There are new systems out there (e.g. http://openhive.net, 35 developers for three years released at BETT2010) that are very impressive – based on farming things in and out of the MIS to connect people seamlessly to their learning communities (teachers to classes etc) and create a set of learning tools and shibboleth SSO to get you wherever you want to go. I took a shoddy video at BETT – http://www.youtube.com/user/daibarnes#p/a/u/2/BCDi5KWFU0g and http://www.youtube.com/user/daibarnes#p/u/3/oumghI5B0_U. There’s another one for Frog which I’ll put on my channel today.
How much they drill down into and improve the mechanics of learning is hard to say because this is still (and will probably remain) an undetermined facet of elearning. Those of us that engage our learners (and are learners) with the internet may sing songs from rooftops but there are many teachers who are doing an excellent job and poopooing the tech becomes part of their success. [You’re the ICT teacher – that’s your job] The only place where they may fall short is a lack of preparing the young for their future. Is this sufficient to enforce significant change to their practice?
I think what I am trying to say is that good quality learning (however that might be defined) is not exclusive to technology. Therefore, Moodle and similar products are not the answer. They are a means of connecting people around the maypole of content and activities. The access to that content is still the job of the teacher – lead the dance, or at least get it started. Caution about opting for a proprietry system should be tempered by considering the value it adds to an institution/community and to the learning that occurs therein. And, therefore, I arrive back at Moodle which can be employed with external expertise for less per annum than the income of one child in the state sector.
My final point is to say that if we, as tech-invested educators, keep assessing a system by its capacity to penetrate the teaching community then we are misguided. The use itself will flow, burst the banks and spread in due course. Or maybe not. I am confident that children who pass through my classroom at A Level receive a rich technologically enhanced learning experience. I am not so confident this is the same in Y7 and Y8 where I see them for 40 minutes each week (something I must get a hold on). I am equally not confident that every pupil who passes through my school is prepped for life beyond the school. Maybe the school, via me, should plan which handful of subjects are going to embrace online learning to spread this essential educational substance and focus on that rather than the unattainable nirvana of every subject, every teacher, every pupil?
I would welcome tech being used more and more to facilitate the learner (handhelds, email, calendars, searching, etc.). Teachers and learners in the classroom, project-by-project and in negotiation with each other, will determine when and how it is used. As an ed tech leader I am 100% convinced, and able to argue, that tech helps people organise and provide access to material. As a teacher I am passionate about quality learning. Combining these two is, for me (but not for all), the rub. If another teacher tells me their rub is only the latter – they have my full support. Aye, the collaboration. Aye, the peer assessment opportunities. Aye, the digital citizen. But still.
Raise high the roof beam, carpenters. Like Ares comes the bridegroom, taller far than a tall man. J.D.Sallinger
Life is many days. This will end. J Joyce