Every month or so, the ICT committee at The International School of Monaco meets to discuss all things ICT related. The meetings are (as far as meetings go) always enjoyable. They are progressive, forward thinking and normally focus on what the most important aspect of any school should be; learning.
The most recent meeting followed this pattern. @JenOFee and myself presented our major findings from this years BETT show. The Prezi itself was very specific to ISM, so I won’t bore you with that, however the last slide is worth mentioning. In it I detailed some key points – they were:
- ISM is facing in the right direction, but we have to keep on walking
- Multitude of fantastic resources out there; we must choose wisely
- Professional development is imperative to the success of ICT at ISM
- To move forward we have to improve our infrastructure (wifi, bandwith etc)
- Technology is NOT going to disappear, rather it will become ever more prevalent in education
It is the last point that I would like to discuss now; the fact that technology is here to stay. No one with any credibility, in any sector, can doubt the ever-gaining prevalence ICT plays in our society. For example, right now I am having a conversation on Facebook Messenger on Android, whilst writing a blog article on my Macbook at the same time as watching Bradford vs Swansea on my iPad through a VPN connection thrown onto my television via Apple TV. Nothing other than a normal Sunday afternoon, nothing novel whatsoever.
Nevertheless, during the aforementioned ICT meeting, a questions was raised after myself and @ISMscience introduced the awesome iTunesU & iBooks author: “That looks great, but when will the novelty wear off?”
The question demonstrates the misconception of technology; that it is a novelty. I mean, when schools order science texts books, is their novelty time-frame questioned? I’d like to hazard a guess that is isn’t and if it was, the answer would be weeks, if not days. Furthermore, what may seem novel to older generations is normality to todays children. The science books created on iBook Author by @ISMscience are a case in point. They contained stunning HD images, video content and other multimedia. Therefore, I suppose, they are more ‘novel’ than their text book equivalent. However, their real value lies not in their novelty value but in the fact they are relevant, customizable, inituitive and frankly what our learners deserve; teachers using technology to maximise their learning experience.
In Monaco certainly, most children over ten have smartphones. Whether this is a good thing or not is not todays argument, moreover this point details what our children are used to, what they expect. They are used to watching and learning through video, they are used to reading digital content, they are used to being able to ascertain knowledge at the touch of a button. Therefore, handing them a monologue, paper text book is simply irrelevant and out of date. Indeed, from my experience of text book based learning and the text books I have chanced upon, they are also enough to put them off a subject for life.
ICT (can we still use that term?) in schools is not a novelty; it is here to stay. The BYOiPad scheme, that is now in its third year at ISM, highlights this point precisely. During the first week, the Y6 students eagerly awaited instruction to use their iPads, clearly enjoying ‘the novelty’ of using their devices, in school, for the first time. Now, the iPads are charged, packed and ready on their desks as a matter of course. They are simply seen as an essential part of the day to day learning process in a 21st Century School. As they move into Middle and Secondary School, it would be completely illogical for them to suddenly leave the iPads at home and revert to mundane text book studying. Fundamentally, it would be doing our learners a disservice. Instead, they should be using their iPads (or whatever technology is best suited at that point in time to enhance the learning experience) to log onto their iTunes U course and access the accompanying engaging, relevant and personalised iBook.
With new technologies, there will always be a natural amount of novelty attached. Any educator who uses technology purely for this reason should reconsider doing so. Any educator who harnesses the power of technologies, new or old, and uses it to ensure learners are motivated, captivated, involved and empowered in their learning should rest assured that their students will, one day, thank them for it.