Sunday, August 09, 2009

Mr Barrett on Educatioanl Multitouch Desks

The excellent Mr Tom Barrett Assitant Head of Priestic Primary, Nottingham has for some time now been involved with the Tech Enhanced Learning Team at Durham University who have been working on the educational use of multitouch computer screens. In his most recent post on 8th August Tom updates us on the progress that has been made with these devices.

The idea of a multitouch screen - or rather as Tom has found from the Durham team, the use of linked multitouch screens where pupils can share their work across screens certainly looks impressive and will certainly take computing/ICT in UK primary schools away from purely practice of keyboard skills. The chance to use this technology to push the boundaries of what is possible is certainly exciting for the techie amongst us ( count me in this group!) .... however I can see as Tom no doubt does the problems with going down the route of increasing the tech in the classroom with more and more expensive stuff. Schools in the straightened financial times we are in will find these devices increasingly difficult to budget for.
My other major worry is that of the 'interactive whiteboard experience' where many schools and local authorities in the UK adopted a policy of purchasing these in large numbers and placing them in classrooms with in the early stages little thought of how to train teachers on their effective use..... in fact in these early days I doubt if many had even thought about this issue, and just saw the shiny tech at shows like BETT and went with the hype.

In my time in the classroom I have seen them in rooms where they were unused ( and with one of the IWB's in my previous school I had to fight hard to even get into the room ( turned into a music room ) and actually turn it on, when I did after it being in place for 3 years of course it didn't work properly, or those placed in rooms which were classrooms and then had a change of use to in our case a Library, which had to be timetabled for use..... result oddly enough I believe it was only me and my class that ever turned it on in my final 2 years in the school ( I had to walk my 27 Y3's down a long school corridor past 7 classrooms to become interactive!. Where they were in classrooms many staff had not wanted them and simply used the board as they would an ordinary whiteboard, I believe that the term 'interactive' was only used in the UK where many were anything but interactive...... used for teacher instruction the 21st Century equivalent of 'chalk and talk'. I hope that much more thought will be given to how these new 'tables' will actually be used in the classroom, and to that end I look forward to the result of the research work that Tom has been asked to undertake, I also hope that this reaches the wide audience it needs to, as Tom is a much respected teacher practitioner and thinker about the use of technology in the classroom - look out for more on Tom's blog ICT in my Classroom.

I still believe in making the technology 'invisible' in everyday classroom use and believe that IWB's and the next generation will if we are not very careful put the emphasis back on the visible technology

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