ICT Awards for Schools

We have spent billions on ICT in the UK; mostly on Microsoft products endorsed by Becta, so where has it got us ... maybe the Excellence Awards give us a clue? My prediction: the 2011 awards will go to a teacher using open source powered slates...

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We have spent billions on ICT in the UK; mostly on Microsoft products endorsed by Becta, so where has it got us ... maybe the Excellence Awards give us a clue?

My prediction: the 2011 awards will go to a teacher using open source powered slates ... maybe.

You can tell a lot about a school from the ICT systems it deploys. Well actually you can’t, I made that bit up, schools are deeply schizophrenic institutions and no-one can deduce anything from the number of ICT suites they have other than at one time there was a lot of money at someone’s disposal.

This does not of course stop national awards being given each year to schools for exemplary and innovative use of ICT. Indeed it is lurking around these awards that we used to find (and apparently still do) Becta and its flat-footed cronies defining ICT excellence and ‘approving’ all sorts of things technical ... to the detriment of all.

Bit by bit it all got a bit silly. Thanks in no small part to ‘Awards’, enthusiastic individual hobbyist staffers (no, not me) were replaced by upwardly mobile management types who bandwagoned ICT facilities into the Sunlit Uplands of fiscal disaster wherein bewildered teachers grappled with buggy software.

To illustrate this dismal scene further you simply need to read the following extract from a ‘Teaching Awards 2010 Winner’ to get a flavour of where it all lead:

‘To assist with the management of his department he developed a fully inclusive departmental e-portfolio for use by teachers, which contains all departmental materials and resources necessary including policies, teaching resources, departmental planning and schemes of work’.

ZZZZ ... sorry, anyone still awake...no? But yes Becta loved this initiative (especially as it came once again from Northern Ireland ) and apparently think the above description is a ‘good thing’...

That folks, sadly, is the official zenith of ICT in education ... on which by the way we have spent billions. Makes VLEs look exciting eh?

You may deduce that I am a little jaded when it comes to e-portfolios, virtual learning environments and the rest but I have not quite thrown in the towel, yet.

I just read a press release encouraging entries for 2011 ICT Teaching awards run by The Guardian in partnership with Asus.

Teachers use Slates in Schools

It was Asus that piqued my interest. I am a fan of Asus. I have loads of their kit … two EeePC boxes which I run headless as web servers (Ubuntu server), a Skype phone (an embedded Linux OS), and an EeePC notebook (Ubuntu remix).

I am inevitably reminded of the launch of the EeePC notebook some while ago now which ran a (nasty) version of nasty Xandros Linux. The EeePC notebook was to herald the emergence of Linux as the OS of choice in the notebook mass market as MS did not really have a suitable OS at the time. Even RM re-badged it and sold a shed load of Linux notebooks to schools thereby becoming the biggest free, open source vendor in the UK.

Then the inevitable happened. Schools wanted to link them up to the Windows Domain ... anyway to cut a long story short, the tech-droids in schools freaked and Linux notebooks died. RM got a bit burnt, and MS made Windows 7 suitable for small devices (sort of).

However I still love Asus and am waiting for their super duper EeeSlate. It has all you need for schools; video cam, wireless, e-reader, good large screen; in fact it is a possible candidate for the school slate.

Unfortunately, presumably still smarting from the netbook experience, Asus is launching with Windows 7 embedded. There are however rumours that if Windows 7 for slates becomes the new Vista (Steve B is selling a lot of his shares and there are rumblings already) then ever pragmatic Asus will switch to sexy Android thereby reversing the unfortunate notebook history.

In any case, wouldn't it be cool if the 2011 awards for ICT showed how a new personal device could form the heart of students’ learning?

No more tales of computer assisted bureaucracy masquerading as excellence in schools, just a personal Electronic Learning Access Device (eeLAD) employed in the service of the ancient art of education.

No, you’re right, It’s a flight of fancy, the MS Windows network is here forever, I’ll just log onto Blackboard...and fill in an e-portfolio ... bu***r its bugged maybe I’ll try to upload an assignment ... b*****r that’s bugged too ‘does not support ‘Chrome’ on ‘Unix’’ hey ho....

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