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JEFF BROOMES: More technology frontiers to explore


JEFF BROOMES: More technology frontiers to explore

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SOMETIME DURING THE MID 1990s the Ministry of Education embarked on an initiative that was consistent with progressive educational thought.

The focus of this thrust was to bring our schools up to date with the use of technology as a teaching and learning tool. It was named EduTech.

The broad outlines of this positive journey were to affect much-needed school repairs, provide computers and accompanying accessories to each school, and provide individual teacher training for a select group from each of the pilot schools with the expectation of ongoing in-school training. 

These were supplemented by the creation of two new positions, information technology coordinator (ITC) and curriculum coordinator (CC) to be led by the principal as the head of the technology team.

These were masterful strokes. The selection of individuals with sound computer knowledge and skills to be the ITC was mandatory. It was also important to have someone with experience and leadership skill as CC to help infuse technology into the teaching and learning process.

The ministry had put a relatively sound foundation in place. The next step was for the bricks and mortar to be applied at the level of the school to erect the building of technological and educational success. Unfortunately, old habits die hard.

Some school practitioners held on to the mantra iIf it isn’t broke don’t fix it.”  That’s a clear enemy of innovation and exploration. Hence, teaching methods remained unchanged.

As the construction continued a significant mistake was made.

The curriculum coordinators who were to drive the integration process were dropped and the information technology coordinators kept. Most of these saw their roles as simply to ensure that the equipment was kept in good working order and some computers became simple dust collectors. 

The investment that was so sacrificially made initially has largely remained without the expected commensurate returns. It is with much disappointment that we have seen the process remain at a level where Power Point, word processing, Google and the use of email for passing homework have come to be the observable definition of technology use in education. 

As one of the leaders from the launch and who has used multiple opportunities to expose himself to best practices worldwide, I now offer a few simple suggestions that would not only  improve what is happening in schools but could also see a realisation of the vision that existed when EduTech was launched.

Four simple and easily implemented uses of the technology for learning purposes could involve subject specific worksheets to solidify student understanding of teaching that would have taken place during the day or week. 

Another use could include the utilisation of different search engines (and not simple the rote learning given by Google) as navigation tools to support research projects.

Additionally, virtual institutes and environments must be a definite. I know some education leaders have dismissed this notion, but I simply attribute it to their myopic ignorance. 

As a youngster, I developed a phobia against science because of some of the experiments (hated dissecting frogs). Doing such and others in a virtual environment on the computer could be so much more motivational and more cost effective.

Finally, WebQuests are excellent tools in addressing higher order thinking and should be mandatory in each of our schools.  These are just a look into what technology can offer; there is much more in the pool that could be used.

Jeff Broomes is an experienced educator, principal and community organiser who also served as a vice president of the BCA and director of the WICB. Email: [email protected]