In England we have a weekly soap set in a school called Waterloo Road. This has everything you would hope not to find in a school: inappropriate behaviour, theft, even attempted murder – and that’s just the staff. The kids are pretty OK by comparison: teenaged pregnancy, illegal drug-taking and gangs. Strangely enough, there doesn’t seem to be more than 30 kids on roll, judging by the number of people who attend whole-school assemblies. But my main interest is this: what (good) use of technology is shown in this programme?
The answer is, precious little. Occasionally, you see an interactive whiteboard with something displayed on it. However, that something is invariably a page full of text and is never referred to or used in any way by the teacher.
A few weeks ago the head boy and girl were allowed time off lessons or studying to make a promotional video about the school, and were permitted, unsupervised, to upload it to the school website. There was an implicit assumption that being studious also meant being trusted to ensure you could take responsibility for ensuring that something uploaded to the school website was appropriate. It’s a dangerous assumption to make: even using an out-of-date logo could be construed as inappropriate (I was once asked to change the logo I’d used on a Local Authority training pack for ICT because, unbeknownst to me, the corporate logo had recently been changed.)
Needless to say, someone intervened and uploaded the outtakes, which were pretty embarrassing (the two people concerned were “an item”).
The only good use of technology, in fact, is displayed by the kids, when they use their phones to text each other with messages like “Skip last lesson? Meet you outside the gate at 2”.
So, the school is not a good example of a functional school in general, and neither is it a beacon of excellence in terms of the use of technology. But an article in the Daily Telegraph made me think: but what would a good role model of ICT/technology actually look like?
In the article, Hossein Yassaie, the Chief Executive of Imagination Technologies, argues that what we need is a David Beckham figure for technology, to get young people interested:
In the UK, people get excited by what they see – The X Factor or football. David Beckham is a big deal [in inspiring young people] but we don't have an equivalent for British technology.
Fine words, but what would such a person “look” like? What does a good role model in ICT (Educational Technology) look like?
I have a few ideas of my own, but I’d be interested to hear what others think, so I’ve set up a short survey to canvass people’s views. Results will be published here in a few weeks’ time. Do spare 5 minutes or so to share your views, as I think this is an important issue.
Other articles you may find interesting in this regard are: