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Prague – conference day 4 June 27, 2008

Posted by davidit in Uncategorized.
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The most common word used in the various conference sessions today was ‘subvert.’ It seems that there is an impatience for change, that we can see change is happening or is about to occur, but it is not happening quickly enough. And much of the day was spent exploring just what the impediments to change might be and how we can facilitate the change, hence the guerilla tactics of subversion.

Many themes appeared again and again. Learning experiences need to be authentic and that students need to have a range of tools to choose from in order to do a set task and in addition they should know which tool is the most appropriate for the task. We have to resist the temptation or pressure to use an expensive ICT tool simply because it is an expensive ICT tool. With regard to pedagogies we discussed a lot about how ICT’s are often imposed onto an existing or traditional pedagogy, with the end result being a bit of a Prince Charles (“Carbunkle on the face of an old friend.”) We also discussed what an ICT pedagogy should look like, but the debate around this ranged around the argument that there is not a pencil pedagogy an OHP pedagogy, rather the environment of learning changes as a result of new technology and therefore the pedagogy that subsequently evolves is not specifically an ICT one.

One of the impediments to effective delivery was the whole permissions issue for users of networks. The managers of networks were likened as “network Nazis” Networks can become so locked down that any creativity is stiffled because of the draconian network security policies. There is a tension between network administrators and their users, there is an adage that goes, ‘this network would run just fine if it were not for those damned users.’ Security on a a network equates to stablility and minimised work load for administrators, but equates to inertia and disenfranchisement for the users. If we want innovation, we have to review the fortress mentality of our networks. I for one have recently gone down this road on our network and have yet to gain the benefits.

The final keynote of the day was a presentation of some research into the effectiveness of IWBs in classrooms. It was a UK government funded project and the findings are really interesting. It was found that in schools where the entire school was equipped with IWBs there was a technology critical mass that encouraged collaborative support amongst colleagues and was a very motivational addition to each classroom, even the teachers who were predicted not to be adopters of the technology found that they became enthusiastic about them in a very short time.

The study followed students in several schools over two years and it was found that the middle to high achieving students made significant progress in their numeracy and literacy attainment compared to students who had not been taught in classes without IWB’s in them. The bottom 20% of students made progress but not at the same rate as the others. It was discussed whether the IWB was actually an impediment to their attainment and the conclusion that has been postulated but has yet to be researched is that these children do not thrive in whole class situations and that it is the learning style and not the technology that is the issue.

With regard to teachers using IWB’s and student attainment, there was a clear relationship. When the board is first installed there is an innovation dip as the teacher gets to grips with using the technology and how to implement the new tool into their classroom practice. What happens is a clear three step process:

  • Teachers fit the new technology into their existing pedagogy
  • Collaborative exploration of new opportunities offered by the new technology
  • Embedding of the technologies into transformed pedagogic practices

It was made clear that it takes a long time up to two years for the full benefits of the IWB and student attainment to be gained as indicated by the results of the research. The conference has been a wonderfully affirming event, we have made some new friends met some really interesting people who are very interested in what Helen and I are doing. It looks as though we will get further follow up as a result of our presentation. The effort of putting a paper together, and of actually getting here has now been completely worth it.



1. Marnie - June 28, 2008

It sounds like you got lots from the conference – the IWB research is particularly interesting and I appreciate you taking the time to blog and share your learning. Perhaps it would be good to grab a copy of that IWB paper if it is published to share with staff/board at school – it affirms the path we are taking and the money spent.
Enjoy the next step of your journey!

2. Artichoke - July 3, 2008

Thanks for posting on the IWG research David, like Marnie I am looking forward to the new thinking about IWB and the other stuff that you will bring back to share with the cluster as a result of this experience …. I am interested in hearing about the conference itself, the diversity of institutions and countries represented and the nature of the academic research in e learning that was talked about

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