Wednesday, March 28

TES: the one that got away?

Last week I was rather shocked by an article in the TES (Times Educational Supplement) that seemed to suggest that we shouldn't bother making an effort to support reluctant learners.

As a die-hard techie it is a rare moment that I actually write anything (other than blog postings, of course), but I was enthused enough to send a gobsmacked-type email to the TES Editors.

Shock-horror: they replied! the main editor of the TES wrote back and said:
Thank you for your letter. ...... I'm afraid this leader is one that got away. The TES doesn't support the view that schools and colleges should wash their hands of reluctant students. We are carrying a letter in FE Focus this week making some of the points you raise.
I am not sure if this quite counts as a "simpering apology", but I look forward to reading the letter they publish about it!

For those still reading ... here is what I wrote:

Dear TES

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry when I read your editorial on the use of m-learning in Pembrokeshire. At first I assumed it was an attempt at a joke, though quickly realised it was in fact serious!

Your writer seems to have missed out on 90% of the work that Pembrokeshire College has done, focusing instead on the headline grabbing (albeit rather tired) issues of loaning phones to students, and the text-inspired slang they may chose to write in.

Right now, the UK sits amongst the leading countries in the world when it comes to using innovative and new technologies to enhance learning. Sadly, it tends to only happen in specific pockets around the country, but these pockets are being held up, world wide, as examples of best practice. They are being used to help us all rethink how we are able to deliver learning to the maximum benefit for the widest range of our citizens.

The Pembrokeshire work, which won a Beacon Award, is exemplary in that it deploys the technology appropriately and in conjunction with many other teaching techniques, technologies and practices. The team there were involved in the very first m-learning project in 2003/2004 which is when I was pleased to get to know them.

Would your editorial writer prefer us not to innovate, but rather sit still and wait to be overtaken by others that do?

Working with new media always presents risks, but despite the hype, the issues raised in your editorial have not featured in any of the many projects that we have been involved with over the last few years, spanning several thousands of learners.

For anyone interested in finding out some of the facts, here are a couple of useful websites which also include some of the research reports that describe what is actually happening: (specifically the reports, here: ) (for some future gazing schools) (for a lot of the current academic study)

as well as some very active blogs and community sites:

I hope this helps set the record straight, and keeps the flag of innovation flying

Yours sincerely

Geoff Stead

Ps: I know that several very influential practitioners and innovators are formulating a reply to your article, which I will be signing up to as well.

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