/ Schools and IT equipment

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EeeByGum - on 16 Nov 2012
Just seen this

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-20348322

Could someone please explain to my why computers are a necessary part of learning? And yes, I am aware that I am sounding like an old fuddy duddy.
timjones - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

I'm afraid I can't answer that. I must be an old fuddy duddy as well ;)

I love IT but believe that it should only be introduced once you understand the underlying tasks.
Rollo - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

Can anyone tell me why Powerpoint is a necessary part of giving client presentations?

It isn't. It's just a tool. As are computers, tablets, chalk boards, whiteboards and smartboards.

It's what you do with 'em stupid!

I think this article is saying what's the point of having all this tech (how I hate that word!) if you're not going to use it properly?
Scarab9 - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

I dunno...possibly that the majority of people use them for their job and that those who proudly claim to be 'technophobes' are a nightmare to train or work with? And even the ones that think they know a fair bit about how to use them often spend hours doing jobs that could be done in seconds with a tiny bit of, say, excel forumula knowledge. Kinda makes it important to have kids used to using them.

Of course that doesn't mean that the people in charge of ordering/providing them or even using them know what they're doing which is why they've got kit they don't need and which doesn't get used, but that's a different arguement.
EeeByGum - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to Rollo:

> It's what you do with 'em stupid!
>
> I think this article is saying what's the point of having all this tech (how I hate that word!) if you're not going to use it properly?

I totally agree. But what exactly do you do? When I was at school, learning a subject involved the teacher tell us stuff, making notes on what the teacher had told us, reading the course text book and then writing essays or doing projects that reinforced what had been learned in class. I can't really see how computers can do a better job at that at all.

We had computer based learning aids and they were always sh1t. If educational learning aids are as good as some of the better internet learning aids, IMO they are still inferior to traditional teaching methods.
Only a hill - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to Scarab9:
> I dunno...possibly that the majority of people use them for their job and that those who proudly claim to be 'technophobes' are a nightmare to train or work with?

I think this is the key. Most white collar jobs rely on computer literacy these days, and this reliance on IT will only increase in the future. We have to raise a generation that is comfortable using technology for creativity, learning, and production, NOT just playing games or watching YouTube at home. This is why a guided learning environment at school is so important when it comes to IT. There are a lot of digital distractions, and kids have to be taught how to ignore them and focus on the task at hand.
Only a hill - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:
When I was at University 2005-08, we were just starting to implement a crude form of social media across the campus. It was used for online collaboration and a whole host of other tasks. It was basic, but a good example of how IT can transform learning and take it beyond note-taking when listening to a teacher. Kids nowadays use the Internet for social purposes, and are very good at it; why not harness that ability for study?
balmybaldwin - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

I think the use of IT and understanding basic software, word processing, spreadsheets etc is a vital thing for young folk to learn, probably after learning about the underlying function i.e. how to write a formal letter, structure a document, draw/understand graphs and tables etc.

The frightening thing as far as I can see is the vast amount of money spent on IT in schools, and the lack of expertise there to teach pupils about it, whilst I'm sure some schools have teachers that are IT aware, and very good, of the three teachers I know well, all of them have problems with shoddy IT support within the school (poor, insecure networks, malfunctioning software due to set-up issues) as well as large numbers of fellow teachers having very little knowledge about computers and their use (including in one case an IT teacher who has to ask my friend (Science) to come and see if he can work out why it won't turn on)

That's not to say teaching is the only profession with this problem - at my company there are plenty of people who also have no idea, and no willingness to try to understand.

Getting kids to understand computers at an early age seems to me to be a very valuable life skill (not important as Maths, English or Science, but very high on the list all the same)
EeeByGum - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to Only a hill:
> Kids nowadays use the Internet for social purposes, and are very good at it; why not harness that ability for study?

Because if you sit a class full of kids in front of a PC with the task of researching the Romans, 70% will instantly log onto Facebook, 20% will end up looking at Trip Advisor pages for hotels in Rome and the other 10% might be able to find some vaguely useful but irrelevant pages on the Romans. And there is the nub. There is so much information at your finger tips that getting an overview is often very difficult.

