Thursday, September 27, 2007

Becta Harnessing Technology Seminar

"Delivering the Future for Learners - how you can "harness technology"

The view from my table I'm at a hotel in London for a Becta regional conference on Harnessing Technology. There are a number of speakers giving case studies and the whole day is ostensibly to share practice between people here. It's a typical Becta event so we're sat at numbered tables and will use a tablet PC to feed back and ask questions.

First up is Mark Lloyd, headteacher at Barking Abbey School. This was an ICT Test Bed school (which received something like £2.1 million to invest in ICT over 4 years) and he's got some very interesting thoughts on how technology can address restructuring (workforce reform) and changing culture. I've seen a presentation (possibly by him) at a Becta conference before and I think I remember the school talking about using Moodle - and in one of the video clips of staff at the school they mention how they're using Moodle as a VLE. The school is also going in to the BSF programme, so I'd be interested to see how any "imposed" ICT solution from a BSF provider fits in with and affects what the school is doing now.

Tony Richardson is talking about the E-Strategy - here's a quote after looking at a video from Walsall of kids using GPS enabled devices to record things "[that is] people coming together to challenge, support and develop one another in their learning" - sounds something like social constructivism to me.

Steve Molyneux from The Learning Lab talking about moving from pedagogy to andragogy - where learners aren't in a submissive role but in a controlling role. He proposes three alternative models:

  • Resource and guidance
  • Content & Support
  • Social Constructivist Model

There are lots of interesting things about the day - it's very London-centric (understandably) - but one thread that comes through for me is an emphasis on the whole idea of social learning, something that Moodle is based around. There is the usual mixture of interesting ideas and some misconceptions - one in particular is one which Steve Molyneux repeated from his seminar at Naace. He showed a screenshot (it happened to be from Moodle, but it could have come from any learning environment) - and made the point that a layout like a "normal" learning environment doesn't encourage learning in the way that children learn nowadays. Personally I think it's difficult to surmise the quality of or the nature of learning which a VLE/LP could support from a screenshot - a bit like looking at a still from a film and surmising that the acting or plot is not very good.

There's also some interesting and vaguely uninformed opinions on Moodle which I overheard from a colleague from a London borough. Since London has moved from DigitalBrain (which didn't make the framework) to Fronter, most of the schools will opt for that, but as with the rest of the framework, there's scope for schools & London LAs to do their own thing if they believe it's the right thing to do.

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