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Archive for the 'ICT in education' Category

How AI can eradicate exam stress forever

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 25 May 2016

Rose Luckin.
The recent leaking of SAT papers and the growing body of evidence on the stress and anxiety experienced by students who have to sit a battery of tests and exams highlight an area of serious concern. It is all particularly frustrating because it does not have to be like this.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) could wipe out all this pain and change schools forever: it could do away with the need for exams.
This is not to suggest that we should do away with assessment. It is essential that we know how students are progressing in their knowledge, understanding and skills, and how teaching practices and educational systems are or are not successful. However, assessment does not have to mean tests and exams.
Artificial Intelligence is difficult to define because it is constantly shifting and interdisciplinary. However, in our new report Intelligence Unleashed we identify a (more…)

Who will win the Next Gen Oscars?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 26 February 2016

Andrew Burn
In this season of media excitement about the BAFTAs and Oscars, it seems reasonable for educators to ask where the next generation of film-makers might come from. Recent government policy in Arts education has certainly begun to take note of the value of film-making for young people, prodded by specialist institutions, in particular the British Film Institute (BFI). The lottery-funded Into Film programme provides opportunities for young people to watch and make films.
Nevertheless, when it comes to the school curriculum, film education and media education are pretty well invisible. They are certainly ranked lower than Art and Music, which are National Curriculum subjects, and even Dance and Drama, embedded respectively within PE and English.
These are topics I address in my inaugural professorial lecture, about to be published by UCL IOE Press. Entitled In Defence of the Media Arts: Screen Education in the Twenty-First Century, it argues that politicians and educators need to take media arts education (more…)

How shift to computer-based tests could shake up PISA education rankings

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 19 February 2016

John Jerrim.

The world’s most important examination is moving online. Since the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development launched the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2000, it has provided an influential and timely update every three years of how 15-year-old school children’s mathematics, science and reading skills compare across the globe.
Poor performance has “shocked” a number of national governments into action, and they have embarked on a range of extensive reforms to their school systems.
Whereas each of the five cycles of tests completed between 2000 and 2012 were completed on paper, 58 of the 72 economies who participated in PISA 2015 between November and December last year administered the PISA test using computers – including the UK.
My new research starts to show that this shift is likely to influence the results of PISA (more…)

Students, Computers and Learning: we could do so much better, and here’s how

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 17 September 2015

Rose Luckin
The 200 page report published this week by the OECD is packed with tables and figures that tell a story about the state of 15-year-olds’ educational attainment in maths, reading, science and digital skills in 2012 across the participating countries.
The negative message from this report has received considerable publicity: countries that have invested heavily in ICT for education do not show improved student achievements in reading, mathematics and science. Less use of the internet is linked to better reading performance and frequent use of technology in school is linked to lower performance. The UK did not participate in this study, but findings being presented to the British Educational Research Association today (Thursday) appear to back it up.
All this sounds very depressing, but it is not the key message we should take away from the report. Instead we should be (more…)

London Festival of Education: vibrant, unpredictable, so much more exciting than golf

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 10 February 2015

Chris Husbands
I remember an occasion early in my teaching career when I went to try to see my headteacher at the end of a school day. His secretary (there were no PAs in those days) told me that he was ‘on a course’ after school every Wednesday. As a young teacher, I was impressed that senior professionals were still committed to their own learning. It was some time before I discovered he was playing golf.
We used to separate professional development and enjoyment. One of the great things about the London Festival of Education is that it puts them back together. This year’s LFE – here at the IOE on 28 February – is another vibrant, buzzing treasure house of debate to stimulate you, workshops to enhance your practice, entertainment to engage you: great speakers, great sessions, fabulous festival food for the stomach and the mind. No (more…)

What is the problem for which MOOCs are the solution?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 14 May 2014

