Recommendations for schools
In this section we outline six recommendations for how the internet can be best used in learning environments. These recommendations are aimed at what should be done at a school level to progress the role of the internet in Education - that is, how we can help teachers and pupils access the internet in classrooms. Each recommendation is divided into two sections:
- a ‘Current situation’ section which provides a wider context by conveying information about current trends and where appropriate, linking in our own research;
- and an ‘Improvement’ section where we specify how each recommendation can be achieved. Where appropriate, we have indicated a deadline for when we think this work could be actioned. Throughout our recommendations we provide some extracts and quotes from educational leaders in support of our findings.
Advance pupil development through teacher training by 2020
Ensure that by 2020 all teachers receive training to use a global online portal to share resources, lessons and films via the internet to improve and diversify teaching and learning.
To be able to make a recommendation for the future we must have a clear understanding of what has come before. Therefore we have researched what technological training is available for teachers at present. Case studies from France, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are outlined below:
In many places across the country, school calendars allow for days known as professional development days or 'PD Days'. PD days (in an educational setting) are typically days off from school, littered throughout the year, set aside for educators to essentially learn and share various ideas and understandings related to their field. Seminars, workshops and conferences are available for them to attend in accordance to what they teach (there are Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate conferences available), but PD days are also an opportunity for teachers to further their insight or knowledge of the use of technology in education.
Many of the resources for teacher training come from three distinct areas: (1)The schools themselves through some kind of program (either a government, institutional, or specific independent teacher training channel), (2) online, or (3) through companies involved in the production of technology to be used in schools. For example, Google has a teacher training program with seminars all over the world called Google Teacher Academy - at the end of which, teachers are Google Certified Teachers. Texas Instruments (calculators) and SMART Technologies (they make SMART boards) also have various resources, programmes, conferences and seminars available for teachers and even school districts to make use of.
Historically, it was on the 28th of June 1833 that the Guizot Law put into place the systemic presence of a school in each municipality, as well as a school for teachers to receive the appropriate training. Afterwards, in February 1879, the Minister of Education Jules Ferry promulgated three laws, which established a duty for each French department to create a training school for teachers1 , ensuring that all public schools were compulsory, secular and free of charge2. A century later, the 10th of July 1989, the Law on the orientation of education created the IUMF3. Recently, in 2005, a new Law changed the status of the IUMF.
In terms of organisation, the Minister of Higher Education and Research is the IUMF’s administrative supervisor and follows the rule of article L713-9 of the Education Code. The Council (formed of 40 elected members) defines two programmes, one pedagogy-oriented, the other research-oriented, and ensures the correct execution of contracts.
For more information please see: iufm education
Continuous Professional Development (CPD) encompasses teacher training and encourages all professional occupations (e.g., lawyers, solicitors) to keep up to date with changes in their professions. In theory this is an excellent opportunity for teachers to keep up to date with technology and the internet but in practice some teachers (based in the Midlands) have commented that they have not received training in the last 5 years.
One of the elements of government policy is to ensure that future teachers are well prepared to use technologies to support educational and learning processes. Since the mid-1990s, the government has provided those institutions with facilities, with the aim of playing a pioneering role in that area.
Institutions that provide initial teacher training are well aware of the importance of building competences which enable ICT to be integrated into teaching. Although the use of ICT has become a normal part of Dutch education, technology is not compulsory in teacher training. At the moment several institutions for teacher training are working together to define a formal knowledge base of the basic ICT competences of initial teachers. School boards intend to use this notion as the standard for future competence overviews. Pupils who receive teacher training are confronted with ICT and the different ways it can be used during study and work. They are sometimes challenged to undertake ICT-related projects, which they carry out at their internship school. For more information about teaching training in the Netherlands see: OECD
Overview of current situation
One clear observation from our research is that teachers are the ’gatekeepers’ to accessing the internet in the classroom - that is, teachers control the way it is used in learning, its prevalence, and the level of freedom pupils are given when accessing the internet. Crucially, if teachers are unable or unwilling to incorporate technology into their lessons then pupils will not learn or progress from this digital age. A related factor is how confident teachers are in using technology and the internet as a learning tool. For instance, our questionnaire data showed that approximately 40% of pupils thought that their teachers were not confident at using technology in the classroom and similarly 48% of teachers said that they did not feel they received appropriate training to use technology. Hence, with such low levels of confidence it is unlikely this equipment is going to form the basis of extensive classroom activities. Supporting this, the interviews we conducted show a similar pattern with head teachers and teachers acknowledging that even when technological equipment is available ultimately the teachers decide if and how such resources are used.
We need to rebuild and repair our current system of training old teachers with technology integration by providing better support systems both online and within the schools. This way we can present teachers with more feasible opportunities to learn how to operate and integrate the internet. The outcome of this training is to help provide pupils with a personalized and engaging learning experience in which teachers have both the skills and confidence to act as digital ambassadors.
