ICT isn't merely changing chalk for mouse and blackboard for screen
Reportaje realizado a monicaK por Petru Dimitri de la Comisón de Educación de la Comunidad Europea en Febrero 2003
- What do 'distance learning', 'online learning' and 'e-Learning' mean to you?
Online learning? The word says it! You learn online, by means of any ICT tool, elists, email, websites, forums, etc.
e-Learning means courses with special targets (for school pupils, teachers, corporation managers, factory employees, doctors, U students, etc.) to be finished in a fixed time, with a definite purpose and curriculum, taught online.
Definitely distance learning is a way of living, I think it'll be very hard for me nowadays to study at a brick and mortar university or school.
- Is our life becoming increasingly dependent on technology?
As to ICT, I'm one of the privileged 2 % people in my country (Argentina) to have Internet access and one of the privileged 10% who owns a computer. Apart from Sweden, the US and some other lucky country, I think these are common numbers for "developed" countries. Think of the Third World countries! So when you say "our life" you are talking about a very few, privileged number of "lives". But yes, my work as ISO consultant, as teacher's teacher, as translator, editor and as moderator/facilitator depends exclusively on my computer. I can't hand write any more!
- Do you have some experience in integrating modern technologies to your daily classroom work? If so, how do you manage it?
So Geography teacher would ask her pupils to visit the sites of several countries and prepare a lesson using power point with images, texts, songs, historical sites, etc. The Art teachers (they were largely the most creative) were the ones to profit more from using computers. They started by teaching their students to use Paint to draw with the mouse instead of a pencil and then using image editors to get different effects, mixing colors, etc. You can't imagine the wonderful works of art they got!!! After learning to use these tools most of them didn't want to study xilography or engraving techniques. "After all" they said "you get the same effect using the PC and printer!" .
The English language teacher used the Web and emailing with kids around the world as a "hook" to get her pupils interested in learning a new language. The Tech teacher taught the kids (most of the time the kids taught him! :-) to draw complex blueprints just using the most unsophisticated tools Windows provides. And most teachers found it was easier to get their pupils to the computers lab than to the very small and very poor library we have here. Of course students found visiting the web much more interesting than leafing through old books to do their researches!
The greater achievement was that ALL pupils were asked to give in their home work written with a word processor. Most of them loved it and even devised rosters to use the 10 available computers after class hours. You see, they could use their remaining time to navigate! Teachers were asked to submit their lessons and quiz plans the same way too. It made them "conversant" with computers and it was a starting point for those who wanted to learn more about ICT.
Anyway, I don't believe in exchanging blackboard and chalk by mouse and screen. What's really great of integrating ITC to the classroom is that for the first time in history children don't depend on adults to learn! If you give them the proper tools they can go and learn by themselves! This is something that makes us, teachers, humble!
About the "other" ;-) modern technologies they use a lot educational videos.
- If so, how do you manage it?
- How do you collaborate with other colleagues in your school over project work involving ICT?
- Does ICT improve communication and cooperation between pupils inside and outside school?
Outside school: kids communicate and cooperate with others kids around the world learning all you already know about respect for dissimilarity, multiculturization, etc.
- Tell us about your successes and failures, so we all learn together.
My greatest failure was: a) not making some teachers (and principals! ) understand that this is a wonderful tool, nothing demoniac or promoter of laziness in it! b) Failing to make understand some "Computers" teachers that ICT isn't an end in itself but merely a means to impart "quality education" integrating it to every class. After all you don't need to know how a carburetor works to be a good driver!
- Should all teachers and pupils have a laptop?
Of course they should have a laptop! But first all kids should have enough to eat, parents should have better paid jobs, and teachers... the list is long!
- How can ICT help better integrate pupils at social risk and/or children of migrants, gypsies, travellers and/or pupils with special educational needs into the school system?
Children of migrants, gypsies, travellers: Establishing a national wide "school on the net" to allow them to "attend school" no matter where they are. It will also benefit kids that are long- term hospitalized. I think the project mentioned at the chat is wonderful!
Pupils with special educational needs: Though this isn't my subject I know there are lots of special devices/projects/programs to help them to integrate. Some were mentioned at the chat too.
- Are new technologies a support for international educational collaboration?
How does it fit in your curriculum? Remember I'm a retired teacher now but I've seen many projects promoting international educational collaboration - even international collaboration for kids, period.
- Are computers still motivating elements?
I'm not so sure about teachers... :-) Some regard them as something that encroach on their time, challenge their teaching abilities and makes them to change their paradigm about learning-teaching activities.
- What is your vision of future education with ICT?
I think that the future is now in the sense that ITC came to stay and the better we, teachers, learn to use it, the best results our students, and the world at large, will achieve.
- What will change?
- Will it be better?
ICT is just a tool for achieving a better education and a better understanding among people of different cultures, etc, but what a powerful tool! As with any tool you can always misuse it. Think of a hammer, you can make a table with it or break someone's head. With ICT you can volunteer for the Red Cross or establish a terrorist cell through it. But I hope (and the results up to date prove it) that it can help to eliminate boundaries among people/nations/gender/generations.
- Will it be worse?
- Will we manage?
And thanks, Petru, for asking what I think! And to the rest of you for giving your time and attention to my words!