Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Common Perspectives

It´s interesting sharing time with people in the advisory field of IT education and hear some of their common complaints and to note that they´re the same, in essence, from every country represented in the group. All of them have had a moan about a core group of users who simply do not develop beyond the rudimentary levels of IT expertise, no matter how many times they sign up for IT Basic Skills courses. Indeed, in areas of Spain where, after a number of years, passage to enhanced payscale is dependent on having undergone a specific number of hours of inset training - I recall it was 100 hours - they have actually banned people from repeatedly signing up for the lower level IT courses.
As far as our own experience at Hawkes Farm is concerned, I think this problem only applies in particular cases with particular individuals - a case in point being the use of digital cameras and images by TA´s, though I am hoping the recent session on Picasa will have helped in that regard.
The other complaint - and it has to be said this has been strongest from the two UK participants - is the tendency of advice and support to be focused on failing schools and ineffectual teachers, with the result that there is little time and effort spent on developing expertise and practice which is already innovative. That´s what interests me about the various projects under way in Bristol. Because it is a ´failing´area with poor test results, the government is pouring funds into projects in the hope that standards will be raised. Although the projects are focused on the failing schools and areas in the city authority, they are exciting enough to be a motivation for all.

We haven´t had much general discussion of learning platforms yet, although in Spain the drift seems to be towards using Linux and Moodle. Ayleen Driver is an enthusiastic proponent of Fronter - http://fronter.info/com//products_start/FronterVLE.html - a Scandinavian [Norwegian, not Swedish] product.

Yesterday we had a pub style lunch in a bar decked out cowboy style. Today we eat at the school we´re visiting. I´m working on the guest PC in the hotel foyer. Last night I went online to check email in the local public library, which is huge in relation to the size of the town. And very lively. There was some form of public reading happening. I was on the point of leaving when a local schoolgirl began singing with guitar and harmonica in the talk´s interval. She only played three songs, two in Swedish and one in English, but she was stunningly good. A Swedish star of the future, I´d say. Her name - Elina Ahlander.

Time for breakfast now.

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