We wanted to further consider how this training could be implemented in schools. To gain an understanding of this we spoke with Sir Michael Barber, a leading expert in government and education reform. One of his central points was that teachers should not be trained once, but instead continuous training should be provided. The concept of integrating learning and work is teachers learn how to use technology and then work in classroom settings with other teachers in order to pass on that knowledge. Ultimately, for teachers to use technology in the classroom routines need to be put in place in order to check processes – hence a shared learning approach whereby teachers/educational bodies check and assist with this digital transition is pivotal for its success._________________________________________________________________________________________________
1 Law of the 9th of August 1879
2 (Laws of the 16th of June 1881 and of the 28th of March 1882
3 article 17 of the Law Sera créé, dans chaque académie, à partir du 1er septembre 1990, un institut universitaire de formation des maîtres, rattaché à une ou plusieurs universités de l'académie » (article 17)
Emphasise the Roles and Relevance of the internet in classrooms
Another important outcome from our research relates to the relevant use of technology in education; what we refer to as ‘technology for technology sake’. Indeed the latter is something we want to avoid and from our research there is clear evidence that technology is not equally beneficial for all areas of pupil development. For example, accessing the internet facilitates grade attainment and independent learning more than communication skills.
Therefore, a key recommendation is to identify the areas and skills that the use of the internet facilitates and then create specific ways for the internet to be integrated into these areas.
Some suggestions for how this can be achieved are outlined below:
- Introduce teachers to new ways of building and applying technology into their classrooms. See case studies: Top Hat, Oppia
- Educate teachers about "pedagogy" in the sense that we should explain to teachers the rationale behind using technology in the classroom - how to construct lessons, and principles behind using technology to increase the effectiveness of teaching in learning.
(1) ”You have to introduce the technology and make sure it works effectively
(2) You have to train the teachers and make sure the teachers can use it and change how they teach – to put it in a technical language, change the pedagogy
(3) You have to change the way the system works”
(Sir Michael Barber, personal communication)
Encourage integrative approaches to teaching
By 2020 all schools should be using blended learning programmes in their curriculum.
For the majority of schools, the internet is used as an additional learning tool and there is an over reliance on physical resources such as textbooks.
We recommend that schools should use a blended learning programme where possible, integrating technology, books and traditional learning to ensure that pupils develop and retain a wide range of skills. This recommendation links very closely with the idea of integration and transparency, which refers to the notion that technology should be a key part of the curriculum and it should be highlighted to students. Despite 47% of school pupils using the internet in school on a daily basis only 23% of pupils were aware that technology is a part of the curriculum.
On the one hand, an integrative approach is what we should strive for in education but on the other hand it should be acknowledged that some resources (e.g., physical textbooks) will be gradually replaced by access to online technology altogether. Overall, what is fundamental to schools is the teachers – they will always be at the core of education. From our primary data, some teachers did express concerns about ‘technology threatening the position of teachers’ but this is erroneous as ultimately it will be the approaches teachers implement into their teaching that will shift overtime not the need for teachers per se.
Emphasise online safety, cultivate digital citizenship and responsibility
Online safety is central to enabling pupils to be able to use the internet in schools; without effective provisions the development of digital learning cannot occur. Interestingly, from our research there appeared to be a lack of teacher awareness about what online safety provisions were available for pupils. We suggest that schools are responsible for this training and for making teachers aware of training developments. Furthermore, this training should extend beyond personal safety to incorporate wider issues, such as responsibility and accountability online in order to ‘‘educate and regulate’.
Pupils need to be taught about the dangers of the internet and online safety and all teachers should be made aware of what precautions and procedures are in place for pupils.
Schools should teach pupils how to conduct themselves well on the internet as well as addressing issues such as cyber bullying, in the hope that when more people are better digital citizens online, the problems such as cyber bullying can be solved from the root itself.
Online presence is an important issue because whatever pupils say online will be recorded and often it is never fully erased. This issue will become especially relevant at high school level as a history of inappropriate conduct on social media sites might impact on pupils’ employability.
The implementation of safety in the curriculum is a joint responsibility as outlined below:
“The headteacher bears a responsibility, clearly the governing body should be approving a policy about safety through internet access but quite often the internet or the provider of the technology and the infrastructure technology, should take the responsibility as well. So, the head teacher clearly needs to check that the provider of the technology has an obligation to”
Sir Michael Barber, Personal communication
Pupils with learning difficulties to benefit from technological advancements
A key finding from our research is that the majority of teachers identified students with learning difficulties as benefitting substantively from access to the internet. Such a result indicates that schools should be looking at incorporating technology more meticulously for students with learning difficulties in order to fit their needs. The use of such equipment could help bridge the gap between different types of students in terms of their learning outcomes and, on a much larger scale it points towards the need for research to help create new specialised methods.
