BETT the annual education technology fair is on at the moment in London and always brings attention to the use of technology in Schools. The BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones has written an interesting Blog post about the use of gaming and mobile phones in the classroom, so-called “playful learning” take a look at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/rorycellanjones/2010/01/playing_games_in_class.html
Meanwhile in Suffolk the County Council are concerned about poor exam results in Schools and you might imagine they would be looking for innovative solutions such as the above from BETT.
Looking at this terms papers for Governing Body meetings that sadly seems unlikely as a paper on e-safety paints a very negative picture. Technology:
- exposes children and young people to prolonged periods of abuse (cyber-bullying, sex-texting and grooming)
- further encouraging children and young people to develop unhealthy lifestyles through lack of sleep, physical exercise etc
- opens up younger audiences to grooming by paedophiles
(Source https://www.schoolsurf.suffolkcc.gov.uk/docs/unrestricted/Governor_Centre/Agendas_and_Meeting_Papers/2010_Spring_Term/2010-01-01%20Information%20Sheet%20Spring%202010.doc )
Now all these risks are clearly real and need addressing but there is no mention of the massive benefits that such technology also brings and the improvements to the life chances of children that can result in their learning how to use such technology safely.
Seems strange that if such technology is so damaging to children then a further paper goes on to tell us that following a successful pilot in Suffolk a new “Home Access” scheme is being extended across the country to provide funds to buy this kind of technology to use at home for those that can’t afford it. The fact is that the more children have access to Information and Communication technology the better they do at School and the more their life chances are improved.
The real issue though is that many in education are already cynical enough about the use of technology and if it is presented as dangerous they will just continue to ignore it and avoid its use as much as possible. Many in education seem almost proud to admit they have never used sites such as Facebook but yet are full of talk of the dangers.
I wouldn’t take advice on road safety from someone who can’t drive so why do we expect our children to listen to people who haven’t even used the technologies?
For children from homes bursting with technology this won’t matter much but for those with more limited access their education and life chances will be limited.
The other issue is that the important e-safety message won’t be got across effectively by Schools scared of technology. Much more effective is to embrace the technology and make sure the safety message is got across that way. It just might help to improve those exam results too!