Diana Laurillard, London Knowledge Lab
MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses – have been grabbing headlines and conference time for a year or two now. It’s the very large numbers that attract attention. But are MOOCs solving any real, global education problems? They are certainly not solving the problem of providing the 100,000,000 university places now needed by young people in emerging economies desperate for HE. This will double by 2025. They are not the people taking MOOCs.
They are not solving the problem that in the US student loan debt is now higher than credit card debt; nor the problem that in the UK 40% of student loans will not be repaid. University fees remain high while graduate pay is still low.
Massive sums have been invested in these courses by universities and venture capitalists, but right now the main beneficiaries are those who need it least. The most popular MOOCs are in computer science, finance and psychology. They do attract large numbers – sometimes hundreds of thousands to one course. But the people most likely to stay the course and gain a free qualification are well-educated men in their 30s working in professional jobs. Research by MOOC provider Coursera shows that 85% of MOOC participants already have university degrees.
So the problem MOOCs succeed in solving is: to provide free university teaching for highly qualified professionals.
Consider another problem: achieving the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015. UNESCO data show (PDF) that by 2015 there will still be 53m children out of school.
When attempting to address our most ambitious educational goals, it should be a professional habit always to ask “how can technology help?” – especially when they are large-scale.
How do we reach these children? The answer is that we don’t, not directly. We focus first on developing the teachers. UNESCO estimates that we need 1,600,000 teachers to achieve universal primary education by 2015 (PDF page 223). Suppose we could use MOOC-style courses to provide teacher development for 10,000 teacher educators in the cities of developing countries? And each of those could use the same MOOC materials to train 10 teachers in the local towns? And each of those could train 16 local teachers in their villages? And they in turn could reach the children who would not otherwise have had any primary schooling…?
Here at the IOE, we are making a start. Supported by the UNESCO Institute for IT in Education we are pioneering a MOOC on ICT in Primary Education. It’s due to begin on 27 May, and we have already enrolled over 4000 teachers, school leaders, policy-makers and other educationists from more than 50 countries. It will run for 6 weeks, and is built around case studies of good practice from around the world.
This is a professional development course for which the teaching methods currently used in MOOCs – videos, forums and quizzes* – are appropriate, because teachers are professionals who know how to learn, and can learn a lot from each other. These methods are not sophisticated enough for teaching children or even undergraduates in the developing world, which is why the beneficiaries are still the rich. But they may help to train the professionals who can begin to make the difference.
The demand for education will continue to rise; we cannot afford to scale up at the current per student cost, in any sector, in any country. And even at the modest cost of $49, our CPD MOOC is a stretch for teachers from developing countries**.
If we are to have any hope of reaching our most ambitious educational goal of universal primary education, we have to find innovative ways of teaching. MOOCs could be part of the solution, but only if we start focusing on the problems we have.
Free university education for highly qualified professionals is not one of them.
* However, the UK’s FutureLearn does have more ambitious plans for the pedagogy it will support.
**Recently we asked Coursera for differential pricing by country, and I was delighted to see in their latest roadmap that they are responding to pressure on this, and will introduce it soon.

Ageing in a digital world: the opera

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 7 March 2013

Andrea Creech
Something very special has been happening in the depths of the East Sussex countryside. Today, tomorrow and Saturday (March 7-9 2013) music-lovers will be arriving at Glyndebourne to see the world premiere of a brand new opera by Orlando Gough and Stephen Plaice. Right at the heart of this production is an intergenerational  community chorus aged 16-80, some of whom have never been involved in music making before, collaborating with international artists.
The opera, Imago, focuses on the theme of ageing in a digital world. This piece is a tour de force, both musically and technically. Community participants have mastered complex musical challenges that would have vexed the most experienced professional musicians. Young and older participants alike have been tweeting, blogging and face booking about their experience, as they prepared for the premiere.
This project is special on so many levels. This is a remarkable example of community learning, of peer support, of experiential learning and of the power of music. Glyndebourne, an international centre of musical excellence is an extraordinary context for this venture. As one chorus member said to me, “this is the real deal”. The production is supported with the full weight of Glyndebourne’s resources. In this content of excellence participants have exceeded personal and collective expectations.
In the run-up to this week’s event, old and young have been working together in an atmosphere of mutual respect. In the orchestra pit community musicians were being mentored, playing alongside professional musicians. The sense of community was compelling, as the entire company pulled together, united by a common purpose. Aspirations have been raised. Individuals have experienced deep levels of musical engagement, drawing on previously unknown personal resources.
Imago addresses a very topical issue – ageing in the modern world. In the UK, where our population of centenarians has risen by 84% since 2000, we need compassionate initiatives that enrich the lives of older people and help them to sustain wellbeing.  Music is just such an initiative. Glyndebourne has got this one exactly right. The story line is highly topical and fosters some deep thinking about what ageing means.
Most importantly, Imago is a tangible example of how music can be affirming, sustaining and transformative, acting as a vehicle for young and old alike to experience enhanced well being. It is also compelling evidence that when individuals of any age have the benefit of first class opportunities and expert support they really will rise to the challenge, achieving remarkable things.
Andrea Creech is conducting an evaluation of this project for Glyndebourne