Our suggestion is that gamification could be used to support pupils with learning difficulties. It has been demonstrated that gamification is a valid learning too; especially for students with disabilities. This point was raised by Maria Saridaki, a Research Fellow at the University of Athens:
“I work with people with intellectual disabilities, I am not a teacher, I’m a researcher so I do the hard work of observing people playing games. One of the best things you can play is a role playing game, either online, it can be you on your laptop or whatever, so it can be a role playing game in which you can talk about feelings, getting in situations that otherwise you would not feel safe to enter and then discuss about it.”
(Maria Saridaki, personal communication)
Invest in young(er) pupils for a brighter future
By 2020 for the internet to be more widely available to school pupils aged 11.
Only 7% of communication is based on the written/verbal word whereas, 93% is based on non-verbal body language. In the workplace, the use of electronic communication has overtaken face-to-face and voice-to-voice communication by a wide margin. This is due to the speed/geographic margin of businesses and a lack of comfort with traditional interpersonal communication amongst a growing segment of the employee population. Millennials will comprise more than 50% of the workforce in 2020, and studies show that these generations would prefer to use instant messaging than talk to someone face to face. Based on evidence from:
Thus, it is important to minimise the damaging effect caused by over-relying on text-based social media for social communication. For many objective administrative matters it has always been sufficient to use text, and that is why using digital technology such as emails in the workplace is so much more convenient and popular. However, businessmen still meet face-to-face which highlights the continued importance of ‘real’ meetings. Pupils need to learn interpersonal relationship skills as well. This can be achieved by exploring how technology can be used to make current virtual interactions more interactive and inclusive of visual cues such as facial expressions. On the other hand, we can maximise the communication benefits technology already brings to us, which includes improving the speed and efficiency of services such as emails and webchats. Technology is also useful in improving organisations' reach and increasing public awareness. Therefore pupils need to be informed about the ways in which business interactions and exchanges are developing and understand how to use technology and the internet.
It is crucial that school pupils are made aware of such technological advancements in order to be able to compete in the job market. Currently technology and the internet appear to be more readily available to older pupils compared to younger pupils; this was a consistent finding from our research and based on this we suggest that younger pupils should be given wider access to such equipment. The benefits of this are as follows:
- Younger pupils show a much greater flexibility and plasticity in their learning than older school pupils hence introducing the internet at a younger age might lead to a better uptake of internet usage and understanding;
- In America and other countries, there is the notion of 'Stranger Danger' where adults warn young children about the danger posed to them by adults they don't know, and tell them how to minimise it. In principle, this is a very good idea and we think is should also be more explicitly translated to dangers regarding the internet. Another reason why exposure to the internet at a younger age would be beneficial as it would engrain a sense of responsibility and awareness in pupils when using the internet;
- Pupils would be made aware of plagiarism and learn to be mindful of this throughout their early school years. This might reduce the amount of plagiarism and ‘copy-pasting’ that pupils partake in at senior levels of school and also university.
Recommendations for organisations
In this section we focus on recommendations for organisations and predominately here we are referring to educational organisations and research-based organisations. We make five recommendations for how they can help integrate the internet into education, with a specific emphasis on research, conceptual globality and online learning platforms.
Undertake research to establish the effects of the internet on pupils' learning
In order for organisations and companies to promote the use of the internet in Education, sufficient research must be carried out in order to show people (e.g., teachers, parents, pupils, policy makers) the benefits of using this resource for learning. If this research is not conducted then this will limit the impact and use of such digital media.
This research will not only be beneficial to the organisations, but also it will be informative for schools, as it is the teachers and pupils who will initially be the ’guinea pigs’ to pilot technological equipment. Schools will be able to see what works and what doesn’t, and then based on this further recommendations can be made about how the internet in education can be used to optimise teaching and learning. This type of framework will promote a feedback mechanism between organisations and schools helping to strengthen the impact of the internet on education.
In addition, carrying out research is an opportunity to highlight the potential negatives of using the internet in education. This allows organisations and schools to be selective about the way in which they use the internet for learning. The article link below highlights some of the negative aspects of using online learning and certainly reflects that both the benefits and challenges of using the internet: Studymode
Increase global access to online learning environments
From our primary data (e.g. questionnaires and interviews) teachers, pupils, parents and educational leaders all converged on the viewpoint that educational websites such as IGGY should be made more widely available. From all angles it was emphasised how important it was for school pupils to be able to connect with other pupils globally and to receive support and help from experts (e.g. teachers, university pupils etc.). We believe educational learning platforms are important for the following reasons:
- Learning from peers is a good way of learning. Equally, learning from experts offers pupils skills and knowledge that differ to a teachers’ skillset
- Connecting with pupils globally exposes pupils directly to a greater (and most likely more diverse) number of people and cultures than they might otherwise encounter. This increases their knowledge base, and often serves to instil a broader sense of empathy and tolerance in pupils
- The elimination of such organisational complications as locality and transport can make it easier to directly connect pupils to experts and specialised teachers.
