March 2008; Page 8
There is currently a shift in educational thinking with regard to ICT. The focus on mastery of specific technologies is giving way to calls for the infusion of ICT into pedagogy. The author draws lessons about the nature of high-quality ICT professional development based on her work for the Suncoast Cyberschools, a group of schools in Queensland. Professional development should start with teachers who are interested and willing to undertake it. The leader of ICT professional development ‘does not have to be an ICT guru’ as their key role is that of a critical friend who can guide teachers in the examination of their skills and needs. Both leaders and teachers would also benefit from the availability of an ‘external critical friend’ to provide policy direction and support. Principals can play a crucial role in the professional development process. Timetabling should provide professional development opportunities during the working day. The time teachers spend outside school hours should be recognised and compensated. Learning ICT requires experimentation and can cause stress, so principals should offer participants practical and moral support. Teachers will need opportunities to investigate how ICT can apply within classroom-based inquiry exercises. Training in actual technology should focus on only the applications used in these classroom inquiries, so as to keep the focus on pedagogy rather than technology, and so as not to overwhelm the teacher. Reflection and constructive dialogue between participants should take place over an extended period of time, in regular meetings and through personal journals. As well as meetings with immediate participants the teachers should discuss issues with other teachers in the school and beyond it, for example through online communities.
Subject HeadingsProfessional development
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Teaching and learning
Mistakes boards make and what to do about them
Volume 3 Number 1, March 2008
The boards of Independent schools should take care to avoid four negative models of school governance. The first is the factional/relational board. Factions arise when board members with common interests or views begin to organise, even informally, together, and begin to define themselves in terms of common attitudes to issues, policies or figures in the school. If such groups then mobilise support among staff or parents the whole school community can become badly divided. The danger of factions can be minimised by suitable professional development and also by limiting boards to six to eight people, so that groupings are quickly revealed. In ‘relational’ boards, dominating individuals, usually the chair and the principal, distort decision making through their antagonistic or unduly close relationships to each other. These individuals are likely to block useful input from other members or the appointment of potential critics. Personal domination can be addressed by establishing and adhering to clear processes for decision making and planning. Micromanaging boards interfere in operational issues facing the school, frustrating the principal and staff, and neglecting the strategic issues for which the board is responsible. Boards should review their practices to remove activities that duplicate or ‘rubber stamp’ staff decisions, or do not offer guidance to the school. The effects of neglecting core responsibilities should be pointed out to boards. A board’s anxiety about accountabilities must be addressed if it is causing micromanagement. Trust must be built between principal and board so that the principal feels able to deliver bad news without undue criticism, and the board is confident of having the information they need. The vested interest board is dominated by the narrow interests of members’ own families, or by their own professional experience. These members are often unfamiliar with the traditions and culture of independent schools, and need thorough induction and professional development. The reactive board fails to plan for future contingencies and cannot resolve problems in a crisis. Strong boards have sound policies and procedures, including processes for managing risks and incidents. Overall, strong boards have put in place regular procedures for internal review, training and selection of future members.
Subject HeadingsPrivate schools
The inclusive classroom: students with disabilities in the mainstream
Volume 12 Number 2, March 2008; Pages 1–4
A 2007 report by the Department of Education, Science & Training (now DEEWR) investigates ways that teachers can most effectively include students with disabilities in mainstream classrooms. The report focuses on how successful teachers adapt the curriculum and learning environment for the needs of their students. Most areas in
Subject HeadingsInclusive education
Boredom and schooling: a cross-disciplinary exploration
Volume 37 Number 4, December 2007; Pages 579–595
A cross-disciplinary reading of research on boredom suggests that it is ‘an entirely constructed notion’. The concept appeared around 1750 and rose in popularity as society became increasingly structured around ‘work’ and ‘leisure’. It has been defined as a subjective feeling of repetitiveness, an absence of momentum or lack of involvement in the task at hand. Causes relate to under-stimulation or the lack of a meaningful challenge, and can be seen at both the societal and individual level. Boredom in schooling is usually seen as negative, a symptom of the failure of an adult to engage the child. However, most researchers agree that an element of boredom is integral to the creative process. It provides time for daydreaming, reflection and consideration of alternatives and allows for an energised return to the task. Excessive propensity to boredom, however, tends to be associated with hostility, aggression, impulsivity and destructive behaviours. A pedagogy that incorporates the positive effects of boredom while minimising the negative will give students more autonomy, a personal quality that acts as a kind of ‘immunity’ against excessive boredom. Providing choice without coercion, respecting children’s own agendas, and making learning relevant to students’ personal goals are all ways of building autonomy. Education will also benefit from including ideas from the psychology of flow, particularly the work of Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. Flow occurs when an individual’s skills match, or can rise to meet, the challenges of the task. When a person perceives that their capacity exceeds the task’s demands, boredom occurs; when the task is seen as too difficult, anxiety occurs. Education that maximises opportunities for flow will try to concentrate on deep enjoyment, rather than simply ‘fun’ or ‘pleasure’. To accomplish this, activities should be done playfully, inquiringly and in a spirit of adventure. Children should also be encouraged to persist with a task they initially find boring, as their interest often becomes engaged over time. A pedagogy that recognises and legitimises the place of boredom in learning would involve considerable overhaul of established educational practice, but would empower students to be active in their own learning.
