Educational Change and ICT

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Seems like a good time to catch up on my reading at the moment
– this time another BECTA report that was released at the end of last year, but somehow slipped under the radar. The Eductional Change and ICT report (available as a 2Mb pdf file) makes for some very interesting reading. One review summarises:

The key to successful implementation of the e-strategy is primarily about people and change management rather than the technology, according to the e-Strategy Implementation Review conducted for Becta.from Ferl website

Although commissioned as a review of two of the priorities within the DfES strategy in the UK, there’s plenty in this report to inform policy and strategy work in any country – including NZ!

Besides the overwhelming conclusion that the focus needs to be on people and the management of change – two underlying issues caught my eye.

The first is vision. According to the report the researchers encountered a wide range of views about why we’re using ICTs in education, with no clear or consistent vision articulated or seen to be driving things. Differences exist between those who are advocating the use of ICTs to make our existing (19th century) model of education more efficient, to those who see ICTs as a driver for change to develop a truly 21st century model of education. This being the case it becomes very difficult to provide any sort of evaluation of the contribution of ICTs to education.

The second issue is shared vocabulary. This follows from the first issue of vision really, but in more detail. The researchers found a diverse range of opinions and ideas relating to much of the terminology used to share ideas and understandings about what we are doing. Although terms such as VLE, portfolio, MIS etc were being used by most groups, there is no shared understanding about what they actually refer to or mean. The consequence is a lot of “talking past each other”

The report unpacks in considerable detail a whole range of other issues that are worth reading and considering – such as the lack of support for assistive technologies, the lack of integration and interoperability among various school management systems, and the gaps between promise and practice when it comes to the use of mobile technologies in schools.

I’ve had a few email exchanges recently with one of the report’s authors, Peter Twining, from whom I’ve gleaned a number of extra insights about the report. There’s an excellent podcast interview from Leon Cych at Learn4Life with Peter Twining available here on the Moodlea blog that is worth listening to.

Certainly plenty here to fuel the fires of thought over the next little while – too much to include in one blog post, so look for more to come.

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