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There's a danger that the pace of change is allowing gross over simplifications in assessments of the benefits of technologies in education, resulting in at best, wasted public resources and worse, further damage to our unprincipled education system. Ollie, you have done it yourself in this post. For example, scrabble on the board is a very substantially different game to just making words and scoring points: it is far more intellectually subtle than that and it is this subtlety that is is invisible to your analysis: the Alice example underlines this. The development of literacy skills is slowed down in a simplified medium such as is emulated by the device based books. Technologies mimick something else and do so in a lesser way. Take the interactive whiteboard for example, when it mimicks a blackboard it does so in a significantly inferior way. The capitalisation of that by the technology companies has been a wicked abuse of public trust and delivers almost nothing of value in the classroom for ten times the cost of what it tries to replace. The far sighted head teacher will keep a black/whiteboard in every classroom: books on every shelf: pens and pencils in every desk: scrabble, chess and ludo in every library/learning space. "Digital divide" is a cynical term which tries to intimidate people who are not "with it" that they are somehow lacking by comparison with those who are. I am a technophile, as you well know, but I heard alarm bells ringing as soon as I saw my first IWB. This post of yours scares the diddly out of me because head teachers and others that read and act upon it are not principled enough to recognise the potential for damage that digital technologies can do to our children.
Excellent post, Ewan, thank you. One or two of your commentators allude to the underlying problem here: it's not the technology, the methodology or any other -ology that is the issue. Rather, it is TRUST. Education authorities simply have such contempt for their graduate professional teachers that they are not trusted to innovate by themselves. Worse than this, is that the dialogue is thin if it occurs at all. Getting face to face with somebody who owns the problem - and thereby can allow the solution - is all but impossible. They are in my experience not only full of contempt but also cynical and cowardly. My own experience in Fife is that I spent a lot of time putting together my own (Moodle) VLE long before GLOW could even clunk. It had 2000 man hours of content. It was blocked manually by the LA. The one meeting I was granted made it clear that the block would be lifted if I were to hand over the content for hosting and presenting as being owned by Fife Council. Naturally, I refused. That site remains blocked in Fife to this day, and pleas to even the highest authority are ignored. It's not a matter of access to social media or any other web resource. It's a matter of trust.
No it isn't, Seb. I am stunned by the blindness that falls over people's reason sometimes, and your article is an example of this. My response. 24/10/2009NickI am with Peter Hain, Howard Jacobson, and Diane Abbott on this one. Seb
Brilliant ;-)