It was @DobeLou
who tweeted one Sunday morning ‘Forward not backward in ICT’ with a link to her article by the same title. http://bit.ly/90AaWg
. It is a phrase that echoes my own sentiments and, I feel certain, the sentiments of many others involved in ICT or Educational Technology in England.
You will notice that I say, England, in the previous paragraph, I do so without any intentional slight to colleagues in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland; I’m simply not sure what the situation is in those areas, with their different funding and organisational arrangements. I daresay, there are concerns there too but, initially anyway, the cuts seem to have hit English education hardest.
Currently, there is an atmosphere akin to despair mixed with confusion. Having pressed forward for many years in developing ICT and the use of technology in education, the country seems to be plunged suddenly backward by decisions (some might add indecisions) and actions taken by the new government.
Initially, it was claimed that the actions were taken owing to the financial situation left by the previous government. However, it soon became evident that the actions were based on other reasons. Money previously earmarked for school ICT was diverted to other areas, not quite sure how that ‘saved’ money, and it became clear that the new government had no policy position regarding supporting education with technology.
There are, however, hundreds of us at all levels of the profession who know and believe in the power and place of education technology. It is down to us to continue to press and support the work of ICT in education, to continue to demonstrate its effectiveness and to continue to explore new potential that it opens up.
I recall the very early days of educational computing, when no one believed in the place of computers in the classroom save for a few ‘pioneers’ and forward thinking ‘whizzkids’. It was a time when those of us who were ‘early’ adopters of the idea, would meet with fellow enthusiasts to share and discuss what we felt would be a revolution in education, (we were careful not to use such terms though). Perhaps now is the time to return to such an approach and the building blocks are already there via the Teachmeet movement, so long as we can get out of the ‘echo chamber’ and get our message across to a wider audience.
There are many aspects of educational technology nowadays that are different from those days in the 1980s when enthusiasts were meeting to share and to discuss ways forward. The biggest difference is that we now have a body of evidence on both good and poor practice in the use of educational technology. This has been built up over the intervening years and we can now use this evidence to justify our use of educational technology.
A problem remains, however, that all this evidence has never been fully collected and collated. Much of it exists in musty archives or in the minds and personal records of individuals. It would seem that now is the perfect time to attempt to draw this evidence together and to create a solid foundation of evidence upon which to base future development of educational technology.
To my mind, it would not matter that some of this evidence could support one particular approach to educational technology while other pieces of evidence could be used to support a different approach. Educational technology can be both versatile and embracing; it can be used in support of a range of pedagogies. It is not necessary for us to have a common vision, just a common desire to make best use of the technologies.
It is my firm belief that a future education system without the use of educational technology would be both poor and wrong. The only people to suffer in such a system would be the learners and the only people to benefit would be … well, really, I don’t think anyone would benefit!
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