Monday, September 10, 2007

Posts from ict and computing blog

I decided today to reduce the number of blogs and concentrate on this one. As a result, I have re-posted here, some of the stuff that was originally on ict-and-computing.blogspot.com from 2006. Hopefully in the next few days, I will add this year's reflections on the ICT subject booster course run by the University of Cumbria (formerly St Martin's College). As well as the stuff we offered last year (see below) we added in a day's activity on creating a podcast. As well as the obvious enjoyment factor, it struck me that the additional knowledge acquired (those difficult to grasp technical aspects such as file compression and formats; video editing; sound editing and mixing; using mixed platforms); as well as the skills of presenting and working with others went way beyond our statutory requirement of teaching a few skills.

from ict-and-computing blog Monday, November 06, 2006

Some cool stuff.
It's very hard to keep up with all this information and new cool stuff which I'd love to have time to explore. Roll on retirement! On my recent searches I came across another two new graphic search engines at www.quintura.com and also www.mooter.com
Added to www. webbrain.com and www.kartoo.com I now have a nice range of graphical search tools to utilise when searching for dull things like OSI networking model. I was quite impressed by the video at
http://labs.live.com/photosynth/video.html and finally, the video demonstrating the powers of Ask.com is worth a look. http://searchtools.ask.com

posted by H M Smith @ 11:57 PM 0 comments

from ict-and-computing blog Friday, September 01, 2006

Subject Booster Course

St Martin's College (ICT Education Division) won a contract from the TDA (Teacher Development Agency) to run a Subject Booster Course for students about to embark on a one year PGCE course. Prospective teachers of ICT Education were given the opportunity to attend St Martin's for 2 weeks to brush up on their I.T. subject knowledge in areas of spreadsheet, database, web design, programming, and control technology. I have to say, that I found the whole experience very enjoyable. I was responsible for the spreadsheet input. It was lovely to have this opportunity to have the time to explore many facets of the application such as macros, VBA (Visual Basic for Applications), user forms, combo boxes, spinners, option buttons, advanced graphing techniques etc. It was very rewarding to observe the pleasure that the students displayed when they succeeded in tackling some very difficult tasks. They created very colourful front end forms, attached buttons to macros and were motivated to undertake some further study. Most importantly, through all their activities across web design, databases, control technology, they realised the potential of users (their future pupils?) developing ICT capability. In the show and tell session, the students shared demonstrated some of the projects that they had completed or were works in progress. Any technical issues that arose were also developed into a further teaching point; for example - graphics taking a long time to download on their web sites instigated discussion about the need for file compression; and the differences between bit map and vector graphics. All in all, the students and tutors gained a lot from the experience and by sharing and discussing, we all learned something new from the experience. Looking forward to next year when we can develop some ideas further.

posted by H M Smith @ 11:14 PM 0 comments

from ict-and-computing blog Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Bigger Picture! – Reflection on ICT Course Design in general (February 2006)

School ICT is boring (Freedman 2006). I have just finished reading a whole selection of articles on ‘Boring ICT Lessons’ and I have to agree with the author. By concentrating on some low level skill, pupils in schools are being stultified by learning tedious tasks on how to add a page break or how to insert a graphic into a leaflet. Unfortunately, as higher education tutors on secondary teacher training courses, we have to take some of the responsibility for the product that we are sending out into schools.

Having previously taught in Scotland, I have to say that the Scottish system of acknowledging both computing and ICT concepts seems some way ahead of England. English schools have ICT, which often consists of low level publishing tasks.
I have grave concerns about the kind of teachers that are being trained for the future. Our students are familiar with the Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 curriculum and unfortunately, many of them think that all they need to do is gain the level of knowledge required to continue teaching in the same way as they had once been taught. My own personal agenda therefore, is to tackle some of this misconception and hopefully drive students to ‘think outside the box’. In today’s session, we had a lively debate about Skills versus Capability. This discussion never ceases to amaze me as someone always manages to come up with a unique viewpoint. I have even changed my own mind to a certain extent, on the role of skills based training with students. In an ideal world, all students would come into Higher education, being able to read and write succinctly; and also be able to navigate their way around an online ‘Help’ screen. Unfortunately, too often, they are unable to think for themselves and often resort to asking the tutor or another student “How do you insert a header and footer..?” or similar task
Most “web authoring” packages contain bloated tools that once created, can only be viewed with an equally bloated application to view them (Front Page and Internet Explorer spring to mind). Whilst the use of such “packages” (I won’t use the term “application”) allows students to create all singing all dancing effects on screen at little educational cost, where are the long term benefits of such an approach? Where are our designers of the future coming from? If we are perpetuating the cycle of training ‘users’ rather than ‘thinkers’ then we are doing a great disservice to our learners.
More of this rant later.

posted by H M Smith @ 10:48 AM 0 comments

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