My new blog: All things education and ICT

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I have written a blog for my now ex-employer for nearly two years. It was another ex-employee Tom Callway who got me into it and encouraged/censored my attempts. Bless him, I even managed to convince Tom I could be funny and not actually destroy the company.

ComputerworldUK kindly syndicated our corporate blog and it has been such good fun. At first I just liked having a vehicle to sound off, all very egocentric but as time went on two things happened.

Firstly, the very best bit was contact via replies from readers ( and indeed also second order feedback from Google Analytics) and secondly having run out of 'hobby horses' giving a lot of subjects some proper thought and even research! Maybe this sounds a bit cheesy but it was engagement of others that kept it all going.

My first incarnation, for those who read me, was as an apologist for free, open source software, most often with an education slant. Unfailingly it was education topics that found the most readers, however sometimes it was hard to keep everything relevant to open source software.

Don't get me wrong, I love open source software but sometimes I found myself setting stuff in Antarctica (Hell Freezes Over 2008) just to get a penguin into the blog (geddit?).

Now my remit is simply ICT and Edu...no excuses now, there is a lot of material here.

I hope for two more things: Firstly to find topics that resonate with people who are concerned about education, technology and the future, ideally to extend sufficiently in scope so that independently of me a debate begins about the use of technology with/by young people.

Secondly I want to become that annoying piece of grit (no, not the annoying s***) that eventually prompts some response for the greater good.

I was not suited for office life (I do not have a TV but I once saw that program called the Office...I thought they were joking ) but now as a freelance I have no excuses for under performance.

To kick things off, a bit of philosophy.

Why stuff goes wrong.

As far as I know there is no book with the above title but there should be. The nearest is the great science philosophy writer Tomas Kuhn who goes on about paradigms a lot.

A paradigm is a bit like a super-theory, it is a way of thinking and going about things. As time goes on it is added to and complicated, Kuhn calls it elaboration. During this phase it attracts adherents and grows.

Paradigms though are very zeitgeisty and, it transpires, are incredibly unlikely to be ditched on Friday afternoon just because some idiot has found evidence that it is erroneous. Kuhn refers to it as a 'what will we do on Monday morning then?' problem.

He does think however that an over elaborated paradigm goes out of fashion due to an accretion of failure and withers away.

My observations differ slightly. It seems to me that a paradigm once adopted is indeed elaborated and propagated as Kuhn describes but continues on juggernaut-like even when evidence shows overwhelmingly that it is broken. I can think of many, many instances of this in education and where the simple response to contra-evidence is to fix the data, naughty data.

Paradigms change I think only when confronted by events. As famous ex PM Macmillan once said 'events dear boy, events' in response to a journalist's question as to what would blow a government off course. We have had some humdingers of events recently.

The banking crisis of course but I love the Icelandic volcano, I think I can hear a paradigm shifting without a clutch (attrb Scott Adams Dilbert) re air transport...

...I also remember the extended baker's strike in the 1970's..it signalled the death of the all dominant sliced white loaf no less.

School ICT: the wrong paradigm?

And so to the blog post. The last 15 years have seen the articulation of an ICT paradigm within schools that has enjoyed explosive growth. No evidence of any real significance has been produced to say that it is even as 'good as sliced bread' for educating young people but its increase proceeds yet.

Young people spend more and more time in front of a screen, often 12 hrs or more per day, aided and abetted by schools. Teacher's voices of dissent are ignored, even the funding crisis which highlights the sheer unaffordability of the school ICT systems has not blown it off course, merely changed the technological cost base away from PCs to Clouds and suchlike.

So dear reader my question is, 'what bakers' strike will occur to shift this paradigm?'

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