One crucial aspect of IT is that it can be so ephemeral. By moving around
and thinking I'd taken care of everything, I've lost mountains of materials
over the years.
Moreover, there are people on this list who not only remember 5.25" floppies
but 8" floppies: me, for example; and this weekend I bought a new laptop so
I don't even have a 3.5" floppy drive now: I will transfer everything by CD
or the internet from now on.
Software comes and goes and not always with backwards compatibility; not
always with ongoing support.
Chris mentioned the man from Wales winning an award with his electronic
white board ... the Emperor's new clothes springs to mind.
On a more philosophical level, let me pretend at least, if Fermat had had a
computer, for example, would he ever have posed his last theorem? It might
be unlikely that he would since he could have simulated responses to his own
question and drawn a conclusion much sooner than Andrew Wiles ever did: I
fermat claims to have found the answer but then mislaid it!
In addition to one to one tutorial type work using spreadsheets, whenever I
do any presentations now I ALWAYS use a computer based presentation and I
ALWAYS make that presentation available along with any supporting Word or
Excel or other files ... I've never had the opportunity to follow up in
detail on whether I am doing the right thing. What I do know, however, is
the my own work is much tidier and better organised now than it used to be
... and I have scrappy hand written slides in my garage from yesteryear to
A few years ago, I developed the habit of making my lecture notes and
presentations available in advance and found that this was one the best
things I ever did. I was surprised by what happened but what did happen was
that students were no longer just hell bent on listening and trying to
understand and write down as much as possible; because they knew they
already had all of the notes, they were able more critically to assess what
was happening in the classroom: I got greater contributions to discussions,
better results in practical sessions and a greater overall sense of
wellbeing beoth for me and for them. It didn't matter whether the notes had
been read in advance, either, since I never assumed they would be.
Another 2 penn'orth!
----- Original Message -----
From: "richard.bowett" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, November 03, 2002 7:01 PM
Subject: Re: IT in schools
> There is no doubt that IT can be a massive waste of time and money. It
> also be, as the research suggests, an actual barrier to learning. As I
> it, one of the main problems is that of INSET. When a school proudly
> unveils its latest hardware or software acquisition, staff are given INSET
> on how to operate the new system. Very rarely is the question raised as
> how the new system, however expertly operated, actually contributes to
> learning, and therefore how it should be used as a teaching tool.
> This is a subtle and difficult question. There is one range of issues as
> which kinds of topics/lessons a particular piece of apparatus or an
> application is best suited. As Duncan points out, there is a range of
> business topics which seem well handled by spread-sheets.
> But there is a further range of issues which is even more rarely
> Information, and therefore learning is mediated by the means of
> communication. We all use language a lot, and are therefore familiar with
> the ways in which language mediates the learning in question. For
> students with weak language skills find that so much of their cognitive
> processing is given over to the task of decoding the language that there
> very little left for learning the lesson in question. Similarly, IT
> mediates the information in different ways that I for one don't fully
> understand, and I would only claim to be a step ahead insofar as I am
> that there is a question in need of an answer. The affective is prior to
> the cognitive, and we are all aware how the feelings about IT experienced
> by the technophobic student can form a barrier to learning. But that is
> only one of a possible range of affective responses to the use of IT. But
> what the cognitive consequences are is a further question. For example,
> all that many web-pages look like book pages, the web 'packages'
> in very different ways to books and libraries. How does this affect
> learning? Does it make it easier, or more difficult, or just different?
> so, what are the differences, and how are they best catered for?
> I welcome any thoughts on this matter.
> Richard Bowett