Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Consuming ICT

Learning via ICT is an odd fish in education.  Often seen as a panacea and the enabler for a transformation in education, it has consistently failed to live up to expectations.  Blogs, LMS, tablets, interactive boards, apps, graphics calculators, CAS calculators, Connect, Teams, youtube, screencasts, Wiki's and the list goes on!

I've had the pleasure of working with a wide range of students and tailoring ICT to the needs of students over the years.

My latest epiphany is that students do not learn from ICT when directed to it.  They are consumers of ICT, they use it when they need it - they seek information and use it on demand.  This is how they see ICT in the same way they use social media.

This is very different to what we do as teachers, as our jobs are so often as motivators and as "teachers of information in a sequence" that has no connection to immediate student perceived needs (we create the demand for the consumption through delivery of the syllabus!).

Sitting in front of a screen in of itself is typically not motivating and students resist doing it.

Getting information that you require is to satisfy a demand and is easier to negotiate with students (eg. the need is being better able to pass a test they would fail otherwise).  

If we can make information available that they need, when they need it (and acknowledge it is not at  the start of a topic before a need is generated - eg an extension of Voygotski's zone of proximal development and the idea behind "just in time intervention"), then they will consume it.  They may not learn the main idea well using ICT but it may fill gaps in their learning with ICT.

My most recent iteration experimenting with this was with a low ability class doing Trigonometry.  Rather than working through the process online (and generating resources and a sequence to do this which takes some time to do properly), I did the revision exercise online which quickly went through each step and then indicated to students to ask me about the bit they did not understand.

We then did the process again in class (after they had an opportunity to watch the screencast).  Low an behold they then asked questions about specific elements of the process.  The demand was generated and the reason for consumption was clear to students. It was also sent to parents such that they could be involved in learning (at a point where the majority of teaching was done and they could act on the individual problems of their child - another distinct benefit).

Voila - consumed ICT!