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January 11, 2007

UK Schools Minister sets out his vision for educational ICT

Jim Knight, the UK Minister of State for Schools, spoke yesterday at BETT about the way that ICT is set to transform education.  A transcript of his speech is available from PublicTechnology.net Web site.

It's not a bad speech, in the sense that it is hard to find fault with much of what is said.  If I have one criticism it is that there is not enough focus on how schools are going to prepare themselves strategically for responding to changes in technology over the next 5 to 10 years.  In part that means thinking about the changing global context (not just James Bond!) and what kind of skills are going to be important for people (staff and pupils) over that kind of time frame.

I'd be interested to know how many schools have really sat down and thought strategically about how they will be supporting and delivering learning for children in 5 years time, what ICT will allow them to do that they don't do now, what kinds of things children will expect and demand in that time frame, what kinds of skills will be valuable, what kind of sustainable ICT infrastructure (not just hardware) they need to be moving towards, what staff skills will be needed and so on.  The talk touches a little bit on how collaboration and assessment are changing the way children are learning - but it seems to me to be more about highlighting individual, and probably somewhat isolated, flashes of excellence rather than a coherent vision of where all schools are going.

In my limited experience, this kind of thinking is very difficult for individual schools to undertake - not least because the teachers at the coalface need time and space to think about the issues and gain experience of what is being made possible by technology.  And time and space in schools are scarce resources.  Schools will need all the help they can get in preparing for these kinds of changes IMHO.


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