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Readership: primary, secondary

CLASSROOM PRACTICE:
NEW APPROACHES SUPPORTED BY ICT
The use of ICT in schools offers possibilities for developing being carried out by the National Foundation for Educational
new practices and approaches to teaching and learning.A major Research (NFER) and is funded jointly by the NFER and the
Department for Education and Skills (DfES).
international study (the Second Information Technology in
Education Study – SITES) has collected data about innovative The main aims of the international research include the
ways in which schools are including ICT as part of their following:
classroom practice. Sue Harris, Alison Kington and
◆ to identify and describe innovative pedagogical practices
Barbara Lee describe ways in which two schools in England that use technology;
(one primary and one secondary) implemented practices
◆ to inform practices related to ICT;
supported by ICT.
◆ to provide teachers and other practitioners with information
that they can use to improve classroom practices;
◆ to add to the body of research knowledge and theory about
BACKGROUND the factors across countries that contribute to the successful
and sustained use of innovative technology-based
In the UK there is substantial government commitment to ICT pedagogical practices.
for all, not only through primary, secondary, further and higher
education, but also as a mechanism for lifelong learning. A The research in England is based on case studies carried out in
range of initiatives at national and school levels is intended to three primary and three secondary schools during the school
encourage and increase the confidence and skills of teachers year ending July 2001. The six schools were selected on the
in using ICT, and also their opportunities to include ICT within basis of an innovative practice established within the school
their classroom practice. The use of ICT within the classroom that seemed to have a beneficial impact on pupils (in terms of
offers opportunities for new approaches to teaching and achievement, attitudes, motivation and/or behaviour), and
learning, extending the learning environment beyond the which showed potential for being sustained over time and being
classroom and allowing students to communicate with adults transferred into other year groups and/or other schools. In each
other than their teachers and family members. school, researchers collected data by means of:
● interviews with headteachers and ICT coordinators/
heads of ICT;
SITES ● interviews with teachers using the innovative practices
and with others who were not;
With these new opportunities in mind, the International ● focus groups with pupils in the innovative classes, and
Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement parents of some of these pupils;
(IEA) is currently carrying out a major international
● observations of sessions in which the innovative
comparative study - the Second Information Technology in
practices were used;
Education Study (SITES) - which is designed to collect detailed
information about ICT practices in schools in the participating ● interviews with LEA advisers;
countries and to disseminate the findings at international as ● analysis of school documents, such as school
well as national levels. One aspect of the study is concerned prospectuses and ICT policies.
with the collection of qualitative data, and focuses specifically
on innovative pedagogical practices using technology The national research team has submitted a report on each
(summarised as ‘innovations’), and England is one of the school to the international coordinators. Once the study is
countries involved in this component of the study. Importantly, complete, the case reports from more than 30 countries will be
the emphasis is not on innovative technology, but innovative available via the internet (see http://sitesm2.org). In addition,
practices that involve new or changed roles for teachers and a national report will be published, presenting the main findings
pupils, and in which ICT plays a part. The national research is from the six case studies in England.

Autumn 2002 ● Issue 28 1

The school selected 25 pupils from Year 5 to participate in the one communication by email over an extended period of time epals project. Pupils were selected taking into account both between ten-year-olds and employees at the Ericsson mobile standards of literacy and underlying social and environmental phone factory some 30 miles away. the headteacher and the two Year 5 teachers The origins of the project were involved (one more extensively than the other): the headteacher was responsible for liaising with the two external The project had arisen from the school’s original desire to foster organisations and one of the Year 5 teachers coordinated the a link with industry that would provide support for literacy. all them and encourage them to enter into dialogues school names have been replaced with pseudonyms in using email. 4 This article presents findings from one of the primary schools The main aims of the project were: and one of the secondary schools. but none had wanted to become involved. and crucially. Pupils were also able to take the more attention because they were part of a large family or laptops home. single-parent and unemployed families. some 30 miles away. The incoming emails from The headteacher approached Business in the Community the epals were all directed through the school’s email account (BITC). They had access to a school laptop computer. two people coordinator was aware that the Ericsson company encouraged had key roles in the project: the coordinators at BITC and its employees to become involved in supporting the local Ericsson. Approximately 44 per cent of pupils were entitled to free school meals at the time of data collection. no access to a PC at occasions as a way of helping pupils to ‘write for a purpose’. Teachers mentioned various criteria for selecting the summer term of 2000 and was described on numerous children. Within the school. within a town with a total continued to use Word. the reluctance of local companies to become involved in a literacy project led to the involvement of employees at the Ericsson company. As explained above. because: 2 Autumn 2002 ● Issue 28 . the school hoped that CASE 1: this contact would help to raise pupils’ long-term WOODFORD JUNIOR SCHOOL – aspirations and their ambitions beyond secondary WRITING FOR A REAL PURPOSE education.000 people. that is someone outside their immediate social circle. ultimately. a national organisation which encourages