradionally approached our teaching, this is especially so for secondary school teachers. It is not just about ICT skills but about ICT competencies, e.g. not "How do I use a blog", but "How do I use a blog to improve reading comprehension or creative writing". The thing is, teachers need to be asking these sort of questions. How will the technology impact on the learning? What needs to change in my approach/methods to make the technology successful? What technology/tools are relevant to me, my subject and my students? Are there exemplars of good practice I can refer to?

    Schools which have leaders who are prompting and challenging their teachers to ask these questions, and are aware that placing ICT over the top of traditional methods is not good enough, are the ones where we are seeing positive change. The digital divide in education is not just about who has access to devices, but who is truly changing their pedagogy to reflect the needs of the 21st century. Teachers who are reluctant to change (learn) have no longer any business in the class room because they are not modelling "Life long learning".

  • Carolyn Stuart (View all users posts) 25 Jul 2011 2:32pm ()

    Couldn't agree more about the need for 21st century classrooms to be led by 21st century teachers who 'get' the technology.

    I've been thinking about the notion of life-long learning. I rarely meet an educator who isn't a life long learner.  The kicker is though what are these life-long learners continuing to learn? Many continue to learn about the practices from the past rather than the practices which are going to empower our future.

    It use to be that we jsutified focussing on the past as a way to give sense and understanding to the future. I don't think this argument holds water anymore. The rate of change has increased so much over recent times that learning about the past is irrelevant when making sense of the future.

    We need to encourage our life long learners to be future-focussed life long learners, who are willing to walk away from the good practies of the past and step into the digital world.

  • Marielle Lange (View all users posts) 26 Jul 2011 1:15pm ()

    For fun, how a UK school comes to a stop when the principal decides to have a technology free day: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01299ps/Those_That_Cant_Series_3_Technology/

    As school connectivity progressively improves, how important is it to always have a plan B in case technology fails (i.e., broadband down) for one day? 

  • Marielle Lange (View all users posts) 26 Jul 2011 2:03pm ()

    One issue is access to devices. Another is access to content. 

    More specifically at secondary level, for schools opting for iPads, do you start teaching US Geography and History because more iApps can be found on these topics? 

    As a 21st century teacher, is it okay to be no more than a user of digital content or should you also learn how to create interactive content? Probably not to be expected from every teacher, so as a school, should you care about adding a digital expert to your staff?. (Technicians tend to focus on setting up computers, manage broadband; the management and creation of digital content is a different type of expertise). Is it important to organize yourself as a community of practice to plan the design of custom digital/interactive resources? Or is it better to follow the US model and give access to e-learning a courses offered by external providers?

  • Enabling e-Learning (View all users posts) 27 Jul 2011 9:18am ()

    Agree with your comments, Carolyn and Fastpaddy, re: the need for a pedagogical shift, which in many ways in not about the technoogy at all but about being flexible and responsive enough to one's students to choose the best resources for ther learning.

    I think Marielle's point is interesting - content creation and resource development is an issue that can be enhanced by technology but shouldn't be at the mercy of it. I think the value in professional learning sits within communities of practice that can respond to localised need (as opposed to what certain software companies can provide;-).  Tapping into online learning courses can be useful but professional learning that brings about the kinds of shifts Fastpaddy and Carolyn refer to need to be embedded in whole school initiatives.

  • Diane Mills (View all users posts) 27 Jul 2011 11:32am ()

    Changing teaching practice is a difficult issue to address and one that is evolving all too slowly in some sectors.  In a recent video I watched, Sir Ken Robinson described the rate of change as 'glacial'!  Are we tackling the problem from an all too common stand point of shifting teachers practice in ICT, rather than the pedagogy - and some of you have mentioned this already.  If 21st Century educational ideals require teachers to be facilitators rather than content providers, then the challenge should be given to the students.  I am thinking of the following questions that subject teachers ought to be asking their students:

    • What is important to know about this topic?
    • How can you find this information?
    • How can you craft the information into a way that crystallizes the information for you and enables it to be shared with others?
    • What next steps are there from this?  How could this learning be used in new ways?

    These sorts of questions then give a sense of 'freedom' to the student to choose the technology that best suits them, rather than the teacher deciding what they ought to be using.  Sure some students will need to be 'scaffolded' to make best use of their time and technology.

    Having been a teacher for many years I know that work needs to be done to even get students to 'base one' as it were.  And here I believe is the sticking point, suddenly teachers feel they haven't the time to explore what might appear to them to be 'loose' questions and to manage students through the thinking and technology needed to get underway.  To meet external deadlines of assessment etc, they fall back to their usual method of teaching the content within a set timeframe in a 'one size fits all' manner.  Changes therefore need to be made to assessment schedules and to the number of assessments required.  And changes need to be made at the community level as well.

  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 27 Jul 2011 4:52pm ()

    I agree that scaffolding thinking is vital, Diane. I've just finished writing an NCEA unit (Level 2) and have used SOLO taxonomy for the first time at this level (previously I used Bloom's). Regardless of the taxonomy, though, having a visible structure to articulate the aims of teachers' and students' learning activities is really useful - then the technology can be selected to appropriately suit the intentions. The schedules follow from there.

    I have wandered away from the focus of the thread here, thoughWink

  • Carolyn Stuart (View all users posts) 27 Jul 2011 10:39am ()

    Is it only adults in a school that can create and contribute digital content?

  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 27 Jul 2011 4:57pm ()

    Of course, content creation is a shared endeavour ideally, Carolyn:-)  And I think the technology can mediate this experience really well. The research from the Manaiakalani Cluster explored ways in which the technology to which they had access really supported students' content creation in ways that were motivating and encouraged persistence and rigour. But there will always be times when teachers might work together as a shared community of professionals, too.

    Enjoying this exchange, by the way, folks:)

  • Marielle Lange (View all users posts) 27 Jul 2011 5:42pm ()

    Would involving students help their learning (construction or solidification) and increase quality? There is plenty of evidence on the web that it can if well managed.

    For instance, schools that get their students contribute to wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:School_and_university_projects

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e-Learning: Leadership

e-Learning: Leadership

Exploring leadership for change, vision, policy and strategy that integrates ICTs into learning.