Monthly Archives: December 2015

Ofsted warns against “extremely disruptive” tablets in school

An “Ofsted Spokesperson” told TES recently that personally owned devices such as laptops or tablets can be “extremely disruptive” and make it difficult for teachers to teach. Oh really? What about all the school-owned devices such as laptops or tablets that are routinely dished out in class for pupils to work on? What is it about ownership that makes some devices disruptive and others not?

The whole issue of ownership is itself an “extremely disruptive” distraction to the #EdTech debate. As Bananarama didn’t say, “it’s not what you use, it’s the way that you use it”. Pencil and paper was once a disruptive innovation (remember slate and chalk?), but seems to be nicely embedded these days. So with desk top PCs, laptop PCs, interactive whiteboards, and now mobile tablets.

Are medical professionals expected to practise using woefully outdated technologies, like leeches, when everyone knows there is a better way? Why must central government policy and agencies be so determined to lock education in the past?

Technology is not a panacea for all the issues in education. It will not raise standards in teaching simply by being present in classrooms – and the same can be said of text books, slide rules and pocket calculators. Children need to be taught how – and when – to use them appropriately. We live in technological times. Not to teach children these life skills is to do them a gross disservice. And if we as pedagogical professionals take a little time to learn how to use them creatively ourselves then the potential for genuine learning gains is huge. Just take a few moments to look at some of the submission videos for Naace‘s 3rd Millennium Learning Award.

Let’s agree, for the sake of argument, that technology, when used appropriately by pupils guided by well-informed and well-trained teachers, is a good thing. What about cost? This where the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Buy Everyone a New Device (BEND) debate is located. Technology is expensive. Schools’ budgets are tightening, and cuts are being made. How long can even the best-intentioned school SLT justify BEND? Children take their own mobile devices to school everyday. They just do. Usually, to comply with school policy, they remain in pupils’ pockets, switched off. What a waste of resource. If parents bought their offspring the latest text books every year, would they remain in pupils’ bags, untouched?

BYOD is not easy. There need to be sensible policies at local level. There needs to be filtering and sufficient access to wifi. There need to be suitable sanctions to deal with inappropriate use of devices. There needs to be BEND provision for those pupils that do not have access to tech of their own.

These are not insurmountable issues. Once solved – and the solutions will vary from school to school – children need to be taught how to access their tech wisely by teachers who have received top quality CPD in how tech can be used creatively to impact positively on learning.

Organisations like TCSC and Naace can help. Contact them for advice on procurement and access to CPD.

Apple, Naace and Tech in Education

This Guest Post is written by Roger Broadie, Naace Fellow and Naace Lead for 3rd Millennium Learning.
New Naace Logo Generic
Naace very much welcomes Apple’s involvement in the Hour of Code and it is good to see

the BBC covering stories like this as the message needs to be spread much more widely and publicly. 

But it is very disappointing that the BBC continues to use highly simplistic statements about the OECD report.The OECD report does not say that there is no link between the use of technology and learning. The headline announcement on the report starts with the statements “Schools have yet to take advantage of the potential of technology in the classroom to tackle the digital divide and give every student the skills they need in today’s connected world,” and three paragraphs later states “Overall, students who use computers moderately at school tend to have somewhat better learning outcomes than students who use computers rarely. But students who use computers very frequently at school do much worse, even after accounting for social background and student demographics.”

This matches well what Naace members see hapening in schools. Good teaching cannot be replaced by having pupils taught by computers, but used well technology can have a major positive impact on teaching and learning. Technology for example strongly supports the top three ways to improve learning as shown by research, providing better feedback to students, peer tutoring and metacognition (learning to learn) which can now all be extended beyond classrooms into pupils’ whole lives.

We would be very pleased to help the BBC to gain a much more intelligent understanding of how technology should be used in education, and to help them learn from those schools doing this well, such as the hundreds of schools that have the Naace ICT Mark and the Naace Third Millennium Learning Award.

The iPad Pro – what’s all the fuss about?

IMG_9358The all new and very, very shiny iPad Pro is, like all Apple devices, drop-dead gorgeous. But at TCSC we have a question that we ask of all technologies, whether they be hardware, software or peripherals: “so what?” That is, what impact will this have on children’s learning? It’s not about how cool or shiny the gadget is, or how much we want one – without quite being able to say why. It’s about the impact it will have on children’s learning – when it’s use is facilitated by a well-informed and creative teacher.

Fortunately for us, @ICTEvangelist has taken a long hard look at iPad Pro and blogged about it here. TCSC still wants one, and now we know why.

Windows 10 and Bing

Does anyone use Bing for anything other than finding Google?

TCSC was recently “upgraded” to Windows 10 (we use the term in it’s loosest sense). If you choose to do this, you may find that Windows 10 forces another “upgrade” to Office 2016. Please contact TCSC for advice on how to reconfigure your keyboard from US back to UK, should it be necessary to do so.

Edge is Microsoft’s new browser, developed to replace Internet Explorer, but other brands are available and they can easily be added to your start menu and pinned to your task bar. If you just want Internet Explorer (IE) back, it’s buried in ‘accessories’ within your start menu.

Speaking of the start menu, if we wanted Windows 8 we’d have bought it, right? Why sneak it into the start screen for Windows 10? Free-to-download software is available to give you back your Windows 7-ish start menu.

But back to Bing. This is Microsoft’s search engine, and plenty of folk have their own opinions about it. If you like it, fine. If you don’t, too bad. You’re kind of stuck with it in Edge or IE. If you like Bing, be aware that if you use the Cortana search bar in Windows 10 to search for personal files or folders on your PC, the information will automatically be sent to the Microsoft servers to get you better results in Bing searches. Microsoft itself tells you how to disable Bing (and Cortana) here. But it’ll still be there should you choose to use Edge or IE as your preferred browser. Fortunately, there are easy-to-follow instructions on how to add other search engines to IE and remove Bing here.

TCSC has also had issues with the way Windows 10 users are now expected to read, print and manage pdfs and images. We will post again in event of a breakthrough.

That said, Windows 10 does have some nice features. Just be prepared to dedicate time and effort to ironing out some very frustrating wrinkles.