Training for technophobes

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 Training for technophobes

Ever bored with your staff meetings? Feel the need to try something different - especially for ICT inset? Peter Winter describes his approach - be ready for something different.

The staff meeting approaches

Tic tic tic. Its 3.22pm tic tic tic. It is getting nearer…. Its nearly here…. Sweat begins to ooze from all your pores. Tic tic tic.  Heart rate up; tic tic tic…blood pressure up… back of the neck getting redder and redder tic tic tic….another staff meeting. tic tic tic….oh no its ICT! tic tic tic and  its me!

Why Me

My name is Peter Winter and I have been a primary school teacher for nearly twenty years. In that time I have taught across KS1 and 2. About five years ago I started to use the single computer in my class, mostly for the introduction and plenary. The more I developed resources to ‘hook’ the children into the lesson the more my enthusiasm grew. I began to ‘bagsy’ any free periods in the ICT suit (at the time there was plenty). I began to use a range of software applications to add what is known in technical circles as ‘Va va voom’ to my lessons.

My head walking past the window of my classroom seeing this day after day, rather than having a quiet word and telling me to get back and do some ‘real’ teaching made a courageous decision to change my career. I would teach ICT full time. I was to be a specialist.

Technophobes v. technoluvvies

"The key point is that new technologies for education are arriving and changing really fast – too fast for even teachers who want to learn to use all of them to effectively do so. (And, of course, there are many teachers who don’t want to use new technologies at all.) Taken from: Emerging Technologies for Learning Volume 2 (Becta)

The words Geographobe, Histrophobe and a whole lot of other phobes do not exist but Technophobe absolutely does and for many members of staff it causes real stress. As a trainer you have to be aware that for many of your staff a lack of confidence or motivation engenders a real resistance to taking on board the plethora of new technologies raining down on our schools.

At the other extreme you have staff that are confident, have excellent skills (in some cases nearly as good as the children!) and are genuine enthusiasts. The question is; how can you deliver a session that will inspire, boost confidence and raise the skill level for all? The answer is; you can’t. This is not being negative, just pragmatic. In my opinion the whole school training session fulfils only one element of a successful training/development programme. You need to have a range of strategies to ‘catch’ as many people as possible. An over reliance on the one off, sporadic ‘ICT staff meeting’ for in house training, is in my opinion responsible for the under use of new technologies in many schools. With the pace of technological development this single approach to ICT training could never hope to equip staff quickly enough.  

Teachers are wary of using digital media and new technologies during their lessons and risk failing a generation of computer-literate schoolchildren.’

Professor David Buckingham. Institute of Education.

Size Really Is important:

The ICT suite session can produce what I like to call the ‘ICTberg effect’. The tip of the ICTberg is the one or two people who are hands on – playing, experimenting, doing. The vast bulk of the ICTberg is made up of 3,4, 5 or 6 other members of the group who are watching.

To quote Aristotle (isn’t Google great)

‘For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.’

 

There is a great likelihood that those staff who are the least confident or least motivated will filter to the very back of these groups. Here are some suggestions for how you could tackle some of the issues of in house ICT training.

One Off Provision: The Whole School Staff Meeting:

The following are some key points for your ICT staff meeting:

  • If possible, after the introduction, try to get the staff to work in smaller groups and spread them round your school. People are generally more involved in smaller groups and more open to accepting support from yourself or their colleagues. 
  • Backup any skills training by creating an online tutorial that mirrors your introduction. Staff can learn at their own pace and a tutorial is non judgmental and unlike you does not get frustrated. There are lots of screen capture applications on the market e.g. Camtasia Studio 5 or the free open source Camstudio that will allow you to create these resources. It may take time but these are resources that can be used again and again
  • Make sure the context for learning a new ICT skill is fun and relevant to teaching. A recent training session involved the use of Audacity, the open source audio recorder and editor. The staff were asked to come up with an anti-bullying rap and use Audacity to record it. Giving them the chance to demonstrate their creativity (show off) and the relevance to the curriculum (anti bullying week), their interest in learning the skills to operate Audacity was much higher. This led to a greater commitment by the majority of staff to take on board these new skills.
  • If possible differentiate the task specific to phases e.g. early years staff record a nursery rhyme, Y6 record a sonnet!
  • Match the task to topic-  dinosaur sound effects in Y2 term 2, interview Howard Carter in Y3 term 2 etc.  

If ICT is to impact on teaching it must first impact on teachers.

Continuous Provision

Ask Dr Peter! If possible make yourself available for one to one support. This can be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. An alternative is to create an email account designed specifically for staff to ask for help (gmail is free and easy to set up).  Once again the replies you give can be enhanced by adding screen captures using either pictures or video tutorials. A super way to do this is to use ‘jing’

jing  is a free download that enables you to create video tutorials and email them directly to colleagues.

‘Snagit’  is another excellent tool that enables you to capture images and annotate over them.

Promote examples of good ICT practice in school and from other schools through the use of blogs, Virtual Learning Environments (VLE), newsletters etc. There are a number of free blogging sites where you can set up a blog in a matter of minutes; Wordpress is a particular favourite of mine.

There is an incredible amount of superb, free, online resources out there on the internet. Knowing your school means you can filter and aggregate these resources and point staff in the right direction. With the proliferation of VLE’s these resources can be organised for easy access.

Don’t listen to Harry Connick Jnr. It doesn’t have to be you. Use those teachers who have taken a risk and tried new things as ‘champions’ to inspire other members of staff. Work closely with the other coordinators to embed ICT in their curriculum areas.

You cannot expect others to be adventurous if you are not. Blogging, podcasting and wikis can be adapted to demonstrate and display your pupils learning. VLE’s allow a ‘walled garden’ community to see this work, but the real joy is to share with wider communities.

The Bounce

Single staff meetings always produce a ‘bounce’ in the use of a particular ICT resource, but in general the uptake is from only a percentage of the staff and in time its use once again falls back. By deploying a range of strategies to promote teacher’s skills you can maximise the rate at which new technologies can be incorporated into the classroom.

For the first time in teaching we have a situation where the student may be in possession of greater skills than the teacher. With skills comes creativity. Learn to lay a brick and you can build a wall or the Taj Mahal. Our students are able to quickly master, use and apply technology; they have absolutely no fear of trying new things. If we as teachers do not embrace these new vehicles for learning we will be failing our children as we will be unable to fulfil our part in the learning partnership.

 

 

‘jing project’: http://www.jingproject.com/

Snagit: http://www.techsmith.com/

Wordpress: http://wordpress.com/

Monteney Moodle: http://monteney.sheffield.sch.uk/momoo/

 

  

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