Maintaining Standards

So, you're responsible for the use of educational technology in the school, but its use and principles are taught across the curriculum rather than as a discrete subject. In other words, by non-specialists in all likelihood. How can you maintain high standards in ICT and the use of educational technology in such a situation?

In this article I look at 14 suggestions.

Standards should be high! Photo from Howard Lake

  1. Help them to become specialists: encourage them to go on training courses in different aspects of using ICT; run interesting and useful in-service training.
  2. Don't dilute your standards: your colleagues should rise to your level of competence, and be aiming for the highest possible standards for students. All too often, teachers limit what their students can do to what feels most comfortable for themselves. This should not be tolerated, and one way to make it clear that it is unacceptable is to be very clear about what your expectations of the students' attainment are.

  3. Provide examples of work at different standards: teachers cannot be expected to be able to make judgements about their students' abilities unless they know what they are looking for, and looking at.

  4. Provide lots of high-quality resources: boring resources lead to boring lessons; meagre resources lead to everyone having to create or find their own. By having plenty of good quality resources, not only do you potentially save teachers time, you also provide them with a yardstick of quality.

  5. Provide hands-on help when possible, including allocating classroom assistants to the least confident or competent (in ed tech terms) teachers.

  6. Invite them (or their representatives) to your departmental or subject meetings: they are a part of your team (whether they want to be or not!)

  7. Keep tabs on the data: how else will you know if all teachers are teaching to the same (high) standard? I am not suggesting you use the data to monitor teachers as such, but the point is this: you can delegate the teaching of ICT, but you cannot delegate the responsibility of helping students to maximise their attainment. Therefore, you need to keep a close watch on their grades and other data.

  8. Insist on a minimum amount of training. For example, you may want every person teaching ICT to attend a session on what the scheme of work is like, and another one on how to use the computer system.

  9. Make the systems easy to use for everyone -- especially students. If you can minimise the number of times students ask for help, you will help to create classroom situations in which teachers feel less out of their depth.

  10. Provide how-to guides -- for students too . This is related to the previous point.

  11. Beef up technical support: it's very important that faults are dealt with quickly, efficiently and effectively.

  12. Run interesting activities within the course: raise the game by letting students get their teeth into something and show what they can do.

  13. Run interesting events: even occasions like parents' evenings can provide opportunities for showing off great applications and, more importantly, students' mastery of those applications. The key issue in this point and the previous one is this: anything you can do that makes it harder for your colleagues to settle for the "same old same old" is to be welcomed with open arms.

  14. Help students to take charge of their own learning: use an assessment for learning approach to help students to understand what level they're at, and what they need to do to improve their grade. By asking teachers to provide students with the appropriate information, you are helping them to understand the standards themselves.

Have I left any out? If you think I have, please leave your suggestions in the comments section.

This article was first published on 10 Sep 2008