Here’s the thing about teachers. I think we all secretly want to be Michelle Pfeiffer in the movie Dangerous Minds (or maybe not even in the movie!). Our job is the hardest, most grueling job out there. And yes, it is rewarding – but often our influence is noted, absorbed and internalized within a student but we don’t ever get the satisfaction of being told by a student what actually made a difference (although I’m pretty sure my jokes have).
Increasingly, we are seeing schools turn to technological methods of teaching, communicating, reporting, monitoring students’ progress and behaviour and, well, pretty much every other aspect of school life too. With students being permitted to use personal devices for educational purposes in many schools, and homework and lesson tasks being set online, technology has become an integral part of the way teachers teach and students learn. Ask a 21st Century student to conduct their homework using only an encyclopaedia, no doubt they’ll look at you confused and aghast.
On Wednesday last week I sat in an innovation symposium with a Virtual Reality headset on. I was then strapped into a sports seat mirroring one that one would find in a modern racing car. The helpful assistant informed me that when the program begins I might find the 360°, fully immersive experience slightly disorientating. Being a son of a digital revolution that for me began with the Amstrad CPC 464, I dismissed his comment with an arrogance that these days is usually demonstrated by someone located in an office that is oval shaped. How dare he think that I would find the experience disorientating? He has clearly never played Manic Miner!
As teachers, we spend our careers refining and honing our teaching skills. It makes sense, therefore, that any technology we use in school should enhance these skills or free us to use these skills better. As a teacher, I saw how this could happen, but also how commonplace badly designed software that didn’t have a positive impact was, as well as how many teachers struggled to plan and apply any technology well.
Reading gurus Giglets Education has released an advanced version of its online literacy resource, the Learning Cloud, for use by teachers and pupils in Primary and early Secondary education.