Monday, 12 May 2008

The purpose of ICT / ILT

I see ICT/ILT (depending on whether you are a school or FE/HE teacher) as an addition to the teaching and learning "toolbox" to be used only when appropriate. I suggest that there is a sense within teaching that unless ICT/ILT is part of every single lesson and that the latest technology is being used, the teacher and by implication the school/college is seen as "being behind.



The image of gadgets and gizmo's within teaching is to be welcomed as "variety is the spice of life" (see 40 gadgets in 40 minutes by Andy Black http://flux.futurelab.org.uk/about/panel/ ); however do not mistake the use of these as providing a variety of teaching methods . It is not the gadgets and gizmo's that provide the variety of teaching methods, it is the way you use them and for what purpose that will support your lesson and the students' learning.



This sense of need to be "seen" to be using the latest and greatest has led to a proliferation of IT and ICT/ILT over the last 10 years; which has been fueled in part by government initiatives and marketing by hardware and software companies. Although I truly believe ICT/ILT must be an integral part of education, I am concerned by how much money is invested and whether some of this money would be better used in other areas of teaching, e.g. smaller class numbers and tutorial support.



Over the last five years I have become interested in FOSS (free and open source software). This software is built by a community of developers for free and in many cases match the current paid for offerings from the commercial environment.



"[FOSS] approaches are only beginning to be explored in education and at the present time the research literature is partial and fragmented"(Futurelab, 2006) . I therefore hope that this blog will be a suitable vehicle to report on my own experiences of attempting to immerse myself (leisure and professional life) in FOSS and to see if I can actually divorce myself from commercial software solutions to FOSS solutions.



Reference

Dillon, T, Bacon, S (2006) The potential of open source approaches for education, Futurelab, Bristol, pp 10