Monday, 29 March 2010

Are IT budgets always too small?

Will even larger IT budgets for schools solve even the most common problems they encounter? Will even more investment in equipment and networks that quickly become outdated help students and teachers improve standards? The UK is Europe's leading nation in equipping classrooms with digital equipment and doubled the budget for education over the last decade. But according to the OECD Report 2010, few improvements in learning outcomes can be directly linked to this investment. Yet, more ICT (read IT) is recommended. Who is driving this on-going IT saga? Are today's education professionals IT addicts rather than more skillful educators? Or are they right to push for even more investment, as there is no way back?

Education Executive
business management magazine written exclusively for school business managers and bursars

ICT budgets too small
Survey shows education professionals want more investment

Released 24/03/201

This is according to research conducted by NETGEAR at BETT 2010, the world's largest educational technology event. Over a third of respondents attribute the lack of investment to the restricted budgets allocated by LEAs and the Government, with 22 percent stating that the high cost of networking technologies is preventing educational institutions from sufficiently investing in these areas.

Remote access (17 per cent), training (17 per cent) and purchasing up-to-date equipment (13 per cent) are currently seen as the top priorities for investment; however these are just pieces of a puzzle when installing a successful IT infrastructure.

Over half of respondents stated that, once an education establishment has implemented these technologies, insufficient resource is allocated to maintaining their networks. Schools, colleges and universities are therefore looking to identify the right solution to suit their specific needs; at the lowest possible cost. 11 percent believe the confusing choice of networking technologies available is a key hurdle that must be overcome to achieve this.

read the full story here

E-learning like e-gov?

Is the promise of e-governance in developing economies comparable with the use of e-learning? From rich countries we know that in time most problems with e-governance get solved and leads to more efficiency. This is not always true for teaching. This article shows some interesting similarities in the stages of implementation.

Is e-government a bad idea?

Mar 28th, 2010


Bahrain’s e-gov services are the most advanced in the region. But as other Arab states play catch up, some say this digital revolution makes life harder for the public, and that millions of dollars are wasted on expensive IT systems

For about a decade, the business of selling technology to government has come increasingly into the public awareness. According to analysis by the Economist last year, a lot of money is spent on e-government infrastructure, with questionable returns.
“So far… the story of e-government has been one of quantity, not quality. It has provided plenty of reason for skepticism and not much cause for enthusiasm,” said the Economist.
“Whereas e-commerce has been a spectacular success… e-government has yet to transform public administration. Indeed, its most conspicuous feature has been a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money on big computer systems, poorly thought out and overpriced,” the report added.

read the full story here

Friday, 19 March 2010

Near death of costly African Virtual University

Use of ICT and computer assisted teaching and learning is not always proving to be a shortcut to success, especially in settings which are not properly prepared. Below is a recipe for disaster, a list to be noted - ending with a call to adopt use of proven technologies like school TV and radio as important and cost-effective means of fostering development.

: The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Vol 10, No 4 (2009), ISSN: 1492-3831

Teaching and Learning Against all Odds: A Video-Based Study of Learner-to-Instructor Interaction in International Distance Education

September 2009, By Jean-Marie Muhirwa Education Specialist, 
Equitas--International Centre for Human Rights Education

Distance education and information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been marketed as cost-effective ways to rescue struggling educational institutions in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This study uses classroom video analysis and follow-up interviews with teachers, students, and local tutors to analyse the interaction at a distance between learners in Mali and Burkina Faso and their French and Canadian instructors.
Findings reveal multiple obstacles to quality interaction:
• frequent Internet disconnections
• limited student access to computers
• lack of instructor presence
• ill-prepared local tutors
• student unfamiliarity with typing and computer technology
• ineffective technical support
• poor social dynamics
• learner-learner conflict
• learner-instructor conflict
• and student withdrawal and resignation.
In light of the near death of the costly World Bank-initiated African Virtual University (AVU), this paper concludes by re-visiting the educational potential of traditional technologies, such as radio and video, to foster development in poor countries.
Full article here

IT in education in Singapore

In Singapore e-learning is now in decline after years of implementation because teachers prefer traditional ways of teaching.
Short interview with a publisher recorded at the Frankfurt Bookfair 2008

Pupils prefer overhead projector 2

Overhead projectors are better for both teachers and students

Mona explains that in her school, Gymnasium Tito, computers did not benefit students as much as expected because of the technical breakdowns which started within a few months of installation. But four teachers had started to use the OH-projector - a great support for learning confirmed by other students.

