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November 19, 2007

Comments

Ray Tolley

I like the ide of the ICT introduction Wheel. However, many of the items require further qualification. Typically, what do we mean by 'Policy and Straegy'? There can be a very well written policy and strategy, but not in keeping with more liberal ideas. And again, 'Availablity and distribution of equipment' is highly subjective - and even if we defined 'average' as a 3:1 ratio there are so many other factors such as access to rooms etc. Furthermore, goalposts do move! At one time 3:1 was though to be impressive, now some schools are moving towards a 1:1 accessibility. And again, 'disciplinary requirements' needs expanding.

I suppose that in some circumstances, say if a Local Authority wanted to make an analysis of all of its schools, that taking a snapshot with an agreed set of criteria for each of the points listed might work?

Steven Warburton

Thanks for your comments Ray and yes I agree some of these areas will need further clarification, some more than others. As a snapshot device I think it is useful to quickly reveal problematic areas and possible weaknesses that may impact on the successful introduction of ICT. If I were to run this tool, for example at my HE institution, then I would break down each of the four areas: Institutional profile, Learner profile, Teacher profile and Teaching and learning profile into wheels in their own right and produce the spider graphs against agreed criteria.

Margarita Pérez-García

Ray, we conceived the grid as self-positioning and evaluation device for the introduction of ICT. It can be used when analysing a given context to judge about the pertinence of possible technological choice, but also for evaluation purposes during and after ICT introduction.

One extreme example: the appropriateness of the introduction of MUVEs in a context where institutional equipment ratio is 10:1, computers are accessible exclusively in the library, medium-low connectivity speed, scarce hardware provision at home for pupils, no flexibility of the teaching space: always same classroom with no computers available, and fixed schedule of 4 hours class per week! Is that project feasible?

The idea for us was to stress the diversity of factors that need to be taken into account for a successful introduction of ICT. In some cases, teachers and institutions are driven by their enthusiasm and willingness to innovate or to deploy a new technology, but struggle to apprehend the complexity of its deployment. This tool – a kind of quick reminder - is for them. We have analysed major reports on the introduction of ICT and classified the criteria having the most important influence in the 4 mentioned dimensions: all in one! But when operationalised, the wheel needs to be broken by dimension for usability concerns and also the criteria inside each dimension needs to match the research questions, issues or concerns related to the introduction of ICT. The criteria inside can vary from context to context. One good example is “availability of and distribution of equipment”: from one project to another what would be required can vary from 1:1 always-on in a pervasive environment to availability of laboratories with 30 computers allowing 1:1, 2 hours per week per student for given disciplines. In some countries, such France, ICT policy states a different availability ratio per educational level: lower in compulsory education, 1:1 in HE. Policy also varies from North to Southern to New EU Members countries. Variations are endless!

“Disciplinary requirements” related to the discipline taught also varies greatly: the ICT impact report stress that ICT impacts most in primary schools in native language (i.e. English in the studies) and science.

Therefore providing a definition alongside with a scale of each criteria would be meaningless. However providing a definition with example of scales and implementation alongside with study cases would be very useful.

There are still too many pending questions related to the impact of the introduction of ICT for teaching and learning. Some of the issues we are interested in are:

- Which factors, besides technological infrastructure changes and the deployment of equipment, play a major role in the effective integration of ICTs? Although recognising typologies of strategy development and implementation is a major focus here, several dimensions need to be addressed to identify what works and what is making the difference in the integration of ICT between levels and sectors. This includes not only the analysis of strategies at national, regional, local and even school level, but also the different types and uses of ICT and the teaching and learning modes. All these variables impact, to a lesser or greater degree, on learners and learning, teachers and teaching, school plans and strategies.
- Is the greatest impact of ICT in Primary school due to the introduction of new teaching and learning modes? More precisely, which types and uses of ICT, and which types of uses and learning modes have the greatest impact? Is it a combination of both and how are they interrelated? .
- Is there a subject or discipline bias in the successful integration and impact of ICT in education? Are there some subjects more orientated to the successful integration of ICT than others? Why have researchers observed a greater impact of ICT in mother tongue studies, science, design and technology rather than in mathematics? Are these differences a consequence of specific and discipline related teaching and learning modes?

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