Engaging teachers in the use of ICT

“Do you feel that you’ve achieved everything you set out to do?” asked a governor during one lunchtime meeting. For a moment I felt trapped – was he asking if I thought I’d done my job properly? It was obvious that I might quickly reply “Yes” if that was what he had implied, but I forced myself to take a moment and reflect.  It’s no longer a secret that after almost ten years at my current school I am moving on to take up a position as a Director of ICT. Thankfully, what the governor really had asked was, during those ten years had I achieved everything I had wanted to. Had I? Well, no actually. Unremarkably, I’m one of the contingents who believe that if I had, I might have become complacent, self-satisfied and conservative.  I certainly have set several goals for myself, my department and for the school where these cover my areas of responsibility, and we have made solid progress. I’m also entirely happy that the right person will quickly be able to pick up from where I’ve left off.

There is however, one area where I would like to feel that I’d accelerated progress and change, and that is in the area of staff ICT skill development and enrichment. I’m not sure if I’m correct in assuming that some independent schools have a tougher time than state schools in this regard. “We don’t have to do that” being one of the phrases regularly heard. And yes, in many instances, not having to dance to LA or government directives has given us the ability to cherry pick the direction we want to take in ICT. However, it’s also been tricky at times to ensure that we keep apace with the best examples in state schools – bearing in mind that we support paying customers.

I could spend an entire blog entry on whether government ICT demands and expectations have relevance or not, another on the pedagogical aspects of using traditional methods of teaching versus the use of technology in learning (briefly touched on in @josepicardo’s blog post “Can I tempt you with some Web 2.0?” http://tinyurl.com/ccplsj ) but I’d rather move on and discuss my earlier point which was also touched on at the ETRU meeting on the 12th April, that of ensuring, encouraging and garnering teacher ICT engagement and use in schools.

@daibarnes referred to the use of a partnership method and it is one which I wanted to explore a little more. Loosely rewriting several of his tweets @daibarnes says: Partnering teachers in the classroom who’d like to use some ed tech tool takes various forms:  1 – http://twurl.nl/yiuds4 – and the follow up to that is here: http://tinyurl.com/dkz8o3.  This example is extreme. Mainly I let staff know that I am available to plan, prep and assist their use of technology in the classroom. They choose the tool. Once the relationship is established it is a channel I know they will take seriously, and hence a partnership is formed. Similarly @lasic describes his use of the 70-20-10 principle approach in his blog entry ‘Change is caught not taught’ http://tinyurl.com/5fjtew . Both of these are very good examples of how ICT engagement is encouraged. I’m sure that both teachers must have a great deal of respect and popularity amongst their colleagues; they obviously display best practice examples in their own teaching. In addition, @davestacey,  in a comment to @misterel’s blog post, ‘Is Moodle the Volvo of VLE’s?’ http://tinyurl.com/dhecdg  writes about more specific identification of staff ICT use being required in their GCSE planning, and in the need for staff to have an ICT related objective which is linked to their performance management. It would be interesting to know what other methods of encouragement and engagement elearning-type teachers are using.

Besides making oneself available, tying ICT use into SOW and CPD and using VLE’s to create ICT skill units, is there a specific time when ICT INSET is best delivered? Responses to computer science teacher Alfred Thompson’s blog post, ‘When should Professional Development be offered?’ indicate a full range. http://tinyurl.com/d9gtoe  Finally, is it enough that some teachers are happy to stop their use and development of ICT when they can create a simple presentation, a publication document, or complete a basic spreadsheet?



6 Responses

  1. I’d love to know the answers to the questions posed or implied in your post Kerry. But I don’t know. I can tell you what I do though, which is nothing. Bear with me.

    I used to shout from the rooftops about this new tool or that great website. I used to be what in corporate terms is know as the evangelist. That wasn’t getting me anywhere. I dumped that strategy.