Create one sole body to encourage safety online globally to educate everyone about the use, benefits and dangers of the internet. More information needed
To illustrate how we think this recommendation can be best actioned we have provided a case study example:
“The I-SAFE curriculum allows pupils to develop a familiarity with technology in a safe environment. Pupils develop an understanding of key terminology used in online communication and learn specific computer tech¬niques. Pupils are given opportunities to practice usage in activities in a safe and responsible manner.”
We believe this is the correct way to educate people especially pupils about safety online – enabling pupils to experience the internet as well as providing them with information is key.
Raise awareness about the subject of education and technology.
121 000 000 results pop out when writing ‘importance of technology in education’ on Google.com. According to this article, in the past “learning and teaching were considered impossible without a teacher, books and chalkboards”1 but nowadays it can be envisioned without (importanceofmoderntechnology.com). Education has been revolutionised – or rather, in the process of being revolutionised. But how important is technology in education today? From all of our findings and research it is evident that the internet is a very important tool for learning in schools and thus awareness about the benefits of the internet in Education need to be communicated in a transparent way to as many people as possible. We have suggested the following ways in which this can be achieved, outlining the routes to present this information and the content it should contain:
- Awareness spread by big, influential organisations
- Advertising and digital marketing
- Promotion by the government/authority (central and local)
- Promotion in schools
- Promote technology through educating the youth.
- Providing explicit case studies and emphasizing that it really can happen to anybody - real-life story vignettes to support this
- Get the larger, higher traffic websites to highlight their privacy settings/options (e.g. Family Online Safety Institute)
- Provide engaging content that raises awareness. For an example of how this could be done see: https://onethousanddaysofsyria.squarespace.com/
1. Quote from: (importanceofmoderntechnology.com)
Develop and support new methods of teaching, especially for pupils with learning difficulties.
When we speak about ‘education’, we also include pupils with learning difficulties. We believe technology is a great tool to help such pupils in their work, even if he or she has “difficulties in reading, writing, spelling, math, organisation or memory”. 2Technology may enable pupils with learning disabilities to achieve their full potential regardless of the problems they encounter, giving them “greater freedom and independency”. We believe organizations should fund, support or carry research around assistive technology in order to improve it, therefore improving the daily life of millions of learners around the world.
For an overview on Article Assistive Technology please click on the link below: ncld.org
A brief summary about the article is provided below, which echoes how we think the internet should be used to support pupils with learning difficulties (LD). Firstly, this article highlights the fact that assistive technology is highly beneficial for pupils, as it can: “minimize the extent to which individuals with LD need to ask for help (enabling them to be more independent learners), improve the speed and accuracy of work, reinforce effective classroom instruction and strengthen skill development, help pupils to 'fit in' with classroom learning and routines, and finally motivate pupils with LD to set high goals for themselves and to persevere”. It also fights the overwhelming stress that the student might experience, that is a threat to “self-confidence and self-work.”
However, it is important to keep in mind the limits of assistive technology, as it cannot “compensate for ineffective teaching: make a learning disability go away” or “automatically promote positive attitudes towards learning.” In order to support pupils with learning disabilities there is a need for more effective assistive technology. Guidance for parents should be more widespread, as they may need advice to choose an appropriate application for their children. Promoting research around this topic and making information more available thanks to the internet will definitely help.
A lot of applications are already being used by a lot of pupils with learning disabilities such as dysgraphia or dyslexia: for example, the “LD-friendly apps” include Dragon Dictation, Soundnote, Brevity, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Dexteria, Sentence Builder. However, it is important that these applications are used appropriately by the pupils, with a solid learning curriculum at school and tutoring lessons. We recommend raising awareness on this topic, developing new applications, providing support to pupils with LDs and promoting existing applications.
2. All quotes in this section are from: ncld.org
Sir Michael Barber, British Educationist and Chief Education Advisor to Pearson
Sathyam: We suggest that training teachers to use technological equipment in order to advance pupil development is key. What are the most important aspects of this statement and how can a uniform approach to training teachers about technology be achieved?
Sir Michael Barber: Well the most important thing about training teachers to use technology is not to think that you kind of train people once and then they can do it. Because most skills especially with technology, need to be trained a bit, then used it a bit, then you get trained some more then you do it a bit, so it’s got to be train, do, train, do, train, do; continuous training. Because as everybody knows, when they think about it, you very rarely learn a difficult skill by being taught once and then remembering it. You get taught at the beginning, you get started and you think ‘oh I wish I’d asked about that’, or ‘now I know how to do this’ so the further you get into something, the more questions you have and the more skill you need so the training needs to be kind of continuous but not just once off.
