I’m currently working to two deadlines – the first is as response to the Ministry of Education’s current RFP for professional learning and development services, in particular the section on developing e-Learning capability. The second is my preparation for ULearn – the annual event where teachers share the exciting things they are doing in classrooms to improve learning for students using ICTs.
As I do so, my mind is pondering the tension that exists between, on the one hand, an RFP that focuses on the deficit thinking in our system – of how to address the needs of who aren’t achieving etc. – and on the other hand, the coming together of inspiring teachers who are doing inspiring things with students in classrooms across our nation. I’m left with two images – one of high levels of need and under-performance, and the other of high levels of innovation, engagement and achievement.
It’s always difficult to quantify such things – particularly if your primary focus is in just one of those areas. If, for instance, I only focused on the twitter feeds I receive daily from teachers around NZ, or read the blog posts from the same group, it would be easy for me to assume that education in NZ is in good heart. But reading some of the MoE reports and the interpretation of these in things like the current RFP paints a different picture.
So it was with interest that I viewed the infographic that has been created by GOOD and Design Language, in partnership with University of Phoenix, based on a report released earlier this year titled “Teachers’ Use of Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools,” May 2010 National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.
The report is actually based on a subset of national data collected from surveys conducted at the district, school, and teacher levels. The data presents results from the teacher level survey, including:
- information on the use of computers and Internet access in the classroom;
- availability and use of computing devices and software, teachers’ use of school or district networks (including remote access);
- students’ use of educational technology;
- teachers’ preparation to use educational technology for instruction; and
- technology-related professional development activities
The infographic is interesting at a range of levels (as is the report) – but the thing that stood out for me is what is reported about the % of teachers reporting that their students use ICTs frequently for various activities. At the highest end of reported ICT use was:
- Learning or practising basic skills (69%)
- Research (66%)
- Written text (61%)
In other words, the majority of use is for drill and practice, searching the web (or possibly CD-based encyclopedias?) and word processing. No change here from what we were doing in the 80s – and still struggling to make it to two thirds of the total.
At the other end of the scale I find;
- Designing and developing a product (13%)
- Contributing to blogs and wikis (9%)
- Using a social networking site (7%)
Now I know that this report is from a survey of schools in the US, and not NZ – but it has me thinking all the same. I wonder what the figures would be for NZ? As I prepare for ULearn I look at the number of workshops being run for teachers by teachers on the use of blogs and wikis, and about how the use of social networking tools and applications is now widespread among our student population (at least, out of school that is) -I just wonder how representative this is of what is happening at a system-wide level? I get very encouraged when I view the list of blogs, wikis and podcasts from NZ educators on the NZEdublogs Wiki – but realise this is still just a small slice of our teaching population.
I’m left with the feeling – ICTs represent such a huge investment (in both in terms of $$$ and time), and also such a huge potential (as yet unrealised it would seem). Seems we still have a lot of work to do. Hopefully the fires that are ignited at ULearn will go some way towards tipping the balance.