businesses and the two Year 5 teachers printed them and read them to to become involved in the activities of the local community. which much attention at home. The BITC professional responsibilities. pupils’ activities for the project. and we particularly picked enabled them to do this from either their usual classroom or children that we were worried about – those who need the school computer suite. Pupils sent emails to their epals about twice a living with grandparents. someone in employment who could share experiences from and provide insights into the world of work. both illustrate ways in which schools are developing new pedagogical practices supported ◆ to improve individual pupils’ literacy. BITC approached the Ericsson company and they agreed to take part in a project with the school for one term by The role of ICT in the epals project email.000. and allowed them time to participate in community activities. this BITC had approached a number of companies close to the represented a time commitment in addition to their normal school. It served a large estate with a population of attachments to email messages. home. population of approximately 30. by ICT. with software and learned how to send and open 261 pupils on roll. ◆ to provide pupils with a role model. Implementation of the epals project The innovation was the epals project. accordance with the SITES guidelines on anonymity for participants. and the second focuses on the use of on-line in contact with an epal who would be interested in learning materials. The first concerns the use of email to develop literacy communication and social skills by putting them and social skills. The epals project began in factors. check the content before passing them on to the children. and involved one-to. Outside the school.’ week in school time and sometimes also from home. and they also approximately 9. The residents on the estate were predominantly white working-class. as the school coordinator explained: the school day when they could write and send emails to their ‘One factor we looked at was whether the children get partners. In the case studies described below. no male figure in the home and the amount of attention Pupils involved in the epals scheme were allocated times during they received at home. including lack of motivation. community. ◆ to develop pupils’ ICT skills : pupils were Woodford Junior School was a coeducational junior school introduced to Microsoft Outlook Express email (pupils aged 7 to 11) located in the industrial Midlands. Email was seen by all involved as an ideal medium for communication between epals.

Both For example. and the other explained that children had benefited from Comments made by school staff and the coordinators at BITC ‘… the wider thinking skills through relating to another and Ericsson revealed that one of the issues that had to be human being in different circumstances. skills. where traditionally they have Autumn 2002 ● Issue 28 3 . about 20 minutes per week. Outcomes ◆ it was a time. They were understanding how internet] which they wouldn’t have bothered to look for in to have a conversation. better communications skills. teachers had identified improvements in the pupils’ literacy: so they could ‘show’ it to their epals (as a file attachment to an one mentioned improved story. and email). One commented: ‘I’d like every child classrooms or in the school ICT suite. not at the level of junior school children … ◆ it provided opportunities for pupils to develop their ICT at first Ericsson complained that the emails were too short. school level. either in the two Year 5 extending the scheme.’ to take their laptops home and also to draft and send emails to their epals from home as well as from school. e. there had been a number of difficulties to overcome Difficulties that had to be overcome in the initial stages of the project. pupils extended their ICT activities schoolwork. Teachers noted that the children involved in the epals project developed improved attitudes to In addition to using email. [At first] replies were ‘I noticed with a couple of girls their mentor was asking stilted – some children did not respond to questions asked them about their geography topic and asking them … Towards the end there was much more openness. the teachers considered these line in the school office. in some cases suggesting useful web sites. A significant part of the epals project was the emphasis on A major problem that had to be confronted was the difficulty developing pupils’ social skills and raising their career of maintaining the flow of emails. some pupils scanned artwork that they had done. This was essential before allowing the Ericsson staff or six pupils within the school before extending it to a larger to contact the children. in an area where education was not valued and internet access via a dial-up connection using a single phone unemployment was widespread. the pupils’ epals also encouraged the children to use the other noted increased awareness of responding to another the internet to search for information relating to their school person’s questions and statements: work. and how to express a book. and identified possible improvements who had volunteered to take part had to be cleared by police to the scheme (such as initially trialling the project with five checks.’ projects in eight other schools. One teacher ‘It’s meant to be a proper dialogue between two people. as the school had limited aspirations. to the extent that the coordinators convenient to them without having to leave their desks: agreed that it would continue beyond the one-term duration the time required was minimal. the people involved Before the epals project could start. 4 ◆ it allowed pupils to practise their literacy skills in the One of the teachers mentioned initial difficulties in the context of a real activity. However. who were initially uncertain of the value of the project. who wants one to have one’. the BITC coordinator had initiated similar order to bridge the culture gap. “listening”. motivation and raised awareness of the world of work. teachers and the coordinators and respond to the pupils’ emails at times that were at BITC and Ericsson). epals.’ Inevitably. The coordinator done it a wider view of the world. Some Potential for other epals projects emails were also sent and received via the home email accounts of one Year 5 teacher and the headteacher. connecting their laptops to their home phone point. originally envisaged.and letter-writing skills.’ themselves. It gives the ones who have organisation and having realistic expectations. by encouraging the pupils to contact their epals from home. working methods and expectations in the epals project. all the Ericsson employees had reacted positively. communicating with another communications: person. and learning addressed was understanding the prevailing culture in the other through widening their horizons. both at school and at home: pupils were encouraged but that was a hard task for our children. This problem was partially resolved aspects as important as developing pupils’ literacy skills.and cost-effective way of maintaining contact Reactions to the epals project were very positive from all between the epals. as the Ericsson employees could read involved (pupils. as opposed to an artificial classroom assignment ‘Most were graduates and were talking at a secondary set and marked by the teacher. sharing questions. and was hoping to set up a further 20. parents. and the knowledge that these people number of pupils). The Year 5 teachers The positive impacts that the epals project had on the pupils commented that the project would have run more smoothly if involved prompted the Year 5 teachers to consider ways of there had been additional phone lines. increased in other areas as a result of being involved in the epals project. and they used it [to look for information on the and having a conversation. which could form the basis of guidelines had been subject to police clearance reassured those parents for other schools considering setting up such a project.g. commented: and some children found that hard.’ at Ericsson stated: ‘Teachers must have an increased understanding of As a result of the positive feedback following the first term of business protocol. She also felt strongly that instead of limiting such schemes to secondary schools.

The new on-line GNVQ had been offered to Year 10 Coleridge Community College was a large (1. the course sessions.000 p. It was deemed were completed at school. after the end of the school day. Teachers at them to move on to the next phase and inspires them from Walton High School had developed the materials in accordance an early age. and approximately 100 students situated on the outskirts of a large ex-mining city in the were involved. although they had to submit the two assignments for The innovation was a two-year on-line GNVQ course leading each unit by the specified deadline. offering to provide under licence ‘Businesses are keen to work with primary schools … This the materials to run a two-year GNVQ course in ICT leading is about sowing the seeds at an early age that enables to an intermediate award for pupils at age 16. and started running the course from September 2000.and cost-efficient medium the principal and on-line course coordinator spoke of the by which to provide support to young people. in addition to the method of delivery. used the materials devised by Walton High School rather than Coleridge College staff and had far less teacher input than the traditional course. under innovative because the delivery differed from the traditional the supervision of an IT teacher: students made a commitment teaching approaches used in the school’s existing course. serving a fairly affluent area. Two hours of course work to formal accreditation in ICT at age 16.’ However. All students had one-to-one access to a PC in Midlands. [It] is too late to start [with] 16-year-olds – with the syllabus set out by the OCR examination board. COLLEGE – A TWO-YEAR ON-LINE The course was split into six units. ICT offers a time. the course was seen as a way of helping to and teachers more frequently in a more rigid timetable. which can be a challenge was deemed equivalent to four GCSE passes at grades A*–C. It’s more appealing because of the multimedia approach. benefits of such an approach to learning. and one unit was released GNVQ COURSE each term by Walton High School. one teacher remarked. there were considerable advantages to involving younger students: The college was first approached by letter by another secondary school (Walton High School). Both Junior has shown. and we could do this with seven-year-olds … I think it’s the school was offering to supply them under licence to other appropriate to work with primary schools as well as selected secondary schools (the criteria for identifying the secondary schools for this project.’ raise the performance of students who were otherwise likely to achieve fewer than five GCSE passes at grades A*–C. for secondary schools where pupils move between subjects Because of this. the entire course was delivered via computer. but with integrated resources use. ‘It’s the same syllabus as before. The teacher’s role was very different compared to other lessons. Often primary schools schools they approached is not known). A particular attraction appear to have a little more flexibility and are better able of running the course was that for students the accreditation to monitor the children’s activity. for any number of students) from Walton High COLERIDGE COMMUNITY School. in that it was offered to Year 10 students for completion in out-of-school hours. traditionally been taught in class by a teacher. to attend either 1 x 2 hour or 2 x 1 hour sessions per week. it differed from the conventional course. 4 promoted links with industry to enable students to find out The origins of the project more about the world of work. Students worked with a computer on a one-to-one basis for Students were expected to work for a further hour each week the whole of the course to complete the same content that had in their own time (either at home or at school).850 students on students entering the school in September 2000 as a voluntary roll) coeducational technology college for 14–19-year-olds course out of school hours. Implementation of the on-line GNVQ course CASE 2: The college purchased the licence for the course materials (£3. the materials for the unit were installed on the Coleridge College intranet for students to use. as the timetabled GNVQ course that was offered to Year 12 students. and as the scheme at Woodford be an attraction for demotivated and borderline students. Companies’ increased enthusiasm for supporting the local Furthermore. community means that opportunities to develop further projects and it was this difference in delivery that the school felt would of this type are increasing. those running the course commented: ‘My role is more of facilitator than teacher – helping them when they get stuck. The on-line GNVQ course covered the same syllabus content This is about sowing seeds at an early age. and worked independently at their own pace.’ 4 Autumn 2002 ● Issue 28 .a.