Most students are critical about IT and computer-based teaching and learning
We are no longer in the 90s, when faith in computer-based teaching and learning was unlimited. In every one of the ten Balkan countries visited in mid-2009 and early 2010, this is an obvious reaction of the young people I talked to about their classroom experiences. All are trained and knowledgable in using computers and the Internet, either at school or at home. Typically, when asked about computer reliuability, their eyes started to twinkle and they grin (“Are you joking, they result in entertainment, not learning”) and then explain, that computer use often results in having fun and wasting time. They prefer an approach in which they can learn more effectively. To them the overhead projector makes much more sense.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Internet addiction: a new epidemic threat?

South Korea is a highly wired nation, with IT established in all its schools. Now a quarter of Korea's youth appear to be Internet-addicted. Many need medical treatment. A new epidemic threat for other countries where the Internet takes centre stage? From:

Seoul to Combat Internet Addiction

03-15-2010 17:46 , By Kang Hyun-kyung Staff Reporter

From next year, gamers and other Internet addicts will be able to install free software programs into their laptops to limit their access time to the Internet, the Office of the Prime Minister said Monday.
The plan was unveiled following the increase in addicts here, which, according to the government, has reached approximately 2 million. However, industry experts say the real figure is much higher.

read the full story here

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Pupils prefer overhead projector 1

At the grassroots: pupils prefer the overhead projector

In the Balkans: Macedonia is pursuing a policy to become the regional IT hub, betting heavily on the benefits computer-based education. Meet Veronica and Maria, both 15 years old, as in I did in the Summer of 2009: they were happy to have received a computer from the government, like all students did last year (in a kind of 'One Laptop Per Child' approach) and they had ‘NET’ and MSN - all good fun! “But in the classroom the system is very bad. Most teachers were unable to use it and the computers did not help learning at all."

To my surprise they continued explaining that what really works is the overhead projector. Their biology teacher started using it last year and said it would be ideal for ALL teachers and students. I filmed their experiences at grass roots level and promised to show them to the Minister.
Veronica's and Maria's opinions were shared by all the students I investigated in three schools I visited in Macedonia.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Overhead projector vs PowerPoint

The reliable overhead projector was in use in business before in schools. From Zachman International Enterprise Architecture:

Why I still use an overhead projector: because PowerPoint makes you look stupid

Wednesday, 10 March 2010, By ©2009 John A. Zachman, Zachman International

.... In all actuality, I really do like the visual stimulation of PowerPoint, it's just that I find it very confining as a teacher. I like to be able to hold several foils between my fingers and arbitrarily show any one of them, which PowerPoint limits. I like to be able to cover up different areas of The Framework up with my hands to illustrate various points. Also, I fill out most of my foils with complete sentences- not bullets. I want people to be able to go back and read my complete thought, not piece together the idea from memory. I work with the projector - it's my friend.

read the full story here

Connection and distraction

An interesting discussion going on at American universities since Professor David Cole banned laptops for taking notes because students were distracted by many other things.


Wide Web of diversions gets laptops evicted from lecture halls

Tuesday, March 9, 2010, By Daniel de Vise, Washington Post Staff Writer

A generation ago, academia embraced the laptop as the most welcome classroom innovation since the ballpoint pen. But during the past decade, it has evolved into a powerful distraction. Wireless Internet connections tempt students away from note-typing to e-mail, blogs, YouTube videos, sports scores, even online gaming -- all the diversions of a home computer beamed into the classroom to compete with the professor for the student's attention.

Cole surveyed one of his Georgetown classes anonymously after six weeks of laptop-free lectures. Four-fifths said they were more engaged in class discussion. Ninety-five percent admitted that they had used their laptops for "purposes other than taking notes."

