At my school we have recently been working towards the implementation and roll out of Office 365 across the school and in doing so it has raised some interesting questions in relation to the various platforms and solutions which are available for use in the classroom.
Take for example this post, “Battle of the classrooms” which focuses on the Google, Apple and Microsoft Classroom solutions. Each does something different although there are also similarities with quite clear similarities existing between Google and Microsoft’s offering.
Teachers may have a preference for one or other based on their previous experience or skills. As such it seems sensible to allow them to make use of this experience and their associated skills in their teaching. Some teachers may be adventurous, innovative and striving to try new things and therefore may identify new solutions and apps outside of the more common ones, then wanting to make use of these in their lessons. The above is critical in terms of seeking innovative practice and learning experiences as it taps into teacher motivation, existing experience and skills. This works from a micro, individual teacher and lesson viewpoint.
Taking the macro viewpoint however the above is problematic. The students, who we are here to serve, experience the lessons from a number of different teachers and subjects during the week as they move around the school following their timetable. They therefore expect to experience consistency as they move from lesson to lesson. Thinking about it the education system is awash with requests for consistency including standardized testing and inspections. The idea of different teachers using different technology solutions in their lessons seems to be at odds with this need for consistency. Should individual teachers all be using differing platforms this could lead to confusion among students and could negatively impact on learning.
Compromise seems to be the only solution. To adopt a core set of apps such as solutions for sharing revision content, which are consistently used by teachers across the school, while allowing teachers to experiment with different apps within their teaching. Considering the compromise as a point on a continuum between a totally standardized environment, where a strict set of apps are allowed, and an environment where anything goes and any app can be used, I think I lean to the right of centre, towards encouraging and allowing flexibility in trying new apps.
Relecting on the above I realise that my starting point was that of the teacher and teaching. I wonder if my end point may have been different if I had started by looking at the student side of things. I will however leave that for a future post.
For now my belief in relation to edTech use continues to be in the need for flexibility and innovation albeit with some aspects of consistency if that contradiction is even possible?