Monday, 3 October 2005

Implementing ICT

Well I've been in study mode again - here are some of my thoughts on a question "Discuss your experiences of implementation of ICTs"

Implementation within our cluster has involved in the first place building relationships across our schools, Principals working together to develop a vision about the way they want their schools to work. I think this is what Julia Atkins calls ‘Educative Purpose’ – the WHY, Why are we doing this? Once you work out the why – which is based on our beliefs, then the what & the how will follow. Knowing the answers to our WHY questions maintains a focus and keeps us moving forward in the same direction. Principals & some ‘lead’ teachers went on a Bus Tour around other schools which had been held up to be showing examples of good practice. The discussions we had while & after visiting these schools and the workshops we have had since, has really helped them in forming a bigger picture of what we think is important in their schools. Principals are the ones who give license to our teachers to be innovative, creative and take risks; they provide the access to resources – improving infrastructure, finding money for extra PD release time; they communicate with the community about what is happening in our schools and so in effect ‘we are all dancing to the same tune’. Well that’s the rosy picture the reality of it in some schools is what is happening for the individual teacher in the classroom and what is the effect for our kids. We are asking questions now like “Why do I not see any changes in many of our classrooms?” “What are the benefits for our kids – does it improve learning outcomes, how do you measure it, should you measure it…?” At the end of the day its about making a difference in our classrooms – if all of our teachers have laptops, if the whole school is networked, if they have access to data display, mobile pods of computers, they have loads of PD opportunities, facilitator support in the classroom – then what, save a magic wand (by the way I do keep one of these in my office & try & use it from time to time but unfortunately it doesn’t work) what else do we need to do????

Do we keep working with our teachers but with a higher expectation that they will come on board? I know that in some of the Bendigo schools these expectations are explicit & accountable by way of goals in Performance Review. (Carrot & stick?) We look to key teachers who are doing great things to lead the way, provide opportunities to open up our classrooms to each other, opportunities to share, observe, time to do it! Recognition for the steps forward however small they may seem we have to remember the continuum our teachers are on has quite a large spread. I also think we need to involve our teachers in the ‘Visioning’ process as a whole school help them to develop a shared belief – this is a sticky one too – how much is genuine, how much is lip service, if spin-doctoring is required then its all a bit of a sham – can you really expect that teachers should share similar beliefs about teaching & learning??? Why should you?

Well this posting has not really been about the nuts and bolts of implementation but maybe more about the fertile ground you need to have in order to implement… I was listening to David Warlick the other day talking about technology in classrooms by way of categorizing ideas into “Can we do it today or tomorrow?” Meaning how easy is it to implement – if it’s going to take too much time and trouble, and the teacher’s don’t perceive improved outcomes – what is the point – don’t waste our time! So this might be a good place to start thinking about the what & the how of implementation – certainly the tools we now have at our disposal are becoming more available and easier to use, but we need to match this with our learning goals to make it meaningful also.
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