Decoding learning: the proof, promise and potential of digital education

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 16 November 2012

Rose Luckin and Richard Noss
Yesterday evening, Nesta launched its report: Decoding Learning: The Proof, Promise and Potential of Digital Education. The report was written for Nesta by researchers at the IOE’s London Knowledge Lab (LKL) and Learning Sciences Research Institute (LSRI) at Nottingham University and it pulls together evidence about the innovative use of technology to support learning and the impact this can have for students.
The report offers a wealth of examples of learning and teaching being supported by well-used technology and is organised around learning activities rather than by types of technology: this is technology answering real problems of education, not finding something to do with the technology. Yet this is the way so much evidence and innovation is classified: the authors argue that we need to move towards a focus on learning and what works for learners. Unless we do so, they argue, the questions we end up asking are at best unhelpful and at worst, meaningless. For example, the only answer to questions such as “Do games help learning?” is to say, “It depends.” And the same with iPads, mobile phones, the latest programming language or system and so on. We can make the questions meaningful by “thinking about the types of learning activities that we know to be effective, such as making and sharing, and then exploring the ways that technology can support and develop these effective learning activities in innovative ways”.
The report identifies trends and opportunities grounded in effective practice and sets out what the authors believe are some of the most compelling opportunities to improve learning through technology. However, understanding how technology can be employed to improve learning is only part of the equation. There are systemic challenges that need to be addressed if technology is to fulfill its potential to support learning and the millions of pounds invested are really to represent value for money.
Linking industry, research and practice to realise the potential of digital education
There is strong evidence of a disconnect between the key partners involved in developing educational technology. This situation makes little sense at a time when technology has become consumerised across society, and there is increasing evidence for the efficacy of technology as a learning tool in many contexts. Academic, and practitioner research particularly, is poorly connected and is typically conducted in isolation from the technology developers whose products grace our schools and homes. And yet, both researchers and the developers of educational technology need to know from the start whether, and how, their work enhances learning. Industry, researchers and practitioners need to work closely together to test ideas and evaluate potential innovations at a time when design changes can easily be implemented and products can be improved before they are taken to market. Such a process would benefit industry by providing clearer evidence of effectiveness to boost sales; and it would benefit practitioners who would have access to better products on the market.
Make better use of what we’ve got
We need to change the mindset amongst teachers and learners: from a “plug and play” approach where digital tools are used, often in isolation, for a single learning activity; to one of “think and link” where those tools are used in conjunction with other resources where appropriate, for a variety of learning activities. Teachers have always been highly creative, developing a wide range of resources for learners. As new technologies become increasingly prevalent, they will increasingly need to be able to digitally “stick and glue”. To achieve this, teachers will need to develop and share ways of using new technologies – either through informal collaboration or formal professional development. But they cannot be expected to do this alone. They need time and support from school leaders to explore the full potential of the technologies they have at their fingertips as tools for learning. School leaders can further assist teacher development by tapping into the expertise available in the wider community.
We need to know more about what is happening when technology is used effectively

We need better evidence about the contexts in which technology is being used effectively. Evidence about the impact of technology on teaching and learning is gathered from a huge variety of learning settings, and reported without adequate indexing of the contextual factors that influence the nature and scale of the impact recorded. This means that applying the findings of any research study to a fresh setting is severely hampered.
In sum, the report tries to assess the evidence, not just looking for proof of “effect” – but asking relevant questions that can indeed be answered, and which can provide grounds for planning intervention in the learning and teaching process.

Kiss Goodbye to ICT (or KISS hello to Computer Science?)