Children of the e-volution
Volume 17 Number 3, April 2008; Pages 1–5
The article reviews a range of ICT educational innovations that have been introduced in
The professional development, resource and support needs of rural and urban ICT teachers
Volume 22 Number 22-31, December 2007
The results of the 2006 national survey by the National Centre of Science, ICT and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia (SiMERR
Key Learning AreasTechnology
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
The use of the Internet in science teaching: a longitudinal study of developments in use by student-teachers in England
Volume 29 Number 13, 17 October 2007; Pages 1605–1627
A four-year longitudinal study has examined the ways in which science student teachers in England use the Internet. The study was spurred by research early in the early years of this decade, which found that many teachers lacked confidence to apply ICT, and that its use was ‘moulded to current practice’. Several authors have also expressed concern that the introduction of ICT has emphasised technology without it being integrated sufficiently with teaching learning and assessment, leading commonly to the practice of 'doing an Internet lesson' in which science objectives are lost. The four-year study involved almost 600 student teachers at five universities. The research involved focus groups, questionnaires and case studies of practice. The study found that students’ attitudes towards use of the Internet and confidence to use it rose over the four years. The number of science-related websites that participants were able to mention rose substantially, and most students see themselves as competent to use the Internet. However, participants described obstacles to the application of ICT in the science classroom. Approximately half related to resourcing issues such as availability, reliability and speed of hardware. The quality and quantity of ICT provision rose significantly over the study period, but may not have matched rising expectations and teachers’ increasing demands for access to computers. There are also concerns about the limited pedagogical guidance and shortage of good role models available to student teachers in science. Case studies within the research did not find many examples of in-depth discussion between student teachers and their school-based mentors regarding the application of the Internet to science teaching. Plans for further professional development of science teachers should allow for the fact that there is still no agreed theoretical model for good practice in using the Internet in science; that there are few strong role models available within schools, and that much more work is needed to build professional communities, if they are to provide good learning environments for teachers and student teachers.
Key Learning AreasScience
Subject HeadingsEducational evaluation
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Learning in the visual arts and world views of young children
Volume 37 Number 4, December 2007; Pages 543–560
In the USA a study has examined the educational impact of high-quality teaching of the visual arts on disadvantaged children. The study covered 103 inner city 9-year-olds in two public primary schools, both in ‘war zone’ areas with high rates of poverty and crime. In Los Angeles the children, almost all from Latino backgrounds, were taught visual arts by skilled artists at Inner City Arts (ICA). The ICA aims to develop children’s self-expression, observation and focus through the visual arts, in the process developing English language skills in terms of vocabulary and oral expression. The participating children had 90-minute sessions twice a week for 20 weeks. Classroom teachers took part, modelling the creative process. Children were encouraged to critique each other’s work. The artists also raised higher-order issues including symbolism, form and aesthetics. Children at the other school, all African-American, had an in-school residency program in ceramics, also involving stories and poetry, run by the Center of Contemporary Arts (COCA) in St Louis. Researchers observed classes at both centres. The researchers also conducted surveys of participating students and control groups at both schools prior to the program and just prior to its completion. Results indicated that both groups of participants made significant comparative gains in their belief in their personal agency or ability to determine their own future. They did not make significant comparative gains on other measures of self-concept, such as general self-belief. A second test item measured students’ beliefs about their creativity. They made a significant comparative gain in their beliefs about the originality of their work, but again this was not repeated for other measures of creativity, covering the ability to produce many ideas or many types of ideas or to elaborate on ideas. The study follows a recent report that has found that high- quality visual arts education develops children’s disposition to engage and persist with their work, to envision, to imbue creations with feeling and personal meaning and to reflect on one’s work, and to ‘stretch themselves, explore possibilities and take risks’. A brief version of the article is available in two different documents at http://www.kpeppler.com/Papers.html.
Key Learning AreasThe Arts
Subject HeadingsArts in education
United States of America (USA)
Affordances of online technologies: more than the properties of the technology
Volume 22 Number 2, December 2007; Pages 17–22
For technologies such as wikis, blogs, podcasts and folksonomies to succeed as learning tools in the classroom, they must be considered in relation to the characteristics of the students and their learning environment. The concept of ‘affordances’ is useful in understanding this interaction. An affordance refers not to generic properties of a technology but to what it offers a learner in a particular situation. This means teachers need to consider the interaction between properties of the technology, the learning needs of their students and the learning environment. Two contrasting scenarios illustrate this. In the first, a hypothetical classroom teacher asks students to create a class wiki on a particular famous scientist. Students sit one to a computer and are discouraged from talking or making notes on paper. Some of the students are engaged, but many waste time on other things and those also taking Advanced Computer Studies complain of being bored. In the second scenario, a similar task is set. In this case students choose from a number of famous scientists and each group clusters around one computer. The teacher shows some example wikis at the start of the class and demonstrates the software they are to use. The Advanced Computer Studies students are designated ‘help desk personnel’ and given a more difficult task to complete when they are not helping other students. The difference between the two scenarios is not a general property of wikis as a learning technology; rather it is a careful consideration of how to use the affordances of this technology so as to best meet the learning needs of these students. In ICT professional development programs, teachers need to be taught about how web-based technologies might relate to their own lessons and students, rather than simply being given generalised information on these tools. A balance between structure and flexibility is needed so as to maximise the value of Internet technologies in the classroom.
Learning with missteps: Japanese student web search processes
Volume 5 Number 2; Pages 32–37
Research with Japanese high school students has illuminated potential difficulties that novice web searchers may encounter. The research, conducted at Tamagawa K–12 school in
Key Learning AreasTechnology
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