Is ICT magic, or magical? Or is it just more hard work than it’s worth? The Bendigo Innovations & Excellence bunch recently put on what was meant to be an extravaganza of ICT workshops (“ICT Magic”), run by teachers from Bendigo. Well…it was more of a fizzer unfortunately, probably due to end-of-year fatigue, which is a bit worrying given that it’s 2 months from the end of year. Half the workshops were cancelled, although thankfully for my sense of self-worth, my session was kept – it went reasonably well, although I felt people were more reticent about trying it out than at HTAV.
But it did get me thinking about the title of the festival: “ICT Magic”. It’s a misnomer: the use of ICT is anything but magical. Magic implies impossible things happening with sleight of hand – like students being engaged and motivated about learning because of ICT. The term “ICT Magic” is exactly why teachers are suspicious of ICT. Teachers know that any educational tool needs the scaffold of learning structures around it, and that takes work. It is not a matter of inserting ICT into curriculum and…tada! the students learn! The constant mantra of “ICT across the curriculum” is unhelpful in encouraging teachers to use young people’s technology.
ICT is only worth using if it opens up learning possibilities that are absent without it. I include in “learning possibilities” the fact that ICT can be a motivating factor in student learning – that is, it can be used as a carrot to get students working. But this fact should not be the primary reason for ICT use as gimmickry will soon follow. One example of how ICT has opened up learning possibilities in my class is through the link with a USA school. Eric Langhorst and I are having our students create podcasts about our local areas, which are then posted on the internet for us to access – this exchange could not have happened without technology.