ICT & Computing in Education

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Ed Tech Innovation–#3: Set the 5 minute test

When I was studying for my first degree at university, the hardest essay I was ever set in the whole three years was “Explain the competing theories about capital in no more than 500 words.” To give you an idea of what that means, 500 words is approximately a side of A4 – not exactly loads of space to summarise what has taken scores of economists and thousands of trees. In this, the third part of this mini-series, I explore how you might use this “less is more” approach in school.

The clock is ticking...As Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit”. I’ve looked at the idea of “less is more” before, in an article entitled Technology and communication: less leads to more. But here, I just want to suggest a few uses for it in school, including the staffroom.

Talking to colleagues

In my opinion, it’s crucial to be able to explain how technology could benefit them, either personally or in their teaching. But not just explain, but do so in a couple of minutes – and certainly no more than five.

What I’m saying is that it’s good to develop an elevator speech for ICT. Actually, several elevator speeches, to cover a number of contingencies:

  • “I already get great grades for my kids, so why do I need to bother with this stuff?”
  • “I haven’t got time to learn this stuff because I have to spend too much time marking books”
  • “How can technology help me teach X better?”
  • “Go on, show me something I can do with technology that is going to knock me off my seat, and that I can apply in my next lesson!”

Over to the kids

Setting a 5 minute limit is great for use with students:

  • What is ICT about? What is it in a nutshell?” (See the video below in this regard.)
  • Make a 5 minute video explaining how you can keep safe online.
  • Answer 20 questions in 5 minutes on the subject of X.
  • Create a set of instructions for clearing a printer jam/creating a flyer/etc etc. (See also Freedman’s 5 Minute Rule in 7 rules for ICT teachers, co-ordinators and leaders.)

The “5 minute test” (which doesn’t have to be a test!) can be really useful, very informative and quite fun. It’s easy to implement, and all you have to do really is think of some more uses for it. If that’s a bit challenging, given the busy-ness of school in the first week of term, why not ask the kids to come up with some ideas of using the 5 minute test? Giving them a limit of 5 minutes, of course!

I think you may find the video below quite enjoyable. It dates from the late 70s.

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(c) Terry Freedman