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I am not quite sure what to make of this article. What it assumes, as a basis for its argument, is that teachers have lost control of ICT and how it can be used in the classroom. This in itself is problematic, as this is an argument that I have found unsubstantiated through any of my own time as a student or as a student-teacher. ICT has always been available as and when it was needed, but never when it wasn’t integral to learning. This is most likely due to the teacher’s discretion (as examined further below), in deciding what was integral (or not so much) in students learning the curricular necessities.

Towards the end of his article, Brown asks five questions that would be appropriate for teachers (phrased as ‘a culture’) to ask themselves, which essentially boils down to ‘is ICT necessary in my class, and how am I going to use it?’ This, I believe, would have been a more effective question to answer within the article, rather than the he said/she said journalism that Brown seems to be promoting.

In answer to the question posed above, this is a question that I will constantly be asking myself throughout my time teaching. But, as with everything, this is a question that can be altered to fit with any learning area or method: ‘Is [x] necessary in my class, and how am I going to use it?’ ICT has become a tool now like any other. In my teaching area of English, [x] can mean anything from [ICT] to [novel] to [film]. Each aims to help teach in its own way.

In the end it just means that we have to adapt to new and changing times. Some ICTs will be applicable to a learning area, some may not. It is to the teacher’s own discretion whether or not they can see it working.

Before and after: Classrooms with their new technologies.

Bate’s article discusses whether the shift in education towards a more ICT-friendly model has come very quickly – perhaps too much so for the teachers who are primarily affected by this shift. This article, from what I understand, says that teachers should adapt with changing times, but also says that schools should assist with that transition, rather than making it an onus on the teacher.

As has been the case for the past few articles, I agree with this message – that teachers and students should have the opportunity to learn with new and changing technologies. Theoretically, this article makes sense, and I have seen it being applied in the real world: my old school had four computer labs and computers in the library, as well as in specific classrooms where they were needed (ie the Media Labs). I graduated in 2008 and my brother has started there this year, where all students up to year 10 now have personal iPads for use with schoolwork (where applicable). In the five years since my graduation there has also been at least one complete overhaul of new computers in the labs and library, simply in order to stay on top of updated technologies.

In the five years since I left school, there have been four new iPhone models released, and the first ever iPad model. Windows released two new software updates in Windows 7 and 8. The rise in social media since 2008 can be followed here also.

The ways in which people of all ages connect are changing; this can be seen in the classroom too – a sort of petri dish of outside society. Therefore, to ignore this changing landscape is to be not only blind to reality, but to be actively giving students a disadvantage in later life.

Justine Isard’s article ‘Why mobile learning makes sense in the 21st century classroom’ argues very much for the use of mobile learning devices (iPads and to a lesser extent laptops) in education. This argument, she says, can be made because mobile learning promotes an individualised learning opportunity that suits the student’s learning style, on top of being more student-focused than teacher-led. The use of mobile technology, however, must be used to work with the educational topic, and not simply because the technology is there.

This is, I believe, a good and useful article. The importance of technology in the classroom (even in the pre-iPad age) has been highlighted as a necessity, recognising its importance. It shows that children should be educated not only in the standard English, Maths, textbook, whiteboard style, but also on what is happening around them in the wider world. Students should be able to use modern technology not only for fun but for education. Students should also be able to recognise its correct use, or at least the safer way to operate it. What needs to be drilled in to students is their visibility, especially online, where they haven’t thought of this before.

1. Bubbl.us

Simple brainstorming tool – using mindmaps. Advantages – Simple and easy to use. Disadvantages – Slow and sometimes difficult to find things (ie delete a mindmap section). Can be used for simple brainstorms – can be printed out and used for reference and/or study.

2. EduClipper

Content clipboards online (like Pinterest). Advantages – Easy to locate past or current posts. Looks similar to Pinterest, which some students will already have. Disadvantages – Takes ages to load; a whole class of students would not be able to be on at the same time. Probably wouldn’t use in class, as it changes every day and can get distracting. Although this is interesting (found on EduClipper):

3. Teach-Nology

Teacher forum and discussion board. Advantages – Lots of teachers willing to help each other out and give advice to others. Disadvantages – Sometimes (as with all forums) it goes off topic and can get distracted. Would not use in class but would get some ideas to use in class.

4. Word Mover

Free creative poetry app. Advantages – Good for English, Drama, people with learning difficulties. Disadvantages – Requires iPad. Would use for English or Drama or dyslexic students.

5. Survey Monkey

Survey Creator. Advantages – Easy summation of information from students. Easy to fill out and view information. Disadvantages – Students can give undesired/unrequested information. Would use in class at the end of a unit, perhaps at the beginning if you want to know what to teach, rather than a general overview.

6. Google News Archives/Trove

News Archiving made easy. Advantages – Simple research of historical eras/news. What was important back then? Disadvantages – Can get off topic easily by looking at the wrong thing. Would probably be used for History or English across all year levels.

7. Tagxedo

Online Clusterbomb compilation website. Looks at most frequent words used. Advantages – Compresses a lot of information to a smaller amount, where it highlights the most important “key” words. Can be used for Enlglish, when looking for key or important words (most likely lower-school).

8. Edmodo

Social networking for students. Advantages – Teaches them how to safely use Social Media. Disadvantages – Another social media website. Would not use in class but maybe as a connection tool for after school.