Secondly, it then needs to be supported by people in the school or the education institution if it’s a university so that after you’ve begun to understand how to do it, being part of a group of teachers that know how to do that or some of whom know more than you, that you can learn from and really learn in context so if you are using technology in the classroom, the best thing is to have somebody in the classroom watching you who’s really good at that, who in the end can say ‘why didn’t you think about this?’ or ‘have you thought about that?’ so actually on the job, close to the classroom training from another teacher who knows how to do that. So building into the way that teachers work as opposed to training separate from working. The way to think of it, is; the learning is the work and the work is the learning.
Sathyam: We aim to recommend that schools should use a blended learning programme where possible, integrating technology, books and traditional learning to ensure that pupils develop and retain a wide range of skills. This recommendation links very closely with the idea of integration and transparency, which refers to the notion that technology should be a key part of the curriculum – what are your thoughts on this?
Sir Michael Barber: Well, increasingly you will need a blended learning, I think the way to think about technology is something that increasingly might replace the textbook over time and some of the other learning materials but, it won’t replace the teacher but it will change the way that a teacher works. This is the one thing I want you to check out online rather just answer a question, so, a colleague and a friend of mine called Katelyn Donnelly and a leading Canadian educator, Michael Fullan, they published a report last year. It was published by NESTA, The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts in the UK, it was also published in America and it’s called ‘Alive in the Swamp’ and it’s about how to make sure, or how to make it more likely that a technology initiative in schools will work effectively. By work, I mean change learning outcomes improving the quality of teaching and learning. And they say, and this is work that they and I have been working on over a period of time; you have to do 3 things at once. You have to introduce the technology and make sure it works effectively, you have to train the teachers and make sure the teachers can use it and change how they teach – to put it in a technical language, change the pedagogy and thirdly, you have to change the way the system works and do all those things simultaneously. In ‘Alive in the swamp’ it actually sets out 3 areas and then within each of the 3 another 3, so that’s 9 in total and then the questions to ask about each of those 9 things. And, it would be a really good thing for you to look at because it’s absolutely practical about how to do this.
Sathyam: Coding is about to be integrated into the school curriculum, do you think that all pupils should be able to code? If so, what are the long term benefits?
Sir Michael Barber: I think that it is a really good thing that it is being introduced in the primary school curriculum. I don’t…I’m not yet convinced that it’s being introduced in a way that will change what happens in every primary school classroom. I can think it’s written into the National Curriculum but for a lot of Primary teachers it will be, they don’t know how to code and why should they? And they don’t know how to teach coding and I don’t see the programme of teacher development behind the National Curriculum to enable that to become practice, but I think it’s a good idea to have it in the National Curriculum and I would like to see a stronger more effective plan for implementing it in every primary classroom. There are 200,000 primary teachers in England, that’s a lot of work to get all of them able to teach coding when most of them won’t know that much about coding and many of them won’t know how to teach coding, and some of them won’t even know what the word coding means. That’s not any criticism and they’ll be good teachers but this is a very new thing. So I think that there’s not enough strategy behind the shift. But I think it’s a really good thing and the long term benefit is very hard to predict actually but it’s almost like introducing a new language into the curriculum. You might have seen it when you were in America but it’s around in this country as well, it’s a thing called ‘Scratch’ which was developed in MIT, in the media lab at MIT. It’s basically a whole coding programme for primary aged children and if you go online and check Scratch out you’ll see there’s lots of stuff there. And that’s probably, that’s the main vehicle I’ve seen that might make it real so if primary schools adopt that….I don’t want to recommend a particular product, out of MIT, I know the guy who runs it and I think it’s good but you obviously want more than one option but that’s the only thing I’ve seen where I think I can actually see it becoming real and the children could start learning in school and continue after school so that would be blended as well.
Sathyam: One of the barriers to internet access in schools is lack of knowledge around safety issues and who should be responsible. Without access to the internet in schools we feel that students cannot develop their learning. Who should be responsible for teaching safety online and decide what can be accessed? How can this be implemented?
Sir Michael Barber: Yes right, it’s a really big issue and you’re totally right of course, internet access is crucial in schools and will increasingly be important. I suppose I feel not totally confident about this, on my last two answers I felt like I knew what I was talking about on this I’m not quite sure who, but clearly the head teacher bears a responsibility, clearly the governing body should be approving a policy about safety through internet access but quite often the internet or the provider of the technology and the infrastructure technology, should take the responsibility as well. So, the head teacher clearly needs to check that the provider of the technology has an obligation too so I wouldn’t want to let them off the hook. It wouldn’t be a defence to say ‘well we just provided the technology, we didn’t know what the children were going to do’, that wouldn’t be a defence so I think that, in the end the head teachers; they’re responsible for the safety of the children in every other respect, have to take a lead responsibility for the school because that’s their job but the provider of the internet services and the technology has a responsibility as well.
