I’ve just returned to teaching, although very part time at the moment (2 classes 6 hours a week), so I thought I would use this breathing space before getting a full time post to investigate how the current technology is being applied in education.
I’ve been in the IT industry since I left Surrey University in 1980, although it was the Data Processing Industry then. It’s appropriate how the labels applied to the industry itself reflect the conventional wisdom of the time. Initally all we did was process data. Ton’s of it. It was so hard to process the data, that the act itself became the focus. We often had no idea why we were processing it, or who we were processing it for. Over time the focus moved to Information Technology. Everyone realised that data itself was meaningless without context.
The 90’s saw the meteoric rise in communication technology, the Internet, world wide web, mobile phones, putting the C into ICT. Not only should a context be given to the data, but you had to commicate that information. The buzz was “right information to the right people at the right time”.
Information was still king.
Complex systems were developed to process information. The cost of such systems was incredible. They could never be scrapped, so much investment had gone into their development in terms of man years, hardware and software costs and even more into their maintenance. They represented millions on company ledgers.
I had a lucrative pre -millenium year as a contractor making piddling changes to hundreds of obsolete programs that were written in the early 70’s, mainly because the knowledge to recreate them disappeared with their authors. Ahhh I hear you sigh that’s what we need to process knowledge.
We should avoid processing anything. It implies to me, simply going though the motions.
When I worked at one company our printing stopped because of a systems software error and when the sytem’s programmer got his act together to get it back online he managed to delete the table which decided which report was printed. Eventually he managed to restore it from backups, but it took him hours, the joys of tape storage, mislabelling, etc, etc…… we were down to firefighting, individually printing reports for those departments screaming loudest.
I managed to persuade my manager to not install the old report printing table, but compile a new one adding the report to be printed back on the schedule only when it was asked for. The list never got back to half it’s original size. Eventually we stopped maintaining those programs whose reports were never printed. Our maintenance backlog disappeared. Through out the business everyone had been processing the information, going through the motions, busy doing nothing. I feel that a lot of education follows these lines. As teachers and students we go through the motions of learning instead of actually acquiring and sharing knowledge. As 21st century educators it is important that we stop trying to simply impart facts to a generation that has facts at their fingertips. They already know how to find facts, our role should be as a guide through the overwhelming bombardment of facts they encounter. Teach them how to learn, not what to learn.
After the millenium I had made such a good living out of the processing industry (easy to shine if you think out of the box), that I retired. Well I stayed home and enjoyed nurturing my children. The pre school years were idyllic. But as soon as they left my playground and went off to school to be educated by others my retirement was ruined. My social life became harder work than any employment had been. So I really examined what I missed about work and the children leaving home and realised that I actually loved sharing knowledge.
I would get a buzz as a programmer solving other people’s problems and even more teaching them how to solve their own. I left school at 16, got my “A” levels from “Rapid Results” correspondance course in 6 weeks, and have throughout my life tried to empower people I meet to have the self belief that they too can pick up any skills they want to. They just have to find an explantion that they can understand, or an educator they can relate to. I challenge anyone to watch the commoncraft plain English guide to blogs no matter how technophobic you and not understand!
So examining my soul I realised that the only thing that would truly fulfill my destiny was to train as a teacher. OK I might have been influenced by the media campaign running at that time, and also the fact that I thought of it on the Thursday was duly signed on the GTP scheme by Monday and two weeks later was in front of my own class (ICT) on a 90% teaching timetable, with a PGCE academic workload (plus mentor meetings, trainer meetings, subject meetings etc, etc). The key knowledge I acquired during this year was
- best plans lead to best lessons
- there is never enough time
- what time there is so easily wasted
- especially surfing the net
I was trying to define knowledge engineer for the “AS” ICT students. I thought it was probably just the latest fancy term for programmer but thought I had better check it out when I encountered
Epistemics knowledge is their business.
These guy’s are guru’s in the field of knowledge.
To cut a long story short that act led me back into Industry and rekindled my interest in the technical. A few projects later and I’ve come back full circle.
For the Technical
My aim to develop an E-Learning ontology template using PC-PACK that will interface with an open source VLE like Moodle or Drupal and use a reasoning engine to populate and maintain it from RSS feeds.
Then of course I’d get the commoncraft guys to explain it to me!
The aim of this Weblog or blog is provide a communication platform to share with anyone who is interested my e-learning curve (blended)
For your glossarys
e-learning is a general term used to refer to computer-enhanced learning
blended e-learning is e-learning with some face to face (or f2f) content.
In the 80’s as a programmer was refered to as firmware (as opposed to hardware and software) how things have changed…not
So what have I found that’s worth passing on. Commoncraft Productions produce excellent video guides to the new technologies.
Ever wondered what this symbol means? Watch the Commoncraft video guide to RSS and learn how to make your Internet research more effective.
The BETT Awards is an annual scheme that highlights exemplar digital products intended for the education marketplace. The scheme is the result of an ongoing and successful public/private partnership between Becta, the Government’s lead agency for ICT in education, BESA, the trade association representing the educational supply industry and Emap Education, the organisers of BETT – the largest educational technology show in the world.
Have you developed any resources that you would like to share? Use the comments facility to communicate!
I have included a just for fun category to encourage you to keep checking the blog!
Oh and of course Merry Christmas!
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