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Josie Fraser
UK-based social & educational technologist
Interests: community development, cyberbullying, digital literacy, digital rights, e-safety, education, greenICT, identity, open access, open education, open source, open standards, participation, personal learning environments, public value, social media, social networks, social software, technology
Recent Activity
I'm moving! If you're old school enough to subscribe via a feed reader (or via email) - many thanks! Please do continue to do so over at SocialTech's new home, josiefraser.com. Updates are likely to continue to be irregular, but I'm not abandoning blogging, just moving house. If you prefer to take your chances on getting updates, I'm still active over at Twitter & I'll post alerts over there. I'm still not interested in hosting adverts or writing PR pieces for products and services, & probably this notice won't stop me getting requests. Many thanks! Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2014 at SocialTech
Hi Crispin, It's clear from the length of and passion of your response that you, like me, think this is a very important area. I am not a member of ETAG - I'm an an individual responding to an open call. I understand that you don't think my response is a good one, and you are dissatisfied with the consultation process. I've elaborated on my position above with regard to your comments, but I'm not sure what you think I can do in relation to the eventual ETAG recommendations, or indeed how or if any of these recommendations get acted on. Consultations of this nature come without any guarantee - between the consultation and the recommendations and the recommendations and any eventual actions or implementation. The value of an open consultation is in asking for ideas and opinions from a wide range of people, many of who will hold opposing views, and have differing priorities and agendas. I've tried to express mine here, but I don't expect everyone to agree with everything I have said.
1 reply
Hi Crispin. I haven’t previously talked about teachers - I’ve been referring to school staff throughout my response here, not just teachers. My experience of working with teachers doesn’t really relate to your characterisation of them. In relation to quantitative learning outcomes I presume you mean research that can be directly related to improved results. I’m not personally of the mind that the only purpose of the school system is to produce good grades, and that there can be no value in any other use of technology. I think technologies can be used in ways that are very valuable for supporting community development, inclusive governance, and also for just having fun. Some of the schools I work with use technologies to support learners with severe learning difficulties or disabilities which reduce their life spans, and I believe these uses are incredibly valuable, but won't produce the kind of evidence you refer to here. I also think there is an existing body of evidence about what works in terms of raising attainment, and what approaches have made a difference to learning outcomes. Many of these factors can be implemented, supported, or extended by the use of technology. Informative feedback is an example of this. Building effective partnerships around the school is an example of this. Improving professional expertise is an example of this. Peer support is an example of this. Given that we do have evidence about what works, I don’t understand the value of dismissing technologies on the grounds that just using them for their own sake doesn’t improve anything, or what the point is of looking for ‘solid evidence’ that just using technology will make things magically better. In terms of ETAG, I can see one teacher who is a member of the action group, and one organisation which works with schools and industry partners. I don’t know how many teachers and teachers representative organisations responded to the open call, but hopefully it was quite a few. I don’t think that this represents a monopoly on opinion though.
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Hi Crispin, thanks for taking the time to comment. A quick reply to your comment that “I disagree with your basic premise that "school staff are best placed to effectively develop practices that make best use of technologies".” I agree that pedagogical expertise is not the exclusive domain of school staff. Of course I am keen to see staff supported in connecting to external expertise and research, as well as to the expertise and experience of other educators. To be explicit: I am not suggesting that the best way to support school staff is to encourage them never to talk to anyone outside of their profession, or read anything not written by a school employee, or use any technology not developed by a teacher. Educators and schools of course connect to and work in the context of a wider range of practitioners, organisations, experts, research and practices. This is not an easy thing to do, and more difficult without the confidence and skill to use technologies to develop professional networks and collaborate at distance. I have confidence that school employees are best placed to do their own jobs and develop their own practice (which includes using technologies), and I don’t see how it is possible to meaningfully work with school leaders, educators and support staff without having this confidence. Your point is of course that in relation to the consultation scope, we don't have to work with education communities, or at least that shouldn't be a priority - that the market should be supported to lead, and if effective technologies are developed, schools or the government will buy them and staff will learn to use them. Personally, I'm significantly skeptical about this claim. I also think that there are technologies that can be used effectively to support learning, teaching and school communities, but for a wide range of reasons, aren't being made use of by all staff or all schools. My priority would be to invest in the development of school communities, and increase staff confidence, in making use of the wide range of technologies that can effectively support learning and teaching practices.
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Last Monday I was invited to Sanctuary House to contribute to two face to face meeting relating to the Data and Infrastructure strand identified by the Education Technology Action Group (ETAG) as one of its three key workstreams. ETAG, as outlined on Group Chair Stephen Heppell’s website, is an independent group set up at the behest Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Education), Matthew Hancock (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for further education, skills and lifelong learning) and David Willetts (Minister of State for Universities and Science). The purpose of the group is to make recommendations that will “aim to best... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2014 at SocialTech