Thursday, 28 April 2016

From If to How and What

A 5:00 am wakeup call followed by a 6:08 am train (immediately preceded by a queue of 10 people in front of me at the coffee shop, all wanting lattes) meant I arrived at Sixty-One Westminster at 8:40 alert and cheerful, ready for the traditional pre-conference coffee, pastry, laptop, handbag and conference guide juggling act.
This alertness served me well in the day – the agenda was packed beyond belief. Admirably hosted by the Rt. Hon Lord Knight of Weymouth, 16 speakers were herded through highlights of their contributions to the field.
Some I’ve seen before, and deserving of research if they are new to you:
  • Bob Harrison highlighted the Blended Learning Essentials course
  • Lynne Taylerson offered the Heart of Worcester SOLA model and Blended Learning Consortium
  • Stephen Heppell covered the expectations and future needs (using desktop links to files in a nicely flexible alternative to powerpoint)
  • Matt Rogers talked about Open Badges and the Open Badge Academy – we’re already using Badges in GC for our Work Related Activity, but he proffered some ideas about students designing their own badges which were exciting
Some quick ideas/ observations which cropped up throughout the day and I’ve attempted to accredit correctly:
  • Richard Smith, Educational Consultant, Amazing ICT If you don’t have time for a case study, try a pilot project. Run the project, pick out 10 points that work, feed those back.
  • Caroline Wright, Director General Designate, British Educational Suppliers Association Three main areas of concern for teachers adopting Digital Tech in the classroom  
    • Training and CPD – teachers need time to understand innovation & tech and preparing to use it effectively.
    • Reliable technology – 42% of schools still say they have problems with broadband.
    • Security (data security/ CEOP, etc) and Management
The speakers I was most excited by (the yellow highlighter came out!)
  • Professor Peter Twining, Co-Chair, Assessment and Accountability Group, ETAG and Professor of Education (Futures) is investigatingWhat are students’ digital practices outside school and how are they informing practices inside school?” This is hugely exciting work – students don’t want the classroom to operate in the same way as their social life, but we can avoid barriers or disruption if we have a greater understanding of how they integrate tech into their lives.
  • Ty Goddard, standing in for Ian Fordham of Edtech UK gave a presentation on the future of policy and practice which inspired several paragraphs of enthusiastic typing on my part. He is adamant wooing policy makers will get us further than the confrontational stance we currently display. He’s also adamant we need to stop talking about “If” we use tech, and move to “how” – stop talking like evangelists and instead be clear, precise and rational in our speech. Edtech UK are looking for people to contribute to their discussions.
  • Paul Campbell, Early Years and Primary Teacher, Ed.D Candidate and District Secretary, Overseas, ATL discussed his real experience in the classroom and steps we could take. I was utterly enthralled, and my notes suffered, but I heartily recommend reading his work.
The key point I took from the forum is: The technology adoption model is very clear – when a new technology appears the people who engage with it are the Innovators and Early Adopters – the Evangelicals, if you will, who then promote its uptake to others in the field. The idea of Digital Learning has been around for a long time and our teachers are adopting it in various guises. We don’t need to be Evangelical any more. The focus, as Ty says, should move from If to How. And as Paul, enthusiastically supported by Peter, averred, we should move one step further still to “What”.
Everything we do with Digital Technology should be done not because it is possible, but because we have a clear “how” to use it and “what” we want students to achieve.