Teaching kids to filter this information is kind of irrelevant when at the end of the day the goal is to learn a specific subject. I can't help thinking that IT is often a distraction away from the core of what education is actually about.

<old fuddy duddy alert>The premise "kids are technology savy therefore we must use technology in order for them to learn efficiently" doesn't wash with me I am afraid.</fuddy duddy>
EeeByGum - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to balmybaldwin:

> Getting kids to understand computers at an early age seems to me to be a very valuable life skill (not important as Maths, English or Science, but very high on the list all the same)

Agreed - but I am not really talking about teaching kids to use computers - that is now part of their genetics from birth. More using them as a learning aid for traditional subjects.
Luke90 on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:
> Because if you sit a class full of kids in front of a PC with the task of researching the Romans, 70% will instantly log onto Facebook, 20% will end up looking at Trip Advisor pages for hotels in Rome and the other 10% might be able to find some vaguely useful but irrelevant pages on the Romans. And there is the nub. There is so much information at your finger tips that getting an overview is often very difficult.

Which is precisely why a good teacher wouldn't just set them loose on the computers with an instruction as vague as "research the Romans". Incidentally, almost every school in the country will have Facebook (and other social networking sites) completely blocked.

> Teaching kids to filter this information is kind of irrelevant when at the end of the day the goal is to learn a specific subject.

I think this is the root of your issue with IT, you seem to have a very narrow view of the purpose of education. It comes back to the old classic student line of "when am I ever going to need to know this, sir?". Though a teacher would never say it, the answer in a lot of cases would probably be "never (in a direct and literal sense)". The cognitive skills and the practice in how to actually learn something are at least as important as a lot of the actual information that is imparted in schools.

> <old fuddy duddy alert>The premise "kids are technology savy therefore we must use technology in order for them to learn efficiently" doesn't wash with me I am afraid.</fuddy duddy>

<pedantry>Your tags don't match</pedantry>
I don't actually think that is the premise, generally. I think it could better be stated as "technology is ubiquitous in the modern world and modern workplaces, so students must leave schools with the ability to use and apply technology in as wide a range of contexts as possible".
Luke90 on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:
> Agreed - but I am not really talking about teaching kids to use computers - that is now part of their genetics from birth.

I think you'd be surprised. Sure, almost every kid uses a mouse like an extension of their own body and will merrily navigate through websites but a huge number of students are still fairly weak in important skills eg. structuring a good search query to find what they need.
snoop6060 - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

Because you will pretty much go nowhere in life if you cannot use a computer these days. Sad but true.

dissonance - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

> Could someone please explain to my why computers are a necessary part of learning?

learning in general i take it?
Just like for any other use properly used they will help but, again like everything else, if used for the sake of using it then it wont.

Irk the Purist - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

It says technology, not just computers.

You can't deny that, for example, an interactive whiteboard isn't a huge improvement over a revolving black board and chalk, or even a whiteboard.

Edradour - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:

I think there are a couple of issues here:

1. Are computers/technology essential to learning?
2. Is equipment being properly used?

In response to the first point I don't think that computers are necessarily 'essential' to learning but they can improve the imparting of knowledge (to use a slightly pretentious phrase). Forty years ago teachers didn't use tvs and videos as part of the teaching process but used correctly, they can add to the experience. We are at the same point now with different technology. I think the point about the interactive white board is important. What teachers shouldn't do is rely on technology to teach (eg powerpoint). There are schools near us who insist that pupils have ipads / iphones etc and I think this is ridiculous.

The second point is difficult to quantify and instrinsically linked to point 1. If they aren't being used then the headteacher should ensure that they are and not shy away from technology because 'it's not how we used to do it' etc.
andy - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to EeeByGum: At my daughter's secondary school every pupil has a netbook. They se them for research, producing essays, presentations, the teachers set tests online, the kids research stuff...

All social networking is blocked. They're not even allowed to turn mobile phones on during school hours, so they're not spending ANY time dicking about on the web.

They have technology pretty much at the heart of everything they do - they're a specialist engineering (all girls) school and produce outstanding results. I suspect they'd do pretty well with a wax tablet and a blackboard - but the technology is a huge facilitator.
EeeByGum - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to Luke90:
> but a huge number of students are still fairly weak in important skills eg. structuring a good search query to find what they need.

