Friday, 1 October 2010

Virtual learning - real food 2

Ewen McIntosh making a point at the virtual learning dinner
A year ago I wrote a post titled Virtual Learning - Real Food about a small working dinner co-hosted by Frank Locker and myself during the cefpi conference in Washington DC. The conversations were fascinating, but we all knew that there was far more to say....

This year at cefpi in San Jose, both the dinner with fab food and conversation continued, with largely the same twenty or so people. It is fair to say that the conversation was much more advanced and detailed this year, even if fewer people spoke. it is clear that there is a growing commitment to the use of technology to support learning in the US. The focus seems to be growing there, as it becomes a less centrally discussed subject here - which frankly, is bizarre.
It was really pleasing that we were joined by interesting and well known people such as Ewan McIntosh, at cefpi for the first time. Ewen bought another fascinating dimension to the discussions and his own brand of humour, knowledge and intellect. He certainly enhanced the conversation.
I noted this year that the 'genie is out of the bottle' - we cannot put 'the stopper back into it'. Those schools who under BSF have gained generous, robust and reliable systems, along with plenty of kit have a transformed ICT experience from the days of unreliable, slow systems that frustrated staff, students and community alike. This will encourage greater confidence for everyone and ICT will become an increasingly important part of learning.
BUT, what about those schools who have lost out in the BSF programme - they will now potentially not get the enhanced ICT provision in the same way as the earlier phase schools. This just cannot be fair, and potentially brings in greater inequalities in provision between BSF schools and those whose schemes were stopped. I know that there will be a range of strategies, and schools are responding in a variety of ways, but there is little detail yet. What ever political decisions are made, equality for all learners is just vital - we cannot have different levels of provision for people depending on where they live. So how is it going to be sorted out?

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