Over the last 2 days I have had the opportunity of attending the GESS and GEF conferences where a number of speakers have presented their ideas and thoughts at to the integration of technology into learning and teaching.
As I was walking away from the conference venue I noticed the number of exhibitors using iPads to show off their software, apps, hardware, etc. It then dawned on me that over the 2 days I had heard an unusual number of the speakers outlining the benefits of iPads in learning. iPads had clearly made their mark on the conference yet thinking back to the presentations on the “benefits” of using these devices, all I could remember was anecdotal comments on the benefits or results from student satisfaction surveys. Now I do believe that there are specific positive applications and uses for iPads however the generalised “benefits” provided did not strike me as being significant evidence as to the impact or “benefit” of using iPads. The lack of evidence is made all the more stiking when you consider the costs of the devices, associated infrastructure, training, etc. It was at this point I suddenly remembered another device which was heralded as having significant impact on learners without ever producing much in the way of solid evidence……
It was in the 1990’s that the Interactive Whiteboard first made its appearance. The 90s and even 00’s were filled with advances in software and hardware, and claims of engaging learners and impacting on learning, yet little solid evidence exists as to the general impact of IWBs on learning. Yes, I will admit some specific studies exist for a given subject, in a given school, with certain students, however these studies are that narrow in focus, that it is not appropriate to consider their positive results as an indcation of the impact of IWBs in learning in general. So over 20 years later and after so much fanfare and there is still limited evidence as to the benefits of IWBs on learning in general. Even stranger still is the fact that shows like GESS continue to feature such a large number of IWB providers.
So could it be that the iPad is the IWB of 2010s? Promising so much, but delivering very little. Even less when you consider the cost, or “Added Value”.
Have a look at some of my Educational or Technology related Prezi presentations by viewing my new Prezi profile.
Included in my profile is the annoated version of the presentation I will be giving at the GEF 2013 conference. The presentation is entitled: ICT Professional Development and focusses on Teacher perceptions of the use of ICT to enhance teaching and learning. The presentation also touches on teacher perceptions of Professional Development and how we need to focus more on professional learning. Am looking forward to the event, although it has taken me quite some time to generate the presentation so hopefully it is well received.
Professional Development programmes are often guided by the perceptions of external agencies, such as inspection teams or by the perceptions of middle or senior managers however how often do we consider the perceptions of the teachers who attend these programmes? Will the perceptions of attendees not impact on the success or the potential for success of these programmes, and the ability for these programmes to bring about professional learning?
One of the first issues in terms of the success of a PD programme may be how “worthwhile” it is perceived to be. Now as mentioned earlier these programmes are often guided by forces external to the attendees. Have the attendees been asked about the training they need? In some cases the answer to this might be “Yes” as teachers are given the opportunity to choose or sign up for specific professional development events. As such it may be assumed that as they are choosing to attend they must at least, in some way, consider the event to be worthwhile, however this fails to consider other external factors impacting on teachers.
The current environment in schools focuses on targets and methods of measuring progress or achievement. This tends to therefore focus on those areas which are easier to quantify and measure, such as grades, scores, attendance, etc and less on more qualitative measures. As such teachers may attend professional development because they perceive that they have to in order to meet “professional development” targets. So is the choice to attend a professional development event driven by a perception of the “worth” of the event or by the perception that they need to attend events due to expectations of their school or school management team?
So how could we go about measuring the perceptions of teachers as to the predominant reasoning behind attendance at professional development events? Also, how do we move to professional development sessions which all attendees see as being “worthwhile” as, in these circumstances, there is a high probability that success professional learning will occur.
Clearly perceptions of PD are important to ascertain however the issue is, how do we go about getting such information, given it is very personal plus is influenced by a multitude of factors including perceptions of others’ expectations such as those of school leaders.
Its 7:20pm on the 12/02/2013 and after many months (or maybe years) of considering setting up a site to discuss ideas, write down thoughts, etc on things I am most interested in, I have finally got around to doing it.
Hopefully this will be the first of many posts…..time will tell!