Sathyam: In your opinion, is gamification a valid approach for encouraging effective learning?
Sir Michael Barber: Potentially. So there are some games that are clearly a good learning experience and then there are games that are a lot of good fun but aren’t, you know, sort of great for the content of school education. But, the technological capability represented by the best computer games if applied into the core of what we want children to learn in schools, and I’ve talked about schools so far, we should come to universities, but it’s got a lot of potential because at one level what is now becoming called gamification is the same thing as when you’re teaching an airline pilot and they’re in a virtual environment. They don’t actually fly a plane but it’s the same technology so what you can learn in that setting if you imagine how airline pilots learn to fly without taking off, because they’re completely in a setting that represents being in a plane but if they crash it, it’s ok – it’s just a machine, that’s great and that IS gamification actually so you can see how that should be a really powerful learning tool. The really important thing is not to think in any of these cases that the technology will replace the teacher.
I don’t know, if I reflect on things which I struggled to learn, like I can remember learning calculus for the first time, aged 14 or something, or 15 I found it really hard, other people found it really easy and my teacher helped me get there and then I got there. I didn’t enjoy any of it, but when I got it, it was joyful, I thought wow I can do something that really seemed complicated and now I know how to do it. And the human factor in that is really important ‘Come on Michael, you can do this’ somebody who encourages you, that’s the teacher’s role, a machine can’t do that, so it’s the combination of the teacher and the machine. Gamification should be able to help.
I’ll give you a story, there’s a football team in Baku have you heard of Baku? It’s the capital of Azerbaijan on the shores of the Caspian sea, it’s the oil capital but anyway, FK Baku were the champions of Azerbaijan 2 years ago right? And then there was a falling out with the manager and he left, I don’t know if he was fired. They ran a competition and they got down to a shortlist of two to have a new manager. One was a striker who used to play for France called Papin in the 90’s and he’d managed several European clubs and he was going for the job and the other was a 22 year old… who had never been inside a football ground but who was really, really, really good at Premier League Manager, the game. They appointed him. You should check their results, I don’t know if they are that good actually but anyway, it’s interesting though isn’t it? And more and more the virtual and the real world are going to kind of overlap.
Sathyam: A key finding from our research is that the majority of teachers identified that students with learning difficulties benefitted greatly from access to the internet as a learning tool. Such a result indicates that schools should be looking at incorporating technology more meticulously for students with learning difficulties. What are your thoughts on this?
Sir Michael Barber: Yes, I think there’s a lot of potential in this. If you have a physical or mental disability, increasingly we know more and more from a medical point of view how to overcome those but there’s still ones we don’t know how to overcome so we’re trying to get every student to learn to high standards. There are still barriers that we haven’t worked out but the technology really should be able to help, that’s the first thing. The second thing is if you do have a physical or mental disability, sometimes even though we all try really hard, we still judge people, we still make assumptions like ‘He won’t be able to do that.’ I worked for David Blunkett, who was Secretary of State for Education, he’s blind from birth. I knew him really well, and I worked with him nearly everyday. I still sometimes thought ‘He won’t be able to do that’ and then he did it and he would say ’Michael you have to remember there are no problems that we can’t solve in the end.’
So, I mention that because one of the great things about technology is that it doesn’t make any of those human judgements, it just says ‘well, you tried that, now try this’, it doesn’t say ‘oh I don’t think he’ll be able to do that’, it just says ‘well you’ve done that, that and that now you’ll be able to do this’ and that lack of judgement is actually a great relief to the person with the disability. Actually it’s a huge opportunity, not just the technical content of it, but the lack of judgement.
Sathyam: Another important outcome from our research is related to the relevant use of technology in education; what we refer to as ‘technology for technology’s sake’. We want to avoid this. From our research, there is clear evidence that technology is not equally beneficial for all areas of pupil development. How do we approach this and provide teachers with a unified way of teaching using the internet?
Sir Michael Barber: Do you need a unified way of teaching? What would that mean, what would that actually mean in practice?
Sathyam: As in a set way to integrate the internet into education for all students. Even though some will benefit, some won’t benefit.
