ICT Matters – Outcomes…

Last time I attended some non-BETT related CPD in the UK, it concerned how to make an effective shrine in the classroom! Thankfully, in my new dwellings at King’s Rochester, there is no need for a shrine, yet there is a need for development and progression; this was reaffirmed at the EdExec ICT Matters conference in Islington on Wednesday.

However, unlike recent exciting trips to BETT, or teachmeets that have left me inspired, I did not leave the conference with a list of must-have Apps or creative ideas to experiment with in the classroom. Instead, I left with some very useful information about a variety of, well, ICT Matters!

First, we enjoyed a revealing keynote speech from Ofsted’s David Brown, the chief HMI for ICT. Now, on paper this probably sounds as exciting as watching paint dry but in reality, it was very informative. We learnt what both outstanding and unsatisfactory looked like from an Ofsted point of view. In fact, it was refreshing to hear that “There isn’t a right or a wrong way, rather it depends on your outcomes”. Too often do we get caught up in debates about iPads vs laptops, or IOS vs Windows. Every school is different. What works in one, may not work in another. Effectiveness is what really counts. If Ofsted are open minded about this then all the better. However, Mr Brown also stated that a school could be judged as ‘outstanding´, despite having no ICT! In this day and age, I find that ridiculous.

Of particular interest was the next seminar “Ensuring effective tablet implementation”, led by Valerie Thompson, chief executive of the e-learning foundation. Although I have direct experience of rolling out iPads, the context in Monte Carlo was very different. Students were from very affluent families and, after a survey, I discovered over 95% of them had personal iPads that they were willing to bring to school; the ISM BYOiPad scheme was born. Things are different in the UK, although tablets are becoming more common, a recent study suggested only 31.3% of the UK population were regular tablet users and certainly, that will differ greatly in each school. Therefore, a different strategy to any potential tech roll-out at my new school would be required and this seminar gave a great overview. High up the priority list was infrastructure; future proofed, scaleable WiFi. This is something we are seriously investigating at King’s and will underpin any successful future tech roll out.

Next up was, “The Ethics of BYOD: how they will impact your approach”, presented by Steve Warburton (@stevewn). BYOD has many fans and many critics, again though, the outcome of any given project is what really matters. For example, our BYOiPad scheme in Monaco was (and still is) hugely successful. It was underpinned with rigorous policies that were clearly spelt out to the students, furthermore E-Safety was prioritised within the curriculum. We developed a culture in which children knew their boundaries and rarely crossed them. On those occasions that problems did occur, they were quickly picked up on and dealt with. The children knew that they were responsible for the success of the initiative and responded accordingly. The outcomes by which we measured the success were the ingenuity, creativity, application and E-awareness of technology by our students . Back to BYOD itself, whether we follow a similar path at King’s is a discussion for the future, but if we do the tips and questions provided by Mr Warburton could prove to be invaluable.

Finally, “New approaches to ed-tech procurement” by Crispin Weston (@crispinweston) provided plenty of food for thought. He argued that many current theories of ed-tech and technology-enhanced learning are not working as well as they might and therefore we may need to think again. However, in my mind the theme of ‘different horses for different courses’ cropped up again. For every school that has an iPad scheme that has boosted creative opportunities, student moral and whole-school workflow, there is one in which all the iPads have been broken and the schools budget is deep in the red.

As far as I am concerned there is NO argument against having ICT taught in UK schools. My theory therefore, would be that the secret to success of tech adoption is an open and agreed vision of tech deployment and outcomes. This requires detailed, contextualised planning that considers the expertise and needs of staff and students and thankfully that is something we are in the process of undertaking at King’s. How that success is measured however, is an entirely different matter. The ‘outcomes’ that  David Brown spoke of were never quantified, and the fact that schools with no tech could be judged as outstanding suggests they are probably more likely to be based on SATs/GCSE or A-Level results rather than anything else.

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