Sunday, 7 February 2010

Bridging the Gap 2

With one week left of my Basic ICT course I have had time to reflect on what, if anything it has achieved. As I highlighted in my previous post (Bridging the Gap) I had several outcomes intended for the course:

  • 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.

All of which are worthwhile and I can say with confidence will be a step closer to being realised now than they were 5 weeks ago. So with my reflective head on I looked at what I covered during the weeks, why? And the benefits to: The staff who attended; the school as a whole; me as ICT subject leader and the students we teach.

Week 1 - Computer basics - Nothing earth shattering here, a glossary of terms they may come across (linked to Teach-ICT online dictionary). Just so they know what a wiki, blog, podcast etc are. Not asking people to do them, just know they are there. This was followed with a walk around the Windows desktop, maximising , minimising and closing windows. Using the taskbar. Switching between open applications.

We then played some online games - My justification: It is what the children do, it improves mouse skills, It was a distraction from me talking and everyone was engaged with their computer....

finally a whistlestop tour of file management - How make a folder, rename a folder and move files between folders. Short task provided was a folder full of mixed files which needed to be sorted into some order.

Week 2 - KLZ & E mail - Kent Learning Zone (KLZ) is the sharepoint portal through which staff access their e mails and a range of other information. We looked at the school sharepoint site (I have spent some time making it user friendly) and then accessed the course page on which all the notes, information and links have been posted. I had added a couple of Voki's of a mouse that revised some of the points from the previous weeks input.

We then looked at the e mail accounts - reading, replying and forwarding messages. opening attachments. Adding contacts and organising contacts. I then sent an e mail to all staff, giving the opportunity for contacts to be added and sorted as appropriate to each individual.

Week 3 - The Internet - I did nothing here, largely thanks to @markw29 and his wonderfully informative Welcome to the Web - The site provides a step by step walk though the Internet including: Staying safe, Browsing, searching. It covered everything I wanted to cover - Although it is aimed at children, the tips and idea included were relevant, accessible and well presented. I introduced it, showed them where the link was and then let them play.

Week 4 - Word & Publisher - 1 hour to look at 2 pieces of software that (despite my reluctance to hand the Microsoft empire yet more control) do appear to form the mainstay of ICT tools in the classroom. These bread and butter applications are used regularly by the children in most curricular areas -

Word - I just put a piece of text onto the sharepoint site that could be downloaded. I demonstrated 5 things: Formatting the font (colour & Style); Using the spellchecker; Using synonyms; Inserting a picture and Inserting Word Art. These tools, whilst a tiny part of the software's capability enabled them all to produce a formatted piece of text and the awareness that making a piece of text presentable is a relatively simple task.

Publisher - Once again a load of things I could have done - instead went straight to the 'Publications for print' and looked at the pre-loaded layouts. I chose one and demonstrated that using a layout that worked I could adapt it and change it to suit my personal needs. I demonstrated 5 things: Editing a text box; formatting an autoshape; formatting a line; deleting elements and changing a picture. The task was then to produce a certificate for their class using these tools.

Both tasks were successful in providing an introduction to the software and gave an opportunity to play with the computer.

Week 5 - Excel & Powerpoint - As I write this I have not yet completed week 5, I am following a similar format to week 4 and expect to give a short demonstration with a practical task to clarify each of the applications. I do not like Powerpoint personally and am hoping these familiar applications will provide a springboard from which other software can be accessed be it installed or web-based.

Having completed the bulk of the course, and for the main enjoyed doing it what has it achieved in terms of value are multi-faceted:

The Staff - I have received a wealth of positive comments from those who have been turning up and giving up their own time to move outside their personal comfort zones. This was highlighted on Friday with the message shown below on a small card:

The accompanying bottle of red wine was well received and enjoyed with my steak on Friday evening, but more so was the sentiment of the card - The key word being confident. I have heard a range of positive comments about ICT from people whose approach to and grasp of ICT knowledge had in the past bordered on phobic. I feel that the confidence to turn on a machine and have a go has started to grow amongst the staff.

The School - It is too early to gauge any long term affects, but I am confident that just the fact that all the staff now have school e mail addresses - and because of training over 60% of them are accessing them regularly. We are in a position to communicate as an organization in a more efficient, cost effective and ecologically sound way.

The ICT Leader - If it means that one less person asks me 'can you just' with regards to an ICT problem then I will be satisfied. But even more I have already noticed that the support staff who accompany children into the ICT suite for a lesson are more confident in their support of the children. Being prepared to take a risk alongside the students is a big ask, yet it is happening.

The Students - We are led to believe that we are educating digital natives, and that our students are much more able and confident than adults to embrace and utilise the tools that 21st century learning provides. Generally this is true, nevertheless there are children who struggle to access or understand the worth of these tools. What value to their self-esteem is being supported by an adult who finds the concepts equally baffling? This 2-way scaffolding could be beneficial in raising standards in ICT and helping children to improve their own self-worth. I think it is good that children see the adults around them learning, it helps to foster a positive image of life-long learning. I had a conversation in the dinner hall on Friday with a year 10 student - Student - 'Am I right in saying that the staff have been having ICT lessons after school? Can I ask why?' I explained that they are trying to improve their own knowledge to facilitate the children improving and using ICT more effectively. He looked at me, thought for a while, then said 'Thats a good idea' and carried on eating. That about sums it up, the value to the children is having adults supporting them who can help them to move forward in all curricular areas. If ICT can be used positively in the classroom then our students have one more tool that can foster their own development.

In conclusion, none of it is earth shattering, none of the course was ground breaking in fact it was basic with a capital B. But it has been well received, moved people forward and I am already being approached by other more reticent staff about the possibility of repeating it next term. I have been given praise (which is always nice), I have seen benefits in the classroom and I believe we are one step closer to effectively utilising the plethora of ICT opportunities available in school and online. I would love to bridge the gap, think I may have laid the abutment, more bridging to follow!

1 comment:

  1. What a good bunch it sounds like you work with. Glad they appreciated your work.
    I think I need to remember the you can't force people to embrace technology comment. Darn that means being tolerant!
    Thanks for sharing what you have been doing.