Friday, October 26, 2012

Presentation to Pre-service Computing Teachers

Yesterday I was invited to speak to pre-service computing teachers at ACU. The context was the fact that traditional computing subjects are on the decline in NSW. However, we wanted to emphasise that the students' skills were not wasted, and that if they adopted an 'eLearning' mindset (see previous blog post eLearning v ICT) for their secondary subjects, they could experience rich teaching and learning whilst integrating technology in any classroom (and beyond). Here is the presentation:

eLearning v ICT

In recent years we have made massive efforts to evolve from an 'ICT' mindset to an 'eLearning' mindset in schools. Some may say this is semantics. However, by definition, ICT refers to technology (stuff - cables, equipment) whereas eLearning refers to learning. Take the classic example of the incumbent ICT Coordinators in schools a few years ago. Usually these were men, often in jeans, who fixed the printers, ran the networks (with DIY fixes) and taught the occasional computing class. Five years on, after a focus on eLearning, we now have 50/50 male/female eLearning Coordinators, who are teachers first and foremost (from all disciplines). We employ technicians to do the technical work.

It is a personal bugbear when, because I work with technology (in teaching and learning), I am often referred to as the IT guy. I do not have those skills, I cannot fix your printer or write code for your website. However, if you want support with teaching, particularly in capitalising on the opportunities technology provides in (and beyond) the classroom, then I'm your man! 

Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect and need for people with technical skills. Unfortunately, I feel both technicians and teachers who work with technology are often treated in a patronising fashion as lackies to fix other people's problems. Surely it is the responsibility of all teachers to capitalise on the use of technology where appropriate (and a part of one's professionalism to develop problem-solving skills rather than default to your nearest lackey).

I expressed this frustration in a tweet with elicited some great responses from Judy O'Connell and Andrew Churches:

 eLearning is simply 'learning' in this day and age, enhanced and augmented by technology.