Imagine walking into a brand new ICT suite to teach. The PC’s are brand new and loaded with the latest software and the layout of the room makes teaching an absolute dream – not forgetting the amazing new interactive whiteboard in the room. This is something that teachers dream of, and sadly in many cases is something that many will never experience. This is the dream!
But, as time moves on the things that we once found to be the most beneficial are now the new limitations. You may have already read that las sentence a few times, and are now asking yourself “What is he talking about?”. As I have taught over the last term, and chatted with colleagues what started as ponderings have now
become strong opinions. It wasn’t that long ago that many teachers would complain that their pupils were suffering because they didn’t have the access to the IT rooms in the school that they needed. But as an IT teachers, who spends all day in an IT classroom I have come to believe that this once extremely sought after room, which staff would ‘fight’ for access to is now limiting the development of pupils in aspects that I am assessing them in. When I am assessing pupils on their planning and evaluation, their designing and creativity, I find that when they are in this room full of desk top PCs they will never be able to reach their full potential in these areas.
So how am I able to come to this opinion? Whilst I desire to see my pupils thrive within the subject areas I also want to see the creative flare and their 21st century skills develop. These pupils need the right tools for the job. And from seeing the pupil use the Surface it’s become evidently clear that using this device they have shown improvements in the areas I wanted to see. Through using this device pupils have opted to ink over type, and in doing so they have showing they have showed a deeper level of planning and self-evaluation of their work because inking removes the limitations of how and where you are able to write.
When planning, the Surface provides a platform to do what come naturally – sketch. And when combined with the amazing and powerful, education redefining OneNote, the pupils still work they same was as they would if they were using a regular text book and exercise book. It’s been thrilling to see pupils in a geography lesson take a photo of a landscape and then ink over it and label it. When pupils in Business Studies have a past exam paper they can write their answers as if the paper was in front of them on paper. Pupils also have the ability to record themselves or others and include it in their work. As a pupil device, the Surface has ticked all the boxes, including the huge tick box of collaborative learning.
When pupils use these devices, they are no longer restricted to a small physical space. Where they would normally only interact with those sat near they now feel freer to move and work, discuss……collaborate with a larger group. This impacts the dynamics of the classroom and to a degree brings them closer together. The freedom the teacher has to change pupils groups mid lesson has been a huge benefit too. When a group of 9/10 year old pupils where working collaboratively using Surfaces, one pupil was heard commented “I haven’t got a photo!” To hear another pupil say with confidence, without a second though “Don’t worry, I’ll email it to you” and within seconds it was there shows that their levels of digital competency are being promoted through the use of the devices and the applications installed on it.
As a teacher the need for an interactive whiteboard has been removed. Using a Microsoft Wireless adapter connected to the projector I can ink with confidence and ease. Gone are the days of having to look for a marker pen! When using Edge or capturing images with Snip or OfficeLens the experience is further enhanced. As cheesy as it sounds I have found ‘Annotation Heaven!’.
So when I look at an IT suite I cannot help think how this equipment, while with all its benefits, in todays age of EdTech and 21st Century teaching and learning is now presenting limitations – allowing our pupils to fly……but not soar high!