"The breaking point for me was when I asked a student to comment on an issue, and he said, 'Wait a minute, I want to open my computer,' " said David Goldfrank, a Georgetown history professor. "And I told him, 'I don't want to know what's in your computer. I want to know what's in your head.' "

read the full story here

Monday, 8 March 2010

The future of Becta

Becta, the British institution for promoting and integrating IT in education, points out that budgets are likely to become tight, especially for IT in most schools. John Spencer evaluates the achievements of Becta. Please note that the phrase "ICT" is commonly used where-as only IT, computer driven appliences, are targeted in efforts to replace the traditional ICTs.


Becta and school ICT: end of the line for the gravy train?

March 05, 2010, Posted by: John Spencer

… But here is the rub… there is an election coming and our lost tribes are getting more than a little nervous as they survey the national debt, public sector cuts and party manifestos.

The Conservative party, who may well win the election have already pledged to shut Becta so maybe this is a good time to reflect on the doings of our old friends.

Long before the 2008 crash, trouble was brewing. Those naughty appointed vendors may have taken a few liberties with their market dominance and educationally discounted software.Schools were now virtually all locked into Microsoft's Operating Systems and Office upgrade cycle...things were getting expensive.

read the full story here

Edu-tainment or progress in learning?

"Personal and real" How far should we bring down the role of the teacher and our own human senses? Can we be cynical and smirk after reading news like this?
From Singapore:

20 per cent of school curriculum to use IT by 2015

Fri, Mar 05, 2010 my paper BY PAMELA CHOW

STUDENTS of Yusof Ishak Secondary School are learning how to cook simple dishes during their home-economics lessons in virtual reality, thanks to a cooking game on the popular video- game console Nintendo Wii.
Madam Tay Pei Yun, a home-economics teacher at the school, said: "Students are more engaged and they look forward to the lessons... They've developed interest in the subject."

At Tao Nan School, pupils go on excursions to the zoo or the Botanic Gardens during science lessons, armed with Global Positioning System (GPS)-enabled personal digital assistants that give them tasks related to nearby plants or animals.

For them, "the experience becomes personal and real", said Mr Kwek Teng Hui, the level head for science at the primary school.

read the full story here

Friday, 5 March 2010

Just a fun news item to start of the weekend.
From SmartPlanet:

A great breakthrough written on a blackboard

Mar 2, 2010, By Dana Blankenhorn

We have grown used to science being done using computers.
Especially computer science.
The idea that a computer science breakthrough might take place on a blackboard boggles the mind.

Read the story here

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Spending, benefits and reality hitting home

Well, it seems that IT in education will be high on the political agenda in the UK. After blowing budgets on all kinds of splendour of promising new technologies in the classroom, questions are being asked about what we actually invested in. Do you know? From BBC News Blog dot.Rory:

Are we building schools for the future?

Wednesday, 3 March 2010, Rory Cellan-Jones

In the last decade there's been a technology revolution in schools. Billions have been spent on computers for teachers and pupils, on installing wireless networks, on putting electronic whiteboards in just about every classroom - and on the IT suppliers who run school systems. But now there's mounting disquiet about this huge investment programme - and questions are being asked not just by politicians but by teachers about whether it's delivering what children need.

"But when you throw in projectors, electronic whiteboards, a wireless network and a swipecard electronic registration system it all adds up to a lot of money - £1.5m for the initial fitting-out, and then big running costs every year."

"A common theme was of over-ambitious new building schemes that were so inflexible that the technology was out of date or not fit for purpose by the time schools opened. I heard of huge frustrations about contracts with IT suppliers which head teachers felt did not deliver what their schools needed."

"Nobody I spoke to wanted to go back to chalk and talk, dump the computers, and leave children to make their own way in the digital age. But there was a growing recognition that spending big sums on kit did not necessarily deliver better education.

The symbol of the school IT spending spree is the electronic whiteboard. But I met plenty of teachers who were not convinced that an interactive board costing several thousand pounds was essential, especially in an education system where a teacher standing at the front lecturing silent rows of rapt children is now seen as old hat."

