To borrow from Dr Johnson, I find that most innovative ideas in ICT I read about are both new and exciting. Unfortunately, the ones that are new are not exciting, and the ones that are exciting are not new. It’s all very well “pushing the boundaries”, but all that does is give you more of the same.
In my opinion there are four main ways of generating ideas that are both genuinely new and genuinely exciting. Here they are.
If you're in charge of teaching information and communications technology, what can you do in order to inject even more life into the subject? Here are 12 ideas to get you started. And when you've read these, you might like to look at Shock Tactics: 7 Ideas For Teaching With Technology.
Do the unexpected. For example, show how you can do modelling with a word processor.
Delegate the responsibility. Ask the teachers in your team to each take a unit of work and be responsible for creating a package for it: lesson plans, resources and in-service training for the rest of you.
Do a different unit. For example, if delegating responsibility for units already happens, don't do the same unit this year as you did last year.
Collaborate with other teachers (1). For example, ask a business studies teacher to come up with some ideas for teaching copyright protection. They're bound to have a different -- and therefore refreshing -- take on it.
Collaborate with other teachers (2). Put together an ad hoc team from a couple of subject areas, take a theme, and see where it leads you.
In one school I taught in, a group of us from the English, Economics, Geography and History departments put together a unit of work dealing with the origins of some common words in the English language. It was fascinating, and the students loved it. We all brought a different perspective to the topic, which served as a vehicle for teaching a whole range of things. The main thing we all had in common was that we all worked on crosswords in the lunch break!
Put the students to work. Ask them to devise a lesson package for some of the work. For example, ask them to produce 2 lessons on the effects of technology in society. The reward for them would be for it to contribute towards an accredited project, or be included in their e-portfolio.
Teach a different age group. If you usually teach 10 year olds, do a swap with a colleague and take their 14 year olds. Having to teach the subject to a different age group will force you to rethink your approach.
Use a different medium. If most of your resources are text-based, change the balance: can you find a few podcasts and video clips that could form the backbone of the unit instead?
Use a different approach. Instead of teaching unit 1, unit 2, unit 3 etc etc ad nauseum, try devising a really interesting scenario that can form the basis of a project spanning several units, and several weeks.
Give a different kind of assignment. For example, ask the students to work in teams to produce a game designed to teach people how to keep safe online.
Get out more. That's right: see what other schools are doing. It might give you some ideas.
Read more. Sometimes, for example, the school reports published by Ofsted, the English inspection body for education and related services, highlight good examples of using or teaching ICT. Read educational journals, both print and electronic. And, of course, continue to subscribe to Practical ICT in order to be able to read articles such as this one.
This article was first published on 25th September 2008 under the title Shock Tactics.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you may find my book useful:
Go On, Bore 'Em!: How to make ICT lessons excruciatingly dull. This looks at ten reasons that ICT lessons are often described by kids as 'boring', and what you can do about it.