Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Surfing in Scotland

Its beautiful weather this week. Makes me look forward to my annual surf trip with a couple of friends. I can't surf, but getting into a wetsuit,hauling my board over the beach and getting pounded by the waves for a day or two always does me good!

Along with hopeful longings for surf this week has come a disappointment;

Every year for ever I have attended with interest, the Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow along with thousands of other educators from this fair land. This year, we submitted an application to take a seminar there to showcase the amazing changes that we've seen since the advent of iPad. Yesterday we received a polite rejection of our submission. This rejection caused me to think about where we stand as a country in our attitude to technology.

It was at the Learning Festival a few years back, we began to hear of the existence of technology that would revolutionise the classroom, bringing interactivity and collaboration to lessons and opening up a world of possibilities for the teacher. The words 'interactive whiteboard', began first to be whispered and quickly shouted by keen enthusiasts who thought that these would transform our classrooms and learning.
Schools bought in, big time.

Whiteboards and, shhh, blackboards disappeared and schools across the country fitted projectors and interactive boards by Smart and Promethian into every classroom. Today, it's hard to find a classroom without one.

We went on courses to see them in action, downloaded the latest software and spent hours and hours (and hours) creating content for lessons that children could drag across the screen, reveal by removing screen shades, match, copy, group and link.
These were exciting times and, for many teachers, represented a first plunge into a world where technology invaded the classroom. Some older staff resisted the tide of change and head teachers across the country battled to change attitudes in order to keep up with this latest craze.

Let's not be too snooty about these efforts and this enthusiasm. Just because we look back and see so many flaws in these devices, have moved on incredibly and now enjoy interactivity in the classroom that goes way beyond allowing a child or small group access to pre-prepared material on the board.

These were the days when schools finally adopted technology wholesale.

It's such a shame now, when we all know that these boards have not transformed our classrooms, that their interactivity is minimal, that the software is flaky and that content creation for them is more time-consuming than paper lessons ever were, and when we are blessed with more and more affordable 1:1 solutions such as iPad that are truly interactive and open up worlds of potential for learning and communicating that our country seems to shun such advances. I don't know why our SLF seminar was rejected, possibly they don't favour private, Christian schools or dont want to showcase technology that they think is unaffordable.

Maybe they think it would upset the sellers of interactive whiteboard who have paid good money for stands in the conference hall.

One thing is for sure; you can't stop the tide. Once one wave has broken, it's no good looking wistfully after it and refusing to turn around. There's another wave coming, bigger and more powerful than the last.

Come on Scotland, surf's up!


  1. They rejected your proposal? Wow - how amazingly short-sighted of them! I haven't done a fraction of what you've done with iPads & I am amazed at how interested people are in it!

  2. Ah well, c'est la vie!

    We are actually taking some children to help staff one of the stands so we'll be there one way or another!