Here is a transcript of a recent argument with my lovely wife. It’s not verbatim but pretty close:
M: ‘Computers are such time wasters!’
T: ‘Don’t say that, it’s a silly thing to say’
M: ‘BUT THEY ARE! Look, this thing froze up just trying to upload a photo so instead of spending half an hour walking in the sun I spent it in front of the stupid computer screen. It robbed me of my precious half an hour.’
T: ‘But you can’t just bag computers, they have their uses too – I for one enjoy them a lot and have learnt enormously from them over the last few years – you don’t seem to? You see them as stupid, useless and time wasting but there are so many things they can do’
M: ‘All I am saying is that you can so easily waste time with computers. You know, a screen freeze here, a link there and on it goes so before you know it you spend hours in front of the screen.’
T: ‘Well, growing and mowing grass is a waste of time too, TV is a waste of time…everything can be waste of time if you think about it. Computers are no different – you can waste time with them.’
Ever since I stumbled upon the 11 Things that make a difference by Bryn Jones and Chris Betcher a few months ago, I have often marveled at their uncanny assessment of critical criteria needed for successful ‘meshing’ of teaching with ICT. Within our ICT working group we often talk about and check our school’s progress against these 11 criteria. Yet we can’t help the feeling we need to add another one.
The staff at our school are currently completing (what looks like) a survey on the current level of their ICT skills, obstacles and aspirations. The ‘survey’ is in fact a fairly simple database activity in Moodle, designed to kill several birds with one stone – we get more than just a snapshot of where we are at and what we need. Through this simple, easily searchable database, people can quickly see who in the school has the skill(s and attitude) they (may) need, sometimes literally on the spot, just-in-time, where there is neither chance or time to attend some PD but simply problem-solve and learn from it. Staff can update their entries, comment, thank each other, inquire and so on in a way true to the 70:20:10 principle underpinning our ICT-related PD efforts this year. It is working really well but I might describe it in more detail in another post – back to the ‘12th thing’.
Even after a cursory analysis, something clearly stands out from the data from approximately 75% of staff so far – lack of time they have to ‘play with’ ICT, improve their skills and consider the improvements to their practice ICT can/could have. In the data, I can see (in)direct references to the other 11 Things but “(lack of) time to learn and work on/with ICT” comes through really strongly and makes a strong case to be the 12th Thing. Surprised? Not me.