Sir Michael Barber: I’m not sure you want a set way but you certainly want every teacher to feel confident that they can draw on the internet and other aspects of technology to improve learning but I’m not sure I’d think of a set way, I might be wrong. But the technology for technology’s sake, we do need to get beyond that, just see it as part of the way we do everything which it is increasingly becoming. I was in an audience not long ago when somebody from technology was lecturing, he said ‘how many of you’ (there were about 500 people in the room) ‘the first thing you do in the morning is switch on your smart phone or pick up your smart phone?’ It was about two thirds of the audience. He also had a picture of the new pope last year and then a previous new pope about six years ago before that who retired last year? He had a picture of when that previous pope was first seen in Saint Peter’s Square and there were couple of hands in the audience with a smart phone taking a photograph. And, then he had one of the pope from last year and everybody’s hand up, so, it is becoming ubiquitous and you want it to just become the way teachers teach, but I would debate whether you want a set way. How you’re going to use it in physics for 14 year olds is very different from maths for 8 year olds or literature so I don’t think, I’m not sure there is a set way, I might be wrong.
Sathyam: In your lecture today, you’re talking about implementing universal education within a decade, how could this be achieved?
Sir Michael Barber: Well you’ll have to come to the lecture. That’s cheating. The lecture is going to start with a ten minute film, about the Punjab education reform which I’m involved in and you can watch that on YouTube so you’ve got no excuse for avoiding that. It’s a ten minute talk from me but the shots of Pakistan are fantastic, Lahore and the rooftops in rural Pakistan and kids learning. Basically what you need is political will, so the leader of a country, in this case Punjab in Pakistan, the leader is absolutely committed and a set of people who are determined to do it and then you need to get out into that countryside, the villages and cities and get the kids into school. And when they get to school, they’ve got to find that the school works; the teacher is there, the textbook is there, there’s a boundary wall, there’s water, the school functions and too many enrolment drives in the last fifteen years have been all about enrolment and then the school is rubbish. But in Punjab which is 60,000 schools, we’re fixing that, we’re fixing the schools.
Lord Jim Knight, Managing Director of Online Learning, TSL
Sathyam: Can you please tell us a bit about your new role as Managing Director for Online Learning and the organisation you now work for?
Lord Jim Knight: Sure. I am working for TSL Education. We are known for three things - journalism on education for over 100 years as the Times Education Supplement (TES) and the Times Higher Education Supplement (THE). We also help over 90% of teachers in this country get a job. Finally we run TES Connect that is the world's largest platform for teaching professionals. There over 3.5 million teachers exchange user generated content for free. The download rate is over 10 per second on average. My new role is to build a new strand to the business improving teaching by training teachers to do an even better job in the classroom. I will start with Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and continue on ultimately to initial teacher training first here and then global!
Sathyam: How does technology play a role within your organisation? Could you please provide examples and tell us TES’s vision for the future with regard to technology?
Lord Jim Knight: Technology is key. We could not do what we do any other way either with TES Connect or with the new training business. Previously teachers could only share by photocopying and passing around to teachers they know. ‘TES Connect’ literally connects teachers to share in every country in the world.
Our vision for technology is to use it to build deeper communities of teachers who can collaborate regardless of geography to improve their profession and their place in that profession.
The 3.5 million has recently been joined by another 1.5 million who use Wikispaces, a US business that we acquired last month. One of the things that also interests me is how best to ensure that teachers are delivering for learners, and I would love to hear from IGGY as to how best to diagnose for teachers their effect on learners to help them identify how to improve. An online tool for this would be great.
Sathyam: Technology is key, and the way in which it is used is rapidly changing. For example, it now has a large communication function for both social and professional purposes. Forums such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin clearly demonstrate this. Furthermore, it is apparent that some companies use candidates’ social/professional network profiles to obtain additional information about them. What are your views on this and how do you think it will affect school leavers seeking jobs/further education?
Lord Jim Knight: Profiles are really important to technology businesses so that they can better tailor their product to meet the needs of users. We all love things being more bespoke for us. However there can be a darker side where we give our data without really realising and then companies sell that on without our knowledge. We all, including school leavers, need to understand the use of our personal data better and I would like to see more transparency about that.
There is also a bigger worry for jobseekers in that most employers now will Google you and see what your social media footprint looks like. They will see your network but not like pics of you doing bad things, or offensive posts. In this country I think it is true that more than half will do that. It is crucial that we all are careful what we post, especially publicly. I personally favour moving to outlaw the use of social media posts by under 16s in criminal justice or employment tribunals. It also explains the popularity of things like Snapchat.
Sathyam: What are the risks and benefits for school students using the internet for education?
Lord Jim Knight: It is essential for school students to use the internet. The internet is a fundamental part of our lives - it is a new dimension and we need to learn and be examined with the internet in the room. Thanks to mobile online search knowledge is in our hands, our hands are becoming an extension of our brains and what counts in employment and life is how we then apply that knowledge.
The risks are abuse and safety from predatory people - both peer bullying and dangerous adults. Like everything that is powerful we need to be educated to use it well and responsibility with consequences for those that don't.
When Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web 25 years ago he said "It is for everyone". It is free and neutral. It can be used for very good and very bad. We must all be confident and ethical users of it.
Sathyam: Do you think that there is any way considering the technological advancements that occur every day that the internet won’t be relied on heavily in the future of education?
