Inside Scottish Classrooms

For most of the summer, I have been attempting to assemble my thoughts about changing the way we teach. I have not found it easy to create anything coherent and readable so am going to post a series of smaller articles aimed at particular topics.

SSDN or Glow as it is now called will give the opportunity for Scotland’s teachers to re-assess their practice. However my post about this on the Masterclass site has so far not caused the slightest ripple. There is an article on futurelab which pulls together much to support the need for change and Clarence Fisher did start a wiki on change which has not really flourished.

In spite of this I think that technology be it Web 2.0, or in a few years Web 3.0 or whatever will not of itself make any difference to Learning and Teaching unless what actually happens in classrooms changes. In some senses the changes are necessary anyway and are only facilitated by new technologies.

The first issue is one of time. Any teacher anywhere in the world will say they do not have enough time for the existing syllabus let alone adding anything to it. Time is linked to resources. Students must have time in class organised for them to take advantage of what technology offers.

Simplistically most secondary schools in Scotland have a ratio of at most five students to one computer. Doing the Maths tells me that all students could spend 20% of their time using a computer in school, assuming all computers were readily available. How many students actually get regular access to a computer at all? Assuming, teachers let students spend 20% of their time using computers, then teachers have 20% less class teaching time. How do we square the circle?

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4 thoughts on “Inside Scottish Classrooms

  1. I agree that technology is not the issue. As has been said many times before, in some hands technology only helps to teach the old things in new ways. Technology itself won’t revolutionise teaching. What we need is a change in what we teach and how we teach which takes technology into account, both as a teaching/learning tool and as an important aspect of modern life. I began teaching in the early seventies and could, I’m sure, go into a classroom today and teach the same kind of lessons as I did then without straying too far from Curriculum for Excellence guidelines.

    What can make a difference is teacher access to teaching tools such as whiteboard/data projector/internet. This can bring the world into the classroom in a way that was impossible for the teacher of the seventies. However, as you rightly point out, without a computer/laptop/PDA per pupil, they will not be learning tools, only teacher tools.

    Perhaps while funds are scarce the focus should be on improving teacher tools as this is relatively inexpensive compared with equipping pupils with technology. GLOW should certainly make life easier for teachers but most pupils will have very limited access, apart from at home. If pupils using a computer at home is to be a necessary part of education, a whole new can of worms is opened.

    Technology can give teachers more time to focus on teaching but can also create time demands. As in all things, we need to find a balance.

  2. Andy I agree with much of what you say but you have not answered my last paragraph. I think we do have the resources. They are just not accessible to students.

  3. It is simplistic I know, but at the moment very few pupils have regular access to computers in secondary schools. All I am trying to demonstrate is that if computers were redeployed there is an adequate amount of access, and I mean adequate not ideal.

    An increase in the total number of computers is very unlikely in the foreseeable future. Glow (SSDN) will eat into available budgets. So here is a possible short term solution, until some more cost effective technology appears.

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