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Sunday, March 25, 2012


Well, another IATEFL conference has come and gone. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the conference in person but have been trying to catch interviews here and there.

There were a lot of interesting talks and interviews happening this past week but I'd like to share with you the interview with Nik Peachy as I thoroughly agree with everything he mentioned and it certainly rings true to what I feel has happened in many of the schools in Catalonia. Nik mentions that a lot of money has been invested in technology over the past couple of years and yet there’s not much evidence or no real impact can be seen from an educator’s point of few. I’ve seen this first hand, both as a mother and a teacher. In my eldest daughter’s high school, the 1x1 computer pilot program started 2 years ago. Both the parents and the government joined together in buying laptops for the 120 students involved in our local high school. I dutifully set up parent-safety control on my daughter’s computer and got ready for some long-awaited changes to come about with regards to the way students in the school had been learning. I waited and waited and week after week when I asked her if they’d used the computers that week, her answer was always the same: No! The reasons ranged from teachers not wanting to use the computers when they already had a perfectly good book to work with to the more technical problems such as the internet/broadband connectivity being down or not strong enough to support an entire classroom of computers. Two years later, she reports that half the students’ computers are either lost or broken and from what I can see, it’s mainly being used for facebook and social networking from home. The program has been cancelled and many students, my son being one of them, have not even got to the stage of receiving their laptops this year. As my daughter’s computer is rarely used at school, it’s become a permanent fixture in her bedroom and I now have a very disappointed son who feels it’s unfair that his sister has one. From a teacher’s point of view, I’m also very disappointed as my class at the school where I work was supposed to get on board with the 1x1 computer program and since it’s been cancelled there are no computers or intentions to get computers anywhere in sight! It’s all very depressing. Upon entering this school three years ago, I had just finished my Masters in Technology and Tesol and I was so excited to help bring both students and teachers into the 21st Century but it’s been quite a big let-down and I privately end up doing as much as I can with the little technology I have available.

Nik also mentions that IWBs have been thought of as the solution to integrating technology into schools. Boards are bought, set up in the classrooms and then teachers are supposed to just get on with it, with no proper training or professional development with regards to teaching their subject using the boards. Again, the same thing has happened at the high school where I teach. The boards are on the wall, the markers have been taken away and hidden and the laptops removed from the room until someone finds the time to train the teachers how to properly use it. Pick me, pick me I want to say; only it seems that fellow colleagues are reluctant to learn from a ‘newbie’ and quite frankly most of them seem relieved that they haven’t been made to learn how it works yet. I’m not joking. One of them said to me, “Why do I need to learn how to give my class on an interactive board if I already have my lessons planned and I use a book?” Again; very depressing. Nik’s advice for our teachers is that we give them more training. OBVIOUSLY! These laptops and IWBs have been thrown into the educational system without even contemplating teacher training. Few teachers are truly ready to use 1x1 laptops in a confident way and in the way in which they were intended. It’s the same with the boards. Many teachers who do in fact have their boards up and running are simply using them as they would a regular computer, projector and screen. There’s nothing interactive in the way that they are using the boards. It’s not entirely their fault. They haven’t been trained. He states that teachers need to be trained so that they can support the students outside of the classroom.

Nik’s advice and vision for future students is that they will be allowed to bring in their own devices; cellphones, ipads, kindles, etc… and that teachers will ‘teach’ them how to become autonomous learners, able to learn the educational value of the tools that they are already familiar with. It’s a great dream Nik. Have you ever taught in a Catalan/Spanish school?! I’d love to share your vision but I see it as an ‘almost’ impossible feat in my current teaching situation. He also mentions that there needs to be more thought put into the way homework is given to the students and that it has to be used in a more integrated and practical way so that students develop digital literacy at home and are able to bring their experience into the classroom.

I enjoyed the interview a lot but it’s made me see that things are not happening in a very quick and progressive way from where I’m standing. Unless I one day open a private school as Nik has done, these changes may not come about until at least the 22nd Century!

Interview with Nik Peachey | Glasgow Online

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