Friday, 22 January 2010

Bridging the gap

The multi-faceted nature of a job within the education system can be fraught with many challenges. There are a multitude of different agendas being addressed by specialists, all aimed at maximising the potential of the children and offering them different and exciting experiences. I am one of those specialists, I like to think I have some degree of specialism in ICT and so therefore my agenda is largely technology based. I spend time, and thought into trying to ensure that the technological capability of my work environment is useful and accesssible for all the stakeholders in the school. My frustrations lie not with the hardware or software that I install (even though I sometimes make mistakes), or making it work (this in itself can sometimes be an enigma!) but in the ever increasing knowledge gap that exists between some adults within schools and the students they are helping.
This gap has been my target, I would not force anybody to embrace 21st Century technology, nor would I insist they utilise them in the classroom, but I truly believe that as yet further advances are made in technology, educators need to be aware of and, if appropriate, at least be capable of pointing children towards the tools available.
To this end I have been a staunch supporter, and advocate of the 'converted' (you are probably one if you are reading this) supporting those, who for whatever reason, struggle to access the technology that 21st Century society offers them. For this reason, predominantly, although there are benefits for the children and the school. I decided to offer a free 'Basic ICT Course' to the staff in my school.
I put up a list on the noticeboard, included a brief course outline, and a choice of days (I was going to do an hour a week, for 5 weeks, on a Wednesday or a Thursday). They were to give up their own time and stay late at school, to step outside their comfort zones. CPD is fine when it suits you, but personal sacrifice for CPD can be difficult to buy into. I was amazed, not only was there take up, but I was oversubscribed! Instead of Wednesday OR Thursday, I was having to do both days, 36 people ( a third of the staff), including all the SMT opted in.
I have just finished week two, the altruistic intentions of my actions are supported by a number of staff thanking me for the things they are learning, and putting into practise both at school and at home (I await patiently the arrival of my sainthood or at least a mention in the Queen's Birthday honours list). The ultimate outcomes:
  • Greater confidence in use of ICT across the school.
  • Better support for our students in their use of ICT.
  • Maximised usage of the hardware and software available.
  • A shift towards a 21st Century learning experience for the children.

It has been well received, I have enjoyed the praise that has been offered me and there is a discernable buzz around the staff room regarding ICT generally. Hopefully, despite it being a small step, I am making some inroads into bridging the gap between those who can, and those who want to, embrace the technological era.

1 comment:

  1. I read this comment with interest having followed the link from 4goggas on twitter. very pleased to see how well it is going especially with all the "barriers" you mention. Its very frustrating that we ask professionals to fit in what is such important training around their work. Increasingly so when you wonder who is going to help train me!
    The key thing that you seem to have cracked is getting staff to see that small changes have HUGE impacts and that not all staff feel they are expcted to be expert database/flash/spreadsheet users etc. Many staff who I "train" express dismay when the Skills audit appears as they look at what they dont know rather than what they do and when what we need to do is to show then how theuir skills can impact in terms of pedagogy and learning. Would love to hear more about the 21stC stuff you are doing. Am trying to build a wiki of areas but with links to how it can be used at different stages of learning (Lower order thinking to Higher order thinking)