Things I learned this week #2

1. I learned that satire has it’s place in education ICT

Have you ever faced a Canute-like colleague, keen to roll back the tide of technology? Or treats technology problems completely differently from any other kind of problem. For example, I’ve often wondered if we’d ban pencils in classrooms if they were invented today, because they have a bad side as well as a good side. Just like ICT.

I really enjoyed reading John Spencer’s “Pencil Integration” blog, which proves that satire is sometimes the way to go when faced with cyncics. It’s satirising ICT in education, by writing about the introduction of pencils in the classroom. As you read it, change every reference to pencils & books to ICT, and you’ll see how ridiculous some of the ideas sound.

Three of my favourites:

  • Banning Books – creating a book filtering programme, where students can search for books that are appropriate and banning sites that include inappropriate content. This is too close to real life – I remember a few years ago being asked by a religious schools group if they could filter out all ‘dinosaur’ sites on their school internet feed, because it was incompatible with their beliefs.
  • Wondering if we'll ever go all-out on pencils – I’m sure everybody has their own example to add to this one from personal experience, which could be more appropriately titled “I dropped my pencil, and now it’s broken”
  • Blocking pen pal networks – how to respond to pencil-based bullying. Here’s the quote that makes it for me “If it’s verbal, blame the student. If it’s written, blame the pencils.”

If you think this kind of thing doesn’t happen with technology today, then take a look at The Angry Technician’s blog post series entitled “Let’s solve everything with Technology

2. A novel way to reduce sickness

One college reduced its staff sickness rate by 50%, by changing that way that they cover the lessons for absent lecturers. The Head of Department became the default cover option, meaning that most absent lecturers had their boss taking cover for their lesson. That simple changed halved sickness rates, because staff simply didn’t want their boss to see their class, lesson plans etc

3. College lecturers and school teachers teach similar hours

I learnt, at a conference, that the average full-time college lecturer teaches 840 hours per year. Working this out for schools, I think it’s about 850  hours for a typical teacher (at 38 weeks a year, and about 5 hours of teaching a day, less 10% for PPA time)

4. The Home Access Programme is continuing to run swiftly

The Home Access Programme has been running since January, and I learnt, in a tweet from Bob Harrison, that so far they have had 400,000 applications for free home computers  - an increase of 70,000 since April.  In total they’ve now approved 200,000 of the grants – which leaves just 85,000 left to hand out.

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