Saturday, August 13, 2005

Research Blog: It's good to talk

I've handed over my laptop to the tender care of the technicians to have the hard disk flattened and everything re-installed from scratch.
Sad face
...But first I managed to rescue the data!
I was quite pleased with myself on that one. A friend put me in touch with a small computer shop his pal runs in Bridgeton. The guys in the shop recommended a do-hickey that would let me use the hard disk from my laptop as an external hard disk on another machine. I am pleased to say it worked brilliantly and I got all my data copied off the laptop before I handed it over to be re-built.

While waiting to get it back I did the first of my follow up interviews on Friday. I was hoping to interview a group of three, but unfortunately one had to call off at the last minute. However the interview with the remaining two seemed to go well. Both students were very positive about ICT in general and our FirstClass system in particular.

originally uploaded by gustavospud.
I've got the interview recorded and it will take a bit more work to analyse what they are saying, but I was pleased to hear that their views weren't too dissimilar from the students I interviewed in 2002. I've another interview lined up for Monday and a few people that I will interview on the phone. Ideally I'd like at least one or two more interviews but with term starting next week that will be tricky to arrange.

One of the questions I wanted to follow up in the interview was, "It is disturbing to think my pupils may know more about ICT than I do." This question has always produced a mixed reaction from the students, but the two students on Friday were quite relaxed about this possibility. If the next group are just as relaxed I think I will need to email more students to try and get some divergent views. I may send out an email anyway because although they were quite relaxed about the possibility, they couldn't give me an example where it actually happened. I wonder if specific examples would frighten or reassure people who are already nervous?

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Jo McLeay said...

It's good that you were able to rescue your data. As a fellow teacher researcher I can quite empathise. What are you researching?
Jo from Oz

Ewan McIntosh said...

I don't think pupils do know more than their teachers in many aspects. While they might *use* the computer more often they're not using it for much more than internet surfing and playing games. When I was getting them to make podcasts using Garageband to edit the sound, or when they set about using Google, they need (and ask for) a lot of help. Not to mention how they need their hand held when making Digital Video.

But when they have had their hand held for a very short time, they quickly pick up the idea and that is when teachers might perceive they know more. What would happen if the teacher joined them as they discovered the programmes, rather than relying on the little they have been able to learn in teacher courses and their own, precious free time?

I've seen too many examples where the teacher sees they've got it and leaves the pupils to get on with the task. Perhaps it would be a more effective use of time not to do that paperwork till later and instead learn from the mistakes and successes of our students.

David said...

What exactly am I researching? A question I often ask myself and the subject of much head scratching and anguish. :-)

Initially the title of the research was "Support in an Online Learning Environment" and I was intending to look at the Virtual Learning Environment we use with our one year post-graduate student teachers. However, I have broadened it a bit and am looking not just at how the students use the system (FirstClass) but at their attitudes to ICT more generally. As it has continued to develop though, I think I now have too much stuff and that I'll have to concentrate back down on the VLE. The question I mentioned in this post is really interesting (I think) but may be one of the bits I have to lose. :-(

Thanks Ewan for your comments. It chimes with some of the things I have been thinking about too. In general, the student teachers are relatively confident in their subject knowledge, but as non-ICT specialists they have a fear of being made to look silly. I can sympathise with that. I remember as a final year Computing student I messed about for about fifteen minutes before having to admit defeat and ask a librarian how to turn on a computer I was supposed to be programming for her!

I like Ewan's suggested solution too. People talk about the shift in role for teachers from "Sage on the stage" to the "Guide on the side". I've remarked in the past that I don't want to be "on the side" I want to be "With the masses in the classes" :-)

John Johnston said...

Sometimes I've 'taught' children to use applications that I don't use much myself, iMovie or Audacity come to mind. Later on they teach me some keyboard shortcuts, or quicker ways of doing things that they have discovered. Usually the children are delighted to find out that they know something I don't. I always try to let them know it and would see this as a plus.

Ewan mentioned leaving pupils to get on with tasks, I usually have to do that because I don't have all the class working on computers at the same time, very frustration, but unavoidable without a lab.

David said...

Thanks for your thoughts John. I wonder if there is a difference between Primary and Secondary teachers here. My impression is that Primary teachers let the pupils work independently on open ended problems much more than Secondary teachers. (That's a very sweeping generalisation - feel free to shoot me down!) Perhaps Primary teaching students would be less worried about pupils knowing more than them about ICT because they are more used to children working in the way you describe.

Am I talking rubbish, or would it be worth asking Primary teaching students the same question to see what they make of it?