Read and listen here

related to this previous post

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Summit on IT in eduction

In June 2009 an international summit on ICT (read IT) in education, EDUsummIT, was held in The Hague, Netherlands.
The summit gathered professionals, policy makers and researchers in the field of information technology and education to jointly discuss the implications of research findings for practice, policy and further research.
It's really worth browsing around the summit's website, watching interviews and contemplating the calls for actions. It's a delight to find views on ICT in education that are realistic - especially about its complexity. Even ways of researching the impact of ICT in education are intricate.

We enjoyed listening in to
Prof. Margaret Cox, King's College London – United Kingdom
- What do we know from research, and what research do you think is still needed for ICT in education?
- How do you propose this research should look like? Should these be case-studies, should these be experimental designs?

As always, we remain anxious to learn about the actual pedagogic and didactic strategies and benefits of ICT in education.

Visit the website for extensive information

Monday, 1 March 2010

Hype cycle

It's not news but is very interesting. From the Times Higher Edcation Supplement:

Second Life out as techies embrace cloud email

20 August 2009, By Zoë Corbyn

Virtual worlds are about to plunge into a "trough of disillusionment", lecture podcasts are fast becoming obsolete, but cloud computing will soon be on the "slope of enlightenment".
These are the findings of an analysis of the "hype cycle" of technology in education, published by Gartner, an IT advisory firm.
The annual study looks at the popularity of emerging technologies, from internet TV and e-books to microblogging sites such as Twitter, across a range of sectors. It tracks their progression as a function of expectations.
The cycle ranges from over-enthusiasm as technology is hyped, through a period of disillusionment when it fails to deliver, via a slope of enlightenment to a "plateau of productivity", as users learn how best to employ it.
The results for the education sector provide some interesting insights.

And an even interesting input can be found in he comments on the actual report. Some quotes:
"What is both unbelievable and incredible frustrating, is higher education's lack of focus and research towards developing suitable means for digital learning. One could expect these institutions to have enough integrity and knowledge not to just jump on any wave of hype: LMS, Blogs, Wikis, Podcast etc, and after a while find themselves surrounded by more or less useless digital means for teaching and learning. Why are these institutions not developing proper applications for specific learning goals? Why do they, again and again, think that what we have, or can find on the web, is what should be used? Development and design of applications for learning and teaching is an art in it self, and the matter needs to be addressed as such. …"

"I find this article and the comments on it quite remarkable. Not one of the contributors considers whether educational technology is based on anything we know about learning; and not one considers what kind of learning might ensue. There is a underlying suggestion that knowledge is the same as understanding; and not even a hint of the simple fact that the makers of IT are in it for the same reason as the makers of corflakes. …"

"…But then, it is unfortunately common to this day to think that learning and teaching are almost self-evident activities, and it is rare to come across accounts of the use of technology in an educational setting, written by people who are conversant with the literature on learning, and who have a reasonably viable theory of it. What therefore prompts the introduction of technology into educational settings is, usually, not how it might dovetail with what has been established about the nature of learning, but a general belief that, as technology can be used for washing laundry and mixing cement, and in that way ease our lives, so technology can also be used to ease learning. A very great deal of money is used in this illusionary way, but then, this is only one among the many illusions we all live by."
Eric Sotto

"The last two posters get to the heart of the problem. The best lectures and practicals are ones that capture the students imagination and encourage them to take part and "do" things. Information delivery is important but subsidiary. I kid you not but I have seen a good educator captivate a group of sixty students using nothing but a whiteboard. I have also seen good and novel use of IT but IT is just a tool."

"I think that the use of virtual worlds have yet to be integrated into a pedagogy and design that is integrated in a mixed reality form of education. I think that alone they are only a piece. One of the critical pieces for virtual worlds adoption is intuitive input devices which will enable an ease of use. I think disillusionment is with the current generation, cost, options, and maturity of technology. What has not kept up with the technology is instructional models and designs that do not set the use of technology apart but integrates it into instructional spaces where it is appropriate. :"
Paulette Robinson

read the full story here