Ha ha. Nice one. I thought you were going to say "e.g. being able to write a coherent sentence with basic grammar like capitalisation" :-)
marsbar - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to EeeByGum: Start by blocking Facebook, and by having the kids trained to do as they are told. Why print textbooks when the information can be accessed online? I use IT a lot in school but it doesn't mean I expect the students to do what they feel like. Properly used they can get immediate feedback on maths questions, instead of waiting for books to be marked. Why not teach them to use Excel to handle data?
Jim Hamilton - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to marsbar:
> Why print textbooks when the information can be accessed online?

but isn't it easier to learn/revise from a text book than trying to access information and learn online ?
marsbar - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to Jim Hamilton: Not really. The information is structured like in a text book, but with links to different pages. The revision can be done as a mixture of reading and questions, just like in a book, but with the scores from each pupil recorded, so I have an instant overview of progress and effort from each pupil. Work from different levels is more easily available so that students struggling with a topic can use easier work to catch up. Some videos are used to demonstrate skills in a much clearer way than can be shown in pictures.
marsbar - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to marsbar: Also it saves carrying heavy books around.
timjones - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to Eric the Red:
> (In reply to EeeByGum)
>
> It says technology, not just computers.
>
> You can't deny that, for example, an interactive whiteboard isn't a huge improvement over a revolving black board and chalk, or even a whiteboard.

Surely a blackboard is more reliable, cheaper to purchase/run and easier on the environment?

timjones - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to marsbar:
> (In reply to marsbar) Also it saves carrying heavy books around.

Are the youth of today really that lazy?
Jim Hamilton - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to marsbar:
> (In reply to marsbar) Also it saves carrying heavy books around.

Isn't that the truth of it - convenience. I wonder why our "local" grammar school issues its children with maths textbooks, but the comprehensive doesn't.
sargy - on 17 Nov 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:
As a primary teacher (who feels ICT is NOT adequately funded) I feel that ICT has deeply and profoundly changed the very nature of knowledge transfer and access to learning. Yes, there is a lot of dross on the internet, but it is also now a vast repository of information just waiting to be tapped into. ICT can also make learning experiential, active and fun- I'm from a generation that learnt everything by rote, and the power that ICT has as a tool to teachers to engage hard-to-reach children really shouldn't be under-estimated. And this is coming from someone who is passionate about learning outside the classroom and as much interaction with nature as possible!
Robert Durran - on 17 Nov 2012
In reply to EeeByGum:
> Agreed - bt I am not really talking about teaching kids to use computers - that is now part of their genetics from birth.

I really, really hate the completely inappropriate overuse of that metaphor and its variants.
Robert Durran - on 17 Nov 2012
In reply to Luke90:
> It comes back to the old classic student line of "when am I ever going to need to know this, sir?". Though a teacher would never say it, the answer in a lot of cases would probably be "never (in a direct and literal sense)".

I would.
Robert Durran - on 17 Nov 2012
In reply to Eric the Red:
> You can't deny that, for example, an interactive whiteboard isn't a huge improvement over........a whiteboard.

I agree absolutely. They are largely expensive gimmick machines. My ambition is to make it through to retirement without ever using one (not that I would ever manage to work out or remember how to switch one on anyway). You just can't beat the almost limitles flexibility and beautiful simplicity of paper and pencil (or whiteboard and marker).



Muel - on 17 Nov 2012
I'm strongly in favour of IT in education. I'm currently in my final year of uni and everything I do is electronic. I very rarely use pens any more.

The interactive whiteboards are fantastic tools, and nothing like a normal whiteboard, because you can pause and annotate video, move things around the screen, zoom in and out, etc. How often have you been writing and run out of paper/whiteboard space? I'd say at least every time I go near the stuff.

The fact remains though, that school is there to teach skills to children to enable them to become useful adults. IT has rapidly become a huge skillset which they need to learn about. I started using computers when I was about 5, and I strongly wish I'd started sooner.


Mind you, I would say all that, being a Web Developer and all. :P

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