Schools urged to exploit ICT freedom
Teachers have been urged to use ICT more creatively in their schools, now that the shackles of Becta and Government intervention have been removed.
Speaking at the annual BETT show in London, a panel of education experts urged teachers to consider the full spectrum of IT equipment – from games consoles to Braille printers – in the classroom.
The coalition Government’s decision to scrap school IT advisory board Becta and give schools autonomy over their budgets presents an unprecedented opportunity for schools, claimed IT education journalist Merlin John, who was chairing the panel.
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“There’s very little information coming out of Government,” John stated, before reading out correspondence with education minister Nicholas Gibb, which confirmed the Government’s hands-off approach to ICT in schools.
“We want schools to take decisions and make the choices… they are best placed to decide what works for them,” Gibb was quoted as saying. “We want more choices and decision making at the frontline, wherever possible.”
Teacher Dawn Hallybone – a winner of the handheld learning special award in 2009 – encouraged teachers to make greater use of technology found in the home, such as games consoles.
She revealed how she used a safari adventure game on the Nintendo Wii, which is connected to her classroom’s interactive whiteboard, to encourage children to learn about science and the natural world.
Meanwhile, Carol Allen, a consultant for the North Tyneside local authority, said there was no excuse for schools not to assist handicapped or special needs students with new technology. “If you go out in these lovely halls [at BETT] you’ll see technology that allows you to convert Word or PDF files into Braille, large print or MP3,” she claimed.
Ray Barker, the director of the British Education Suppliers Association (BESA), said schools will relish the new freedom they’ve been afforded. “They make their own choices now and those choices will be the most interesting thing [to watch at the show],” he said during his opening speech.