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 31 October 2012

Rose Luckin and Richard Noss
Ever since Eric Schmidt of Google expressed his shock at UK children not learning computer science, there has been a flurry of activity to introduce programming to children at an early age. This includes Education Secretary Michael Gove’s abolition of the existing ICT Programme of Study in favour of a more rigorous and challenging attempt to teach computer science, especially programming. It is an admirable point of view that we both strongly support. But before we all go overboard, there are a couple of essential questions:
1) Does the plan align with what research tells us about teaching children programming, why we are in favour of it, and what we might expect from it? 
There have been nearly 50 years of development and research dedicated to finding ways for non-programmers to program. In 1967, Seymour Papert and his colleagues at MIT invented Logo, a language that was good for kids – and this at a time when the only thing one could do with a computer was to program it.
But as Papert said, a language that is only good for kids is not good for kids! He meant that programming languages are powerful ways for people to build understanding, access to formal systems of thought (like mathematics), which are essential ways for people to express their ideas about the world, and to make sense of it. That’s why programming is important: not just to increase the supply of programmers (important) or to introduce to everyone what is under the bonnet of the systems that power our society (essential), but to introduce the power of computational thinking.
2) The DfE announcement of “around 50 scholarships worth £20,000 each is accompanied by the granting of permission to top universities and schools to provide new Computer Science teacher training courses from September 2013, tough requirements for Computer Science subject knowledge for new teachers, and training “around” 500 teachers in Computer Science through a new “Network of Computer Science Teaching Excellence”.  BUT, does this new plan adhere to the design principle well loved in the computer science labs of our undergraduate days: KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid?
This useful little principle is a valuable reminder that most systems work best if they are kept simple and therefore simplicity is a key design principle. In order to keep things simple designers need to understand what problem their design is addressing. So are we clear about what is wrong with computer science and ICT in schools now and more importantly are we all clear about exactly what we want learners to be able to achieve as a result of studying computer science? Do we want to skill up the new workforce for the UK’s games industry, or encourage a new generation of engineers and computer scientists, or do we want to encourage young people to make rather than take their technology? This question should drive the way we train our teaching workforce and simplicity should be the watchword for the systems we design to deliver a solution.
A simple and useful truth is that the skills of computational thinking can be taught with or without computers, by exploring how processes work, looking for problems in everyday systems, examining patterns in data, and questioning evidence. With a computer, learners can put their computational thinking into action. A focus on computational thinking will better equip learners to use their understanding effectively and to learn how to apply a range of computing tools. Ensuring that all UK students develop good computational thinking would be a clear and simple answer to the question of what we want students to achieve.
There are no short cuts to a solution. The key to being able to design the necessarily simple system for training the teaching workforce is to fully understand that workforce, the context in which teachers teach and learners learn (both inside and outside the classroom or lecture hall), and the constraints under which they operate. The real power of KISS is the way that it highlights the need to think about how the system you are designing might break down, to identify the tools and processes that will be available to mend things when they do go wrong.
We must therefore ask: has there been enough input into this new system design from teachers and learners to ensure that the new measures are simple enough to be easily mended when inevitably things don’t work quite as they should?
To see how learners and teachers really want to “hack” the education to meet their needs come along to the Re-Designing our Education Education Hack Event on November 16-17. Or you can see the results at the London Festival of Education on Saturday, 17 November.

Dear Mr Gove: Technology is the key to the heart of your vision

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 29 June 2012

Richard Noss

An open letter to the Secretary of State for Education

I am writing to support your ambition to introduce more rigour into the teaching and learning of our young people. As we move further into the 21st century it is growing ever clearer that technology can play a crucial role in raising standards.
Our new report, System Upgrade: Realising the Vision for UK Education, draws together the findings of the five-year £12m Technology Enhanced Learning Research Programme. It argues that learning can be radically transformed for the better by the careful design and deployment of technologies and draws on hard empirical evidence to show how.
Increasingly, children use technology in their out of school lives, not just to socialise but to learn. The same technologies enable us to gain insights into what actually helps them learn. Researchers now “data mine” the records of thousands of students’ interactions with technology-enhanced learning systems. Data-mining is revealing which curriculum components pull their weight in terms of learning outcomes, very difficult information to collect in traditional ways. An educational game such as Zombie Division doesn’t just help children improve their maths skills. It also logs their performance in order to provide teachers with valuable information about what division problems a particular child finds difficult or easy.
We know that we can build software that exploits the power of personal devices, that catches the wave of social networks to share ideas and foster teamwork – a skill that is not only demanded by industry but that will be assessed in the next PISA exercise.
We can use technology to understand better how people learn; to assess what matters rather than what is easy to assess; to help pupils bring their learning of, say, mathematics into the real world and apply it – another work place-friendly skill. We can use the latest techniques of artificial intelligence to help children with special needs and we can enhance teachers’ productivity by doing more for less – both time and money.
How to achieve this? Well, investment would help. But above all, we believe our findings are essential to the debate, to help raise the level of discussion beyond “pro” and “anti” technology lobbies. Our aims are the same as yours: to make learning more rigorous and, thanks to technology, more accessible to all.
Finally, few would take issue with your desire for young children to learn a language. But the discussion seems limited to whether it should be French, Spanish or Mandarin. What about the language of computers? The advent of a new wave of cheap tools (Raspberry Pi, Arduino) means children can explore the building blocks of technology from an early age. It is possible that a generation of UK children could become fluent in coding – the language that increasingly underlies our world?
Professor Richard Noss
Director: Technology Enhanced Learning Research Programme
London Knowledge Lab
Emerald Street London WCIN