    I then decided to simply lead by example and share stuff with those teachers who asked me about this or that. Soon word about what I was doing in lessons got round to other teachers, passed on by pupils! and I had teachers coming to me wanting a piece of the action. That’s more like it, I thought!

    Last term I led a session on IWBs after a few teachers emailed me to ask me whether I would be willing and this term I am leading a session on Audacity and Podcasting, after our SENCO got interested in it to help her pupils.

    You, however, as Director of ICT will have the active responsibility of getting all these things done and organised. I don’t have that pressure. I just do it if and when. But you can count on my help next year!

  2. Time is and always will be the biggest issue with motivating staff to use ICT. I have shown staff many different and wonderful ICT Apps that they would benefit from using and the majority are extremely positive about using it. However, because there is no time to build these Apps into their lessons or their access to ICT is haphazard, there is a tendency for it not to be included.

    We have now decided to try to develop ICT Advocates, who may be departmentally based and who will hopefully, through INSET, start to share good ICT practice within their curriculum areas. Think I mentioned idea here http://misterel.co.uk/wp/?p=31

    I am positive that if you can show that an ICT Application can have a positive affect on Teaching and Learning and can give time for staff to become comfortable in the use of it, then it will become the norm…it’ll just take time. 🙂

  3. Some really interesting thoughts here… I do think that independent school have for a variety of reasons been slow to take up ICT, partly due to the fact that they have not had the same level of investment in hardware over the last few years.

    I’m also not sure how well ‘requiring’ staff to use ICT as part of the PDP etc would go down in some schools. I personally favour the lead by example approach of trying to show the benefits of technology and getting others to catch that vision… In this respect the students are you best allies as if they see something they find really impressive they will talk about and if staff hear stuff from the students some are more likely to be interested.

    The approach I would favour for a whole school approach would be to find a small group of 5-8 enthusiastic teachers (who nominate themselves to be involved) and meet with them regularly to discuss what they are doing in the classroom and sharing best practice. I think this model gives you to best chance of sharing new ideas and resources with a group who are likely to do something with it and then hope that this group will grow organically… Also make sure you provide Tea & Cake at all the meetings!!

    Do let us know if there is anything I can do to help though…

  4. Thanks very much for the time taken to reply. I was thinking this afternoon about a couple of points which made sense;

    1. Lead by example, gain the attention of students and they will spark followers amongst staff.

    2. Time is the key. Primarily, many younger teachers are genuinely enthusiastic about use of ICT. They will lead the change.

    3. Self motivation and development in use of ICT is essential.

    4. Fits with point 3. Forcing inclusion of ICT might satisfy SLT and tick boxes, but could create poor examples of use.

    5. Working alone is a disaster. The equivalent of a group of ‘champions’ is vital, but their efforts should be co-ordinated.



  5. Congratulations on your new post Kerry.

    The job you face is enormous, but to continue my theme of *partnerships* started in #ETRU (http://edtechroundup.com) and continued on twitter, I think it is vital you go in singing the right song from the start. The mistake that I made in my current post (in my first independent school) was to claim I had the answers to the call of delivering ICT for every teacher. There is no straight answer to this than to make ICT enthusiasm as part of the appointment criteria in a new school.

    My experience tells me, right or wrong, that you need to persuade your new Headteacher/Governors to give a proportionate number of teachers some non-contact time to be ICT champions (or a more professional term that indicates responsibility). It may be two, three or four lessons per week given in recognition of the development of good practice that they can then liaise with others around the school to share, exactly as Jose has done for the MFL department.

    The posts should be spread around curriculum areas (one for big core departments with smaller depts grouped according to ICT use). You should also use the ICT strategy group (or equivalent) to assess each of these positions annually so as to avoid slackers. It might be an idea to propose this as a three year model due to be evaluated and reviewed.

    That’s the model I think can win.

    Good luck!

  6. […] I was inspired to write this by Kerry Turner as a response to her blogpost engaging-teachers-in-the-use-of-ict. […]

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