Lord Jim Knight: Here we get into the debate around the meaning of knowledge, information, of understanding. We all know there is a lot of nonsense on the internet - it amplifies untruth as well as truth. How do we take the information that will be instant and trust it to be correct. We then need to have enough understanding to convert that information to our own knowledge, and then to share what we ‘know’ with others to create new knowledge. Education in the future is about knowledge creation not knowledge recall.
Education will have to go deeper than what is available through technology. I guess I think that teaching in the future will be about coaching learning and not content delivery. That learning will then rely on the internet for content to illustrate creative thinking and knowledge creation.
Teachers should orchestrate collaboration. They should set learners problems that are relevant to them and their lives but that then stimulate them to research content and build a shared understanding. By the way this all raises huge issues about assessment in education!
Sathyam: How do you think technology actually helps a student’s education? With regard to their development of skills, for example.
Lord Jim Knight: I see some technology that can track activity in a collaborative setting. There are also some new forms of assessment that use mobile technology to, for example, pause a timed assessment of a collaborative project and ask participants to record an audio of what they are thinking, later a video, or a still photograph. That we as an assessor can see the group outcome but get a feel for how each person in the group participated and built understanding.
If the internet was in the exam, even testing individuals it would ask questions to test thinking not recall of information. Technology helps education by reflecting the world of work. I cannot think of a well-paid job that does not need confidence in using technology. Even middle and lower levels of skill need confidence in using computers - call centre work for example or till operators. Learning must be relevant or meaningful and enjoyable.
Sathyam: Although the idea of having technology within education is good, some schools won’t be able to afford it. Are there any ways to remove this financial barrier?
Lord Jim Knight: That is a really good question about affordability. I think it will be cost neutral. Partly because devices are becoming more affordable and we are working out how to make ‘Bring a Browser’ work so that personal devices can be used for learning. But if you also move to a more paperless school you cut the cost of photocopiers, textbooks, and other bureaucracy, there is evidence of this working in the richer countries of the world but it is a bigger challenge in poorer economies. However, in some of those, humidity means that paper does not last very long and so digital becomes more cost effective.
Sathyam: What do you think has been the biggest technological advancement in schools in the 21st century and what has been its impact?
Lord Jim Knight: I think that the internet is the biggest technological advancement for education since the investment of printing. It is revolutionising our world and is having as big an impact in democratising learning.
Sathyam: e-learning refers to the use of media, information and communication in an electronic format. Examples include web-based learning and animation. Do you think schools should be adopting e-learning?
Lord Jim Knight: Yes, they should, and e-learning should include how to create all of those things: media, animation, web-based content etc. These are the engineering skills of the present and the future.
Sathyam: Do you think that technology skills as important as other skills? For example, numeracy or literacy. Is it possible that technology is now more important than those?
Lord Jim Knight: Interesting....numeracy literacy and ICT skills are equally important and changing because of each other. What we learn in maths needs to change because of computation - with a stronger focus on maths thinking than calculation technique. Literacy is crucial but will change due to voice recognition software and oracy skills like dictation may become more important. Will coding language be more important than foreign languages, what do you think?
I stress that becoming comfortable with basic coding is not so we can all be coders. Not all of us are engineers! However engineers need designers, bankers, financiers, entrepreneurs, HR, lawyers etc, with a good enough understanding of what they do to work with them. So some coding is an essential part of the curriculum.
Sathyam: What is the main significant change that you would like to see regarding Education and the Internet in the future?
Lord Jim Knight: Here I know one of our big banks are teaching many of their staff basic coding to help them be more digitally confident so that they can get closer to their digital customers - who are growing all of the time. They may not have to code but it helps to have done it. And maybe voice recognition will get so good it will hear in one language and translate in another for you, accurately and simultaneously. We then learn foreign languages as such a priority.
The next thing I really want is internet papers in school exams. I want to thereby incentive teachers to use the internet better and to teach thinking not content recall. Here I think of it as Babelfish - thanks to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I don't think babel fish is far off now.
Sathyam: You mentioned you were interested in how to best diagnose for teachers their effect on learners to help them identify how to improve. This is certainly something I’d like to discuss with you further as far as IGGY goes, but for now and linked to the Junior Commission report on Education and the Internet, the Junior Commissioners are hoping to provide recommendations for the future – do you think this approach could be a valid global recommendation for teachers to improve education?
Lord Jim Knight: Maybe. We know that teachers are the most important resource in improving learning. We know that what money is spent on their professional development is often wasted and that if we are to change teaching as we have discussed now, then teachers will need a lot of help in changing how they teach. What works is then sustained ongoing training, not a one day conference, and probably with accreditation. But, what then really has an impact if it relates to the problem learners have. So a diagnostic tool to help teachers better understand their class could be very helpful.