What they don’t tell you about using IT in class

This week I am planning for my GCSE pupils should make a short video of their work to present to the rest of the group on tourism in Kenya. I haven’t done this before; I feel pleased I am doing it, but I think most teachers have been allowing their pupils to learn like this for quite a while.

I always feel that other people are using newer technology in their teaching, other classes are learning with more appropriate ICT, other schools have quicker PCs or netbooks or tablets and other teachers are going to more useful CPD and meetings than I or my classes ever manage. Because I spend a lot of time on twitter, where there are naturally a higher proportion of IT savvy teachers per square mile than elsewhere in the world, this feeling can sometimes be overwhelming.

Our school, like all the others over the country, is short of cash. When I take my class into an IT room there are 20 machines with at least one or two that need some repair or another. The children therefore don’t have a machine each. Also there is not enough space in the room so they are almost sat on top of each other. When I unlock the door (having arrived 5 minutes after my class as i have had to traipse over from my last lesson) there is a rush for the best seat and the least slow PC. The slower, weaker, less popular pupils end up in the chairs with the wobbly legs furthest from a computer. It then takes 5 minutes for the teacher laptop to warm up and for me to get the presentation up on the IWB. Meanwhile I have to work out which of the pupil computers is the one today on which the mouse isn’t working. Finally, after silencing the group and getting Emily off her emails we are all ready to go; 16% of the lesson has gone. I do tell my pupils to save their work regularly in case connection is lost, but they don’t always and then at the end of the lesson disaster can strike. That excellent site I found at home is blocked at school.

So when I read your blog or listen to your speech telling me how easily you got your pupils into the school grounds with their tablets or collaborating on some online app or site I feel that I am going wrong or missing out.

When I hear the secretary of state for education saying that IT teaching is boring, but that there is no money left for school to buy new equipment or time and finance available to let me have CPD to find out about new technologies I wonder how I am supposed to keep up to speed.

Anyone got any ideas?


6 thoughts on “What they don’t tell you about using IT in class

  1. You have a very good point here. I have to say that, in general, our school is no different from your own. Our department tends to do well tech wise as we are starting to explore the use of students’ own devices and actively go out to seek and secure external funding. These are usually small sums of money but it all adds up 🙂

    • thanks David I looked at grants through our Wiltshire LA site, most seemed to be for financially hard up areas and we have an average amount of FSM pupils at our school. However I will keep looking. I am Chair of Governors at local infant school and the head their is a whizz on grants. I must tap her up for more ideas!!

  2. Hi – it’s not all about the hardware. I think that new sleek hardware can be a distraction from the learning. I would agree with you that the focussing on the quality of learning experience for children in your school is the biggest priority.

    The Guardian published an article I wrote this week regarding teaching computing, ‘Computer Science Reboot’. We started about 4 years ago making small changes, then more significant changes in the last 12 months. Most of these have been using our 5 year old desktop PCs and free/open-source software. Next week they will be publishing a list of free resources we have been using.

    I strongly recommend you sign up to join the Computing at School group, also free! You will find out about free events and training near you.

    • What a helpful comment! I will join up and read your article and look forward to next weeks list *prepares to copy and steal ideas*

  3. Just let them film using their mobile phones and get the class out of the computer lab so they can involve role-play, research and create their own Kenyan resources.

    They can then email you the finished films.

    • Your idea is a good one. I can use some flip cameras we have in class. Someone also suggested via twitter to give longer for homework so they can be more creative. this will certainly work for KS3 but having had contact time cut to 2 hours a week for KS4 it is more difficult. Thanks for your suggestion

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