Saturday, March 26, 2011

What is the reality of ICT in the English classroom?

I always thought, I will use computers in my classroom, show my kids a youtube video to get them inspired, and perhaps they can even type up their responses. I felt this was a good integration of ICT and would give my students some experience with the necessary ICT skills that they would need in their future social and workplace environments. I was wrong; this is a good start, but it is superficial learning, almost using ICT for the sake of using it. Realistically, most of the students within my class would have already gained these skills before Stage 4. 

For me the switch has only just clicked. For the last four years at university, we have been discussing education then tacking ICT onto it. I have just started two courses that link ICT with Education, ICT and Education are not being perceived as two separate things. Therefore, I have just made the connection and had an epiphany, not in the Christian sense, but to the power, usefulness and essentialness of ICT education. It is necessary to every learning environment and curriculum today.  

Considering Cuttance’s statement:

“The integration of I.C.T. into all major social institutions and organisations means that the necessity to equip young people with the capacity to understand and utilise the potential of such environments is no longer an option, but is now an imperative.”
(2001, p73)  

What responsibility do we have as practitioners to give our students the skills and understandings of contemporary ICT? Yes there is an Digital Education Revolution, yes there are smart boards in most classrooms, teachers do have laptops, and there are many switched on teachers out there. But, what is the reality? What is really happening out there? Do teachers know how to successfully integrate ICT for meaningful learning? Ken Robinson in his TED Talk, Changing Education Paradigms suggests that the institution of education is “trying to meet the future by what they did in the past” (2010). Many of us are ignoring that our students are “living in the most intensely stimulating period in the history of the earth, they are being besieged with information and calls their attention from every platform, computers, IPhones, advertising, from hundreds of television channels.“ (Robinson, 2010). If we do not include multiple ICTs and applications in our pedagogy are we alienating children who don’t see any purpose to going to school? 

As a teacher with the NSW DET we are required to use some ICT in our classroom, but morally I know our students deserve so much more. Patrick Larkin on his blog Connected Principals suggests that  "We have all heard about the fact  that we are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet.  Following this line of thinking, can we really do this if we are not modifying our own current job descriptions?  We are our own biggest obstacles in moving forward." This is their future, they are the future of our society. We need to keep ourselves and our students current with the rest of society, businesses and the world.

At this stage the NSW Board of Studies (BOS) English, Stage 4, 5 and 6 Syllabi have one or two ICT outcomes. These outcomes can easily be achieved through the superficial activities of word processing or watching a video online. There are a couple of small paragraphs in the syllabi in under the ‘cross –curriculum content’, which once again can be met by using Word, PowerPoint and Google in one or two periods throughout a unit of work. I experienced this curriculum first hand as a student, and now as a student teacher and this is how many teachers are still happily fulfilling the outcomes. These teachers are not bad or negligent teachers, many genuinely believe they are giving their students the necessary ICT skills for the future. I think one of the key issues is cost and the fast pace of technology. I am not disregarding the many updated, innovated current teachers, i.e. all you bloggers out there. I am simply suggesting there are factors suppressing the successful use of ICTs in learning. Its not as simple as answering, but I want to know: How can we overcome these issues?

Even since I was at school, technology has changed and made things available that I could never have imagined. Take for instance Web2.0, touch screens, mobile tablets, applications and touch phones. The multiple ways we can access, create, share and collaborate information allows for a deeper understanding and interaction with concepts or ideas then we have ever had before.  How do we convince current teachers, early career teachers and communities that in integrating ICT learning is not being lost, but enhanced? That it is never too late to learn and interact with ICT and it is necessary part of society?

In my next blog I will approach ways to incorporate ICT into the English and History classroom and meet the syllabus outcomes.

Just a quick list of ICTs that can be used in the classroom:
Internet - Web2.0:  Blogs, Wikis, Edmodo, Prezi, Diigo, Twitter, , Youtube, Moodle
-          Ebooks, Video chat, Messanger , Email
Intranet/ portal -  Only people within the school network can see.
-          Host moodle site which might include the school applications, library bookings, email, cyber safety links, tale, student portal.
Note books - Content creation, viewing (Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative suite etc)
-          Access to software packages such as the internet, word processing
Mobile phones
Video cameras
Digital cameras
Sound recording – microphones - Podcasts
Video conference
Scanners, printers and photocopiers

Cuttance, P (2001) “Information and Communication Technologies” School Innovation: Pathway to the Knowledge Society, Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs pp.73-100.

Larkin, Patrick (2011) "Are you on The Path to 1:1", Connected Principals, accessed on 26/03/2011 

Robinson, Ken (2010) “Changing Education Paradigms” from, accessed on 26/03/2011:


  1. Wonderful statement:
    'As a teacher with the NSW DET we are required to use some ICT in our classroom, but morally I know our students deserve so much more.' 100% exactly right. This isn't about innovation or being a 'better' teacher than others, it is about now, the future, learning as discovery, knowledge as fluid, evolving with each individual or group.
    This is the same moral or professional debate I have with my self: 'These teachers are not bad or negligent teachers, many genuinely believe they are giving their students the necessary ICT skills for the future...'. I so want to believe this. But every time I hear my colleagues, of all ages, stating that for example, blogging is stupid and pointless and not needed, blogging isn't the way to engage students or to present our content driven courses. I find it hard to realise it is a perception that deserves attention so that perception changes.

  2. Don’t get me started I have so many ideas and opinions, this is a good example of why blogging is excellent for people!
    I agree with you, I am not trying to be a better teacher than others, I just see the power in technology and morally I want to give all students the best opportunities. Take for instance the following example:

    When you said join with with twitter and Nicole said start a blog my first thought was "what planet are these people on? I don't want to have an online life, or update my status..." But because I like to try things I ignored my first instincts and it is the best thing I have ever done since starting uni. I really have understood and become more engaged in my learning. I can't express how much knowledge I have gained. I have researched, created, shared and collaborated all in the last month surrounding educational content and I have gained more in this time than I have whilst being at uni. Now if I can do that in a month, imagine what my students can do in a year with these opportunities. Imagine what I could know today if I had done this since day one? Just imagine what future students have who are doing this already!

    On the note of colleague teachers, I think there is a lack of education for many teachers who don't understand what is really going on in society. Think about it this way. Many teachers only job since school has been a teacher, they have only ever being required to interact and learn in the way schools have expected them. The education institution, because that is exactly what it is, has not progressed and it is mainly stuck in the stone age. So, the changes that are happening in society, which began 30years ago are only just coming into the schools. This is massive for many teachers, even the new ones, their experience of school was exactly the same as the older teachers. It’s a horrible cycle which is only just starting to break a little. There is always resistance to change, people are uncomfortable, they think it will be hard work. Personally, ICT has made my educational/professional life more engaging, creative and easier, I just had to take the chance.

  3. An obvious, but interesting article of the impact of professional development with ICT.

  4. Just a quick thought - it is difficult for teachers to understand the power of web 2.0 if they do not engage with it themselves. In my experience, most do not have the time or the interest. It is hard to inspire students or effectively use ICT if teachers do not use it themselves.

  5. That is a great point, and can be considered on a larger scale. If teachers don't engage in ICT in their everyday lives, why would they see the point of it? Many teachers still do not have the need and are not required to use it in their working lives. I guess some responsibility of the employer (private or public education systems)needs to be pushed, shouldn't schools require all of their staff to use ICT in their everyday working lives, the smallest example being email.