9. Lesson Bucket

Advice and information on what to teach Media students. Advantages – Gives advice to teachers on a newer subject area, in easy to understand language. Disadvantages – Can start to teach solely off the website. Would use in class when teaching a subject I haven’t before/using the images as examples.

Mishra and Koehler’s article ‘Too Cool For School? No Way!’ argues for the integration of technology in the classroom, but not simply for technology’s sake. The argument within the article is that as new technologies emerge, they should be considered by teachers to have an educational tilt; iPads, Podcasts, and even Nintendos should, as well as being means of excitement and/or relaxation, be means of education and learning. Mishra and Koehler phrase it “[t]echnologies including standard productive or office software, blogs, wikis, and GPS systems were not designed for teachers, and as such, teachers must repurpose them for use in educational contexts,” underpinning the need for teachers to be able to apply non-teaching technologies within the classroom environment.

The authors use three main online tools that would help students within their class – Twitter (and other microblogging sites); specialised search engines such as Viewzi and Cuil (both of which have since been shut down); and DJ software to teach mathematic concepts. Of course, as the article mentions, these tools must be used in such a way that would add to the students’ education, and not detract from it. Microblogging websites such as Twitter pose the biggest problem to this objective, where, as the article says, they do “not exist in a vacuum,” and “appropriate use has to be scaffolded by specific pedagogical instructions and guidelines.” This applies to all technologies as they arrive: not only should the technology be used, but its safe use should be continually promoted and reiterated within the classroom.

This is an article that I agree with, and cannot say much else that has not already been said by the authors. As new technologies emerge, it is of course necessary to find a use for them in the classroom. These technologies should of course keep their original purposes as places for fun and relaxation, but should also for learning. This is not to detract from their original purposes, but to add to it – to give iPads, Nintendos, GPSs, etc., an increased variety of uses. This in turn helps the students to understand that their games can be repurposed into something that can help them learn, and again in later life, as tools for the workplace.

Bennett and Maton begin their article by discussing the uses of different technology – and the different ways in which prep-school children will interact with it, as compared with university students. They say, for example, that university students will a) be able to complete the necessary tasks; and b) be inexpensive. (I would tend to add that uni students will look for technology that they are comfortable with, as well as something ‘cool’. Uni students will buy an iPhone over a Samsung because their friends have iPhones and they already have an Apple product – sometimes even if the Samsung is cheaper.) Prep-school students, meanwhile, will use the technology available to them, and model their technology use after their family and friends; if their family uses their computer for work, the child will use the computer for homework. (I disagree with this point, although in theory it should be correct. Parents will, now, encourage their child to go on the computer when they are complaining of boredom, replacing television, books or games. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just a fact of changing times. When I was 12 – in 2003 – I watched a lot of TV or read books; my brother is 12 now and he sits on the computer or his iPod.)

The following segment of the Bennett and Maton article goes on to discuss the ways in which students – of all ages – use technology. After quoting a lot of studies that show how young children use technology, and again with university students, the authors come across some none-too-amazing conclusions. One is that younger children at school are more varied – economically and socially – than university students. The other is that “there is significant variation in the ways in which young people use technology, suggesting that rather than being a homogenous generation, there is a diversity of interests, motivations and needs.”

Neither of the above two pieces of information were, I believe, necessary to mention in such detail in the article. The former, simply due to the fact that school education is compulsory for all children until the end of Year 10. When all children from the ages of four to 15 are made by law to go to school, of course there is going to be a large discrepancy between students’ socioeconomic backgrounds, just as there is between every family. University is an active choice, made to further education in a specific field. This decision process can include the question of available or future funds, and whether study can therefore be afforded or justified. Therefore, students will tend to be in a higher income bracket than those who do not go to university. (This, obviously, does not preclude all lower-income students from going to university, nor does it assume that all those of a higher income will go to tertiary education.) The latter point, regarding homogeneity (or its lack thereof) in students, is an obvious fact; the authors would likely not expect homogeneity between themselves and their next-door neighbours, or their colleagues. Why homogeneity could or would be expected between students is therefore perplexing.

The authors then use these two pieces of information to build the argument that since not all students use technology in the same ways, they may not be able to learn the same things simply by its use. I am not quite sure if what the authors are trying to say is that is it therefore unnecessary to teach students with new technology, or if it is a balancing act between the traditional and the new. I would hope that they mean for the latter, as technology is only ever on the increase, and ignoring it can only hinder the students’ education, especially when it comes to their departure from school into the outside world.

To conclude, the authors looked over all the studies that had been mentioned in their article, and called them part of “the growing body of evidence that simultaneously refutes the simple notion of

the ‘digital native’ and highlights the complexities of young people’s technology experiences.” As a conclusion, this highlights the major problem I had with the article: it argues nothing. They say that one study shows that university students are not homogenous, but another shows that they are more homogenous than younger school students and/or the outside world. They say that children use technology differently to each other, but that as a whole they use technology differently to adults. While these claims are not contradictory as such, they are not particularly useful to anyone who wishes to greater understand the topic. The article argues neither for nor against, but sums up seemingly disjointed pieces of information and expects the reader to take from that what they will. And in the end, the article says that more research should be undertaken to further understand the topic, with no suggestion or reiteration of, in the authors’ view, how technology should be integrated into the classroom.