Michael Gove at BETT 2012 (read the speech here) reduced what technology can do for learning as: disseminating learning; augmenting teaching and learning; and more sensitive assessment of pupils’ learning. It is not that I disagree with these purposes but I feel there is a different way to look at the question. How does ICT help us learn?
It helps us find things out. Michael Gove would call this disseminating learning or democratising knowledge. This can too easily be seen as using the internet to search for facts but we can find information through maps, videos, charts, images etc. This aspect of finding things out also involves information processing; assimilating, summarising and re-presenting. In our school this involvesGoogle Web Search and using the SOL approach of Sugata Mitra.
It helps us with creative expression, personal fabrication and production. Technology has led to children who can consume with technology – games, videos, images. It doesn’t automatically mean that children are producing or making things with technology. Producing things requires creative expression, problem solving and the requirement to eloquate our learning to others. As Howard Gardner says, “Everything can be taught in more than one way. And anything that’s understood can be shown in more than one way.” There is an artificial boundary between things that can be made with technology and other things that can be made. We want to link personal fabrication with creative expression and this may involve using technology or it may not. There may be situations when children build a model with wood or Lego and then use Scratch or Arduino to interact with their model.
It helps practise skills or apply learning in areas pf the curriculum. It helps me with a subject. There are a wide range of tools, games, activities and equipment that can be used to help with maths, reading or other curriculum areas. This is not to be rejected but it is not to be the whole picture either. We use handheld GPS equipment to help children explore our Forest School. This may help with geographical skills or it may help finding clues towards a part of the curriculum. For too long ICT has been about Flash games or merely online worksheets.
It helps me talk to others. There are many opportunities to share learning with audiences through creative expression but there are many opportunities to engage with others through social networking that can support shared thinking, INTERTHINKING. This may be Twitter or tools aimed at children such as Primary Pad.
When we combine these elements together in balance this will lead to Constructed Learning. Our ICT skills map is directed by these areas. Our focus is on learning but we provide the skills to use ICT to help us. The final image, below, outlines How ICT Helps Me.
Heaton ICT Skills Map