Further Thoughts on ICT in Education

When we were looking at new construction at two of our campuses, and the launch of the Mindspark Maths programme, it gave us the opportunity to evaluate where we are regarding use of ICT in education in the school and where the school wants to go during the next couple of years. This built on to earlier evaluation that started four years ago.

Back then, we realized that if we wanted to move education in the school fully in to the twenty first century then we had to address IT in a big way. The PC access for administrative staff was pretty high, for teachers was reasonable, but for students was far lower than we would want. Also, the overall network infrastructure required a major overhaul. A new server farm was set up at SRF Head Office with some heavy investment in back end resources. Then, over time we sought to move more teachers on to laptops for greater flexibility reducing the reliance upon PCs in staff rooms.

We put in more labs, but were very clear that we didn’t want the new approach to be only reliant upon labs. Today, technology comes to us and goes with us, we don’t go to a special room to access it. That said, on all three campuses, the size and configuration of classrooms was a limiting factor. So, we set out on a path to a hybrid model in which there are labs, but in addition some IT resources to be made available in every room.

This has included wiring up existing and new classrooms for network connectivity (2 live + 2 redundant for now) on a rolling basis. This was the preferred route because of the uncertainties that exist on wi-fi for both security and children’s health. Also, this year has seen the introduction of trolley mounted tablets at both Vasant Vihar and Phase III, creating a mobile lab that comes to the classroom, particularly for Mindspark (here we have to use some limited wi-fi).

Plainly, putting IT technology in to every classroom has cultural and behavioural implications – teachers are working on these. When such expensive equipment is accessible in every classroom it changes certain paradigms around security, trust and responsible student behaviour in classrooms during unsupervised periods in the day.

The arrival of IT in every classroom raises new issues as well as opportunities for the teachers about how to make the fullest use of these machines to contribute to effective, creative and imaginative lessons. So, I was very happy to come across this article which sets out some really nice ideas about how to make the most of having one or two computers in a classroom:

Edweek Article on Using ICT in the Classroom

The article includes extensive lists of software that can be used to support classroom learning. What really appeals to me most about so much of this technology is that firstly it’s vital that we provide the children with meaningful engagement with technology to actually achieve real, worthwhile outcomes (as opposed to their timepass leisure use!). Secondly, the technology lends itself so strongly to learner-centric, differentiated learning – moving away from teacher centric delivery of factual knowledge in the old, traditional way.

Finally, here’s another interesting article looking at the value and benefits of utilizing ICT to develop and support learning:

E School News Article on Expert Evaluation of ICT for Learning


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