Get with the program

from BBC News – Education & Family

This is yet further confirmation in my mind that ICT is not a subject but a set of very important skills with IT Programming, IT Hardware and Network Management the real subjects. Like Technology fractured into Textiles, Product Design, Food Technology and so on.

Following a tweet from a respected colleague, it is important to not that many ICT educators have been promoting coding for quite some time.

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Teaching, the Design of the Building and ICT

How you do see teaching, the design of the building and ICT combining to create a thriving learning environment that enhances achievement. (Without Visual Aids)

Which came first, the teacher or the teaching space? After all, we all know that technology followed….

I have been debating and preparing the title (he says, glancing up) in preparation for ‘day 2’ of interview at a newly built, state of the art Academy (for the record, no, I didn’t get the post) however I did take the opportunity to broaden my thinking. At every opportunity I discussed the impact of their teaching space with colleagues, from across the breath of curriculum, online, over the phone and via email. I have spoken with Principals, Headteachers, Curriculum Leaders, teachers and learning assistants, consultants, students, Network Managers, architects, anyone that would listen and engage in dialogue really. Nearly every discussion contributed to the debate and almost without exception, every discussion emphasised, somewhere, the importance of ‘good’ teachers, educators or facilitators (TEFs). I was reassured although I doubt you are surprised? Therefore, if you were looking for a definite conclusion or composite answer, I hope you won’t be left dissatisfied with what can only be described, at best, as a summation of this investigation. This however, may be considered a success in its own right, considering simply trying to rank teaching, the design of the building and ICT in order of importance, left my audience often undecided or procrastinating when pushed for an answer. Even my first Twitpoll (n=52) demonstrated the complexity of the question.

  1. Teaching – 1.25
  2. Building Design – 2.23
  3. ICT – 2.44

How do I see teaching, the design of the building and ICT combining to create a thriving learning environment that enhances achievement? My approach towards an answer first encouraged me to assess the individual impact of these components before their collective alchemy. There is a presumption here of course, a presumption that the big questions had already been answered and decisions made. For example, what sort of education do we want to see in future? What sorts of learning relationships do we want to foster? What competencies do we want learners to develop?


Back to teaching, building design and ICT. Teacher learning and teaching has to been presented as the crank shaft, the driving factor for attainment. Whilst I would agree in this statement wholeheartedly, it is important that we also accept that the TEFs roles is evolving and currently at a faster rate than our profession is currently adapting. A role that may develop beyond that of a teacher and close to that of a facilitator, to perhaps collaborator or co-learner. I am uncertain as to whether or not a teacher is inter-changeable with a computer, but teacher enthusiasm is certainly not. I will let you debate the Sugata Mitra quote ‘a teacher than can be replaced by a machine should be,’vs the now infamous Sanders and Rivers (1996) article that argues ‘the single most important factor affecting student achievement is the quality of the teacher.’ Not their access to ICT.

The Personalised Learning agenda has a firm hold. Learning, teaching and ICT affords greater freedoms in which the students becomes the ringmaster selecting his own tools, managing his own performance, shared (if at all) with a select audience, who may or may not provide feedback (likes, stars or comments). This may be a possibility but our students definitely require guidance on how to access, aggregate, filter, configure and manipulate digital artefacts, resources and content.


Instead of a presumption this time, a statement. The school ‘the institution’ and the school ‘the building’ are not the same. The schools vision and culture should definitely be shared and celebrated through the building design, within the community and online, however a school is always more than the sum of its buildings. Point in reference Campsmount Technology College.

What constitutes the ‘design of the building?’ It is the environmental setting, the architecture, the combination of spatial and sensory qualities, the furnishings as well as the non-material qualities, the acoustics, colour, light. It is form, function and furniture as teacher tools. It is independent, peer-to-peer, de-privatised clusters, groups, cohorts and performance spaces. It is also prudent to acknowledge that designing a learning space is an organic and cyclical process, one that continues long after the building has been completed. It maximising the impact of the building to the maximum number of people in the community, Perhaps most recently, new designs are moving us from an ‘instruction paradigm’ to a ‘learning paradigm’ and technology can be an accelerant (it can also be an inhibitor).


The application of technology to building design can only be fairly assessed with reference to the learning space. In some cases, these opportunities have a direct relationship to building design. For example, wireless access promotes mobility whereas networked computing promotes assurance and processing power. In other examples, it is indeed the building itself we are trying to escape, here technology can offer exits to simulated worlds, immersive learning or augmented realities. It is not only what technology can offer now and tomorrow, but what is possible in the future. Using technology is not a pre-requisite for outstanding teaching, (nor an inspiring building) however accepting young people’s affinity and thirst for technology, it is knowing what technology, why, how and with how it can be most effectively used to raise attainment. Learning online (e-learning), mobile learning (m-learning), blended learning is carelessly defined. Removing the definition or prefix, demystifies it somewhat and makes it more readily available. Simply, it is learning. It is learning led technology and not technology for teaching and learning.

ICT for attainment is about empowering learner but also empowering teachers. Ultimately it is using data and feedback to transform learning and improve learning outcomes. It is using your E-resources to engage and information parents and community stakeholders. On or under budget of course.

In an effort to measure the importance of ICT, I stopped and asked myself ‘what the top ten trends in learning and teaching for the next three years?’ Consider it yourself for a moment…. How many of these trends do not rely on technology? None, one or two at best? How will the classroom learning be innovated?

  • Ebooks, open textbooks, open information.
  • Cloud Storage and Software as a Service
  • 1-2-1 computing
  • Mobiles learning (laptop, handheld or smart phone, personal response systems (PRS), real-time streaming, voting, AR)
  • RFIDs
  • Portfolios
  • Simulated environments
  • Accessibility assisted learning
  • Augmented reality
  • Games based learning (single player, multi-player, MMORP
  • Near field communication
  • Gesture based learning / immersive learning
  • Learning analytics

How do I see teaching, the design of the building and ICT combining?

Through aspirational teaching standards, and expert mentoring and coaching, creative timetabling, group management and excellent estate management. Through sustained professional development in collaborative professional communities with opportunities to experiment, develop and spread expertise within and beyond the school. I envisage a learning opportunity to exploit digital literacies with students supported as they adapt their learning capacities, their ability to work in and with innovative learning spaces, with one another, whoever, wherever they may be. Most importantly, I see the process of embedding technology into learning and teaching, within learning spaces and professional practice as an evolutionary process rather than a revolutionary one.

Which component has the greatest impact on teaching and learning

  • Quality of teaching (94%, 16 Votes)
  • Access to, and use of ICT (6%, 1 Votes)
  • School building design (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 17

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