With more and more technology being poured in most schools, the question is what to do with it all? have I missed something? are teachers suddenly proficient in all aspects of the equipment they have in hand?. what about the leadership expectations? what do they want to get from the technology? and one more thing, who decided on the type and nature of the technology chosen? was it a market force? influence from other schools? technical knowledge of the decision maker in the school? cost? BSF inflicted non-negotiable package? or something else?
when it comes to technology in schools, we are still in the "show off" stage, School leaders are always proud to show off the latest technologies they collected, they openly say that they have spent such and such amount of money on new system. some of them write their development plan around the technology, they make the technology as an end not as a mean. This is almost like those schools whose Network Manager dictates what the curriculum should do, and that through laziness the motto of the network team becomes: "if something is not compatible with the network system it should be left alone."
This method puts the technology above the curriculum, it dictates the direction of classroom practices, limits creativity as a result it becomes more of a hindrance than a help, teachers very quickly turn away from it in favour to what they know best or comfortable with.
So the question is how can we make the technology "invisible"?, by that I mean, how can we use it as a mean to an end, how can we make it work for us?
First, there are some simple steps to take:
- you do need a confident network team, people who understand Education and classroom pressures.
- you need a person (coordinator) who has technical knowledge and of course must be a teacher. This post is not suitable for a deputy head teacher or a non teacher. they must be practitioners and have the time to listen to teachers' needs and be able to convert that into action. they also must be able to support teachers and be prepared to lead the network team and make sure they understand is needed from them and the direction they need to take when designing/updating the network.
The Coordinator need to run a tight "Fault" reporting system with rapid turnaround with log keeping. faults must not be repetitive and long term solution need to be a priority.
Finance: this is always a contentious issue, the Coordinator "must" have access to the decision makers and no one should represent them at the table when the budget is being decided. they must have a say in the decision making, as long as they are following the school development plan and priorities as outlined by the headteacher.
That leaves training and innovations. Although this is THE most important part of the equation, it is usually misunderstood, neglected or done half-heartedly just to tick the box. "Continuous training is the key to a confident school.
Over the years I have run countless training sessions to staff, most of them were successful, however some were not, but how do we measure the success or failure of a training programme?
Any training must benefit students directly or indirectly. The majority of CPD or SDD days do not benefit students directly. they are usually reserved to outline the school vision, or policies or some big change but they are also used for "information giving" and paperwork.
The best and most effective training is the one that challenges teachers, boost their confidence and creativity, it is the one that benefits students.
But how can you achieve all that? as I said earlier on, I have done a variety of training strategies, but I come to fine the one that not only hits the above points but changes the whole culture of the school is where staff take the risk in a controlled environment. that is why I came u with the RiskITWeek idea. Already successfully used in many schools, it allows staff to learn new things in the class with students, and if students know how to use the equipment then they become active teachers and learners at the same time.
the RiskIT Strategy (please see full details at www.riskitweek.com ) is much more than just training, it brings teachers, students and leadership team together.