’ The teachers running the sessions had not been involved in planning the course content.g. or trying to documents and evaluate them. using a CD-ROM which provided all the materials One commented: for one unit (these were offered to students at the cost of £2). All students needed one-to-one access to a ◆ experience of an approach which required self- computer for the duration of the course in order to access the motivation. Intermediate-level award. so they followed hyperlinks or searched [using search engines] for what it was and found it. and (4) submit first of six terms). but some expressed concerns about the the assignment for assessment. to view the set assignments preparation for students who went on to study courses at for each unit and to prepare their own assignments. we have worked on the first couple of some of the teachers commented that they thought it would be assignments. 4 There was much less teacher–student interaction because the Difficulties that had to be overcome focus of learning had moved from the teacher to the computers – teachers did not deliver the lesson. I wanted to do it because it’s a new thing of the future. work. seeking employment. Students A-level and at university. ‘The course is different because it is not taught by a teacher. together with an ability to pace their own course materials (which included hyperlinks to other websites. including: for the school’s “Fame” production. The first one was to do with types of useful to collate a bank of real examples of documents. The course coordinator at Coleridge College arranged for the materials to be installed on the school’s intranet. If I’m stuck.’ and then Mr X. Students helped each other out and talked Outcomes to each other a lot. The second one is to watch a real video There was widespread agreement that students on the course and make minutes of it.’ Autumn 2002 ● Issue 28 5 . Although theoretically the online materials on-line course: provided students with access to sufficient sample materials.’ Another summarised the course structure as follows: The reactions of students. they could compare their ideas and approaches with other students. ‘At the moment. The role of ICT in the on-line GNVQ course ◆ opportunities to develop the ICT skills that they would Each term. via the internet: students were provided with a GCSE passes at grades A*–C. ‘We work more closely with other students and have more help from them than in other lessons. rather than relying on students using or flyer? They have to find other examples of these the examples provided in the online materials. user name and password to access the Walton High School course via their website. newspaper was. (3) prepare data collection (although this was only towards the end of the evidence [using a range of applications].g. I would first ask the person next to me down tasks. ◆ at home. school network. and then they are given tasks to do were benefiting in a number of ways.’ addition to the students’ workload (all students were expected to do ten GCSEs). ‘We help each other more. Students also noted the access to a computer – this was largely resolved by organising different approach: the students into five separate groups. Walton High School provided a CD-ROM need in the future. They use whatever ◆ greater access to ICT . so that students ◆ the opportunity to repeat sections of the content. get information from someone wearing headphones. such as a GNVQ ◆ via the school intranet. which was mentioned as a software they want to produce these things. instead they assisted The main difficulty that had to be overcome was the individual students with any problems that arose as they were requirement for all students on the course to have one-to-one using the on-line course materials. if they could access the materials from any of the computers in the did not understand it the first time. each of which was supervised by a different teacher in separate sessions. what is an invoice. agenda. but not an agenda. looking at what to do and writing else. could access the course materials in the following ways: ◆ gaining a formal qualification in ICT. in contrast to the conventional One teacher described the types of student activity using the GNVQ course.’ One teacher commented that students Another stated: ‘…have to adapt to the way the content is delivered – e. such documents – e. The teachers supervising the course sessions commented positively about being involved: ‘…it is genuinely an innovation. teachers and parents to the on-line ‘The key pattern is that [for each unit] they: (1) read/watch GNVQ course were overwhelmingly positive at the time of on screen. (2) compose (typing or researching). newspaper as faxes and invoices. which is equivalent to four ◆ at home. Although students worked on the tasks at their own pace. Lots of them knew what a obtain examples from other sources.’ particular benefit to those students who had not opted to study GCSE ICT. both in an educational context and when containing all the materials for one unit of the GNVQ course. the autonomous style of learning was seen as useful sample documents and video clips).

’ prepared by teachers (as in the case of Walton High School). and went on to say: Dr Alison Kington is a Senior Research Officer at the NFER. She has of course the views of the ICT teachers (who might therefore extensive experience in both quantitative and qualitative be assumed to be more positive than non-ICT specialists about research methods.htm types of learners. could be developed. some teachers also expressed concerns that the on-line Dr Susan Harris. they have to have whole-school improvement. indications that this pedagogical approach could be utilised for other subjects/courses. you do need teaching skills. and those teachers running it all taught represents? within the ICT department: they therefore had the necessary ICT skills to resolve any technical problems that arose during sessions. it is not necessarily the technology that has to be innovative. then. ICT was both the subject and the radical changes of classroom practice that this approach medium of delivery. this approach could be further explored not only as an alternative pedagogical practice. with a particular interest in continuing the potential of an ICT-based form of course delivery). approach might also reduce the need for qualified and Berkshire SL1 2DQ. However. it would require time and effort to prepare further wider dissemination. During the case study. experienced teachers. you don’t need IT-skilled staff. It must professional development. Her other areas of interest include basic ICT competence. so it’s also exciting to us. then lots of Useful sites include: departments and schools would jump at the chance. There is a danger line teaching – the vast majority … To a degree. and particularly within the E-mail: s. 6 Autumn 2002 ● Issue 28 .gov. About the authors Here. subject teachers could deliver the IT lesson. and verbal and non- verbal interaction in learning contexts.gov. as it’s http://Sitesm2. As the teachers quoted above bodies permission to reproduce this item in the interests of indicated. but some might not like the Dr Susan Harris is a Principal Research Officer at the NFER. by examination boards or others. Are individuals and organisations ready for this challenge.uk/index. also be acknowledged that the positive views expressed by all those involved (teachers. case studies in schools and developing materials for students. but the The course coordinator considered that the on-line course approach to teaching and learning. but also as a Copying Permitted potential solution for schools where there are shortages of The NFER grants to educational institutions and interested teachers for particular subjects. Slough.ngfl. NFER. access to the equipment and whether the teachers feel they want to change their role to facilitating the learning. such curriculum interests in ICT.harris@nfer.ac. Her published work spans her The head of ICT suggested that other vocational courses.jsp?sectionId=1&categoryId=99 IT.’ teacher–learner and peer relationships. There were. as business studies and health and social care. but She has been involved in a wide range of research projects. Teachers need to be which investigated ways in which innovative ICT can support happy with ICT as a method of delivery. students and parents) may change Address for correspondence over the period of a two-year course. Undoubtedly. The Mere. approach could be transferred to other subjects: ‘I certainly think it would work for other subjects if Weblinks someone produced the materials – if you have a good set of materials covering the curriculum. idea. but would schools feel that they must continue to update their hardware people get into a flap if RealPlayer didn’t work and they and software in order to offer stimulating opportunities to their got an error message? ’ students. there were a number of points to consider before the approach could be extended to include other teachers and/or subjects. potentially those without any specialist ICT teaching skills: In neither case was the technology cutting edge: both demonstrate how existing resources can be utilised to provide ‘I would imagine every teacher would like the idea of on- new opportunities/approaches to learning. they’ve been very keen. Anyone can do it. although these were Barbara Lee is a Research Associate with the NFER. by commercial companies. and for extending and changing pedagogical practices in schools. with the fast-moving pace of technological innovation.dfes.’ materials for additional on-line courses: these might be ‘It’s new to us as teachers.uk/index. ‘It would be possible if someone has enough time to do it Her work in the area of ICT also includes a study for the OECD – it has to be structured carefully.uk secondary sector.’ including surveys. As the case studies above have shown. and Potential for other on-line courses are teachers and students ready and willing to confront the For this GNVQ course. other that. Upton Park. Could other teachers supervise the on-line ICT CONCLUDING REMARKS course? Could the same approach be utilised for other subjects? What level of ICT competence would be necessary for other The two very different case studies at Woodford Junior School teachers to adopt the approach? One teacher thought that the and Coleridge College illustrate how ICT offers the potential approach would be welcomed by many other teachers. 4 ‘…seeing a new method of teaching. mathematics and science.org another way of dealing with learning and catches different http://www. The only